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Thread: I don't want to be a 'natural beauty'

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    Super Moderator twitchy2.0's Avatar
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    Default I don't want to be a 'natural beauty'

    I don't want to be a 'natural beauty'

    May 27, 2013 - 10:57AM




    Kate Fridkis

    Writer, blogger at Eat the Damn CakeView more articles from Kate Fridkis

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    Photo: Getty Images. Posed by model.

    It must be nice to be a “natural beauty.” To be gorgeous without effort or even interest. This type of beauty is perhaps the most impressive. It’s like being a piano prodigy, except that you don’t even have to touch the keys. You can just stand around. You can sit. You should probably not eat too much, but otherwise, you’re good, because of God and genes and accident.

    It’s hard to escape the concept of natural beauty. Once in university I was in a religion seminar, and the guest lecturer, a world-traveling, leathery-tan man with an impressive literary biography described in detail the beauty of the pious Muslim girls he’d encountered on his wild desert journeys. One girl was maybe fifteen, but she radiated a kind of primal loveliness. A dewy, untouched sex appeal. Holy shit, did he actually use the words “sex appeal” in describing her? He might as well have. Rapturously, he recalled how even her thorough hijab could not conceal her bursting beauty. Unlike Western girls, and here he glanced around the table at our tired, effortful faces, this pure blossom didn’t even have to try. She simply embodied beauty. She had, somehow, regardless of politics and oppression and discrimination and whatever else, won.

    I was disturbed. Why were we talking so much about this girl’s appearance in the first place? Why was this man so comfortable objectifying, exotifying, and eroticizing her, especially in an academic setting?
    But we are always talking about girls’ appearances, actually. And, in practically every context, “natural” beauty is praised.

    It sets up a strange dynamic. We know, as girls, that we’re supposed to care about how we look, since everyone is always talking about how girls and women look as though it’s a really big deal. And we know, simultaneously, that it would be best if we could look as though we don’t care very much how we look, but also look as pretty as possible, at every given mument. Women are celebrated for being beautiful, and celebrated even more for being beautiful when they aren’t even trying.

    Being beautiful in track pants is a major accomplishment.

    Being beautiful without makeup is a triumph.

    Being beautiful early in the morning, while exhaustedly walking the dog or slogging miserably to work—success!!

    A few months ago, in the New York Times Room For Debate session on makeup, a man proudly trumpeted his wife’s ability to look super hot without even putting makeup on! And she is not exactly young anymore, either!

    Imagine that.

    Now imagine a woman who’s gotten “work done.” Oh dear. Not great. We feel sort of sorry for her. Snide comments are made. She looks like she’s made of plastic...There’s a desperation about her. Basically, to summarize, she’s already failed, and she’s publicizing her failure by trying frantically to correct it. A woman I know who’s had a facelift told me in confessional tones that she made sure that it looks “natural.” And of course the idea is for cosmetic surgery to look like you didn’t “need” any cosmetic surgery to begin with. You’re supposed to appear a few weeks later looking refreshed, as though you were born this way.

    We women often put a lot of effort into, and pay a lot of money to attempt to “look natural.” But, you know, better than whatever natural looks like for us personally.

    It can all seem a little ridiculous, when you lean back from it for a second and squint. Which is why the leaning back and squinting is so important, because we need to recognize how ridiculous beauty constructs are.

    Of course, it’s not completely unexpected: We praise people for being “naturally” smart, too, “naturally” athletic, and etc. But studies continue to show, as they have for some time now, that it is generally healthier to praise schoolchildren for being hardworking, than for being naturally gifted. We know now that to emphasize a child’s inherent ability places pressure on that child to continue to be accidentally talented, which is something that is hard for anyone to control. When the children who are applauded for their natural skills fail, they are shown to take the failure very personally. After all, the process of their success has always seemed mysterious and basic and inseparable from the rest of their identity, so it must be they who are failing as whole people. When students are instead complimented and rewarded for their effort and improvement, they tend to not be so hard on themselves. When they fail, they reason, “Well, I’ll work harder next time.” They learn that they are capable of success, rather than constantly automatically deserving of it, and they learn simultaneously that they are bigger and more complex than their individual successes or failures.

    With this in mind, it seems especially important to correct our widespread cultural fixation on girls’ natural beauty. Which is not to say that this is a perfect analogy, and that we should praise little girls for learning to apply makeup skillfully, so that they can make themselves prettier, even if their inherited features aren’t stunning.

    What I do want to say is: telling someone, especially someone very young, that what matters most about them is something outside of their control—something they either have or don’t have-- is messed up. It’s psychologically dangerous, even. It prevents them from figuring out their own worth and taking on the world as unique, fascinatingly diverse individuals.

    And goddamnit, we need to let girls do this.

    What’s awesome about us as girls and women isn’t something our genes did or didn’t do, it’s what we’re are capable of as full, messy, complicated people.

    In honor of this, I will continue to proudly look like crap in the morning, without makeup, rumpled in my schlumpy clothes. It doesn’t get more “natural” than that, guys.

    Oh, and also, I reserve the right to sometimes dress up, and fiddle with my hair, and pose in different pairs of similar-looking shoes, and to try very hard to look as pretty as possible. Because for me, it is an effort.

    And because sometimes that effort is an enormous amount of fun.

    Kate Fridkis blogs about body image issues on Eat the Damn Cake.
    Source: I don't want to be a 'natural beauty'
    Brookie, *Kat*, Karistiona and 1 others like this.

    "The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge."

    -- Stephen Hawking

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    Elite Member greysfang's Avatar
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    I agree with her points.
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    Elite Member faithanne's Avatar
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    I agree with her but I also think there's nothing wrong with admiring natural beauty the way we would anything else beautiful. I can travel across the country to take photos of a waterfall, so why can't I celebrate a beautiful human who was created that way? People can be works of art too.
    "You're going to die tomorrow, Lord Bolton. Sleep well."



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    Elite Member Brookie's Avatar
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    People ARE works of art - we continually prove that we don't like what we have and what we look like. Tans, tattoos, makeup, even clothing to a certain extent, all cover up the canvas we started out with. Not that any of those are wrong (I'm guilty of all except the tats), but we seem to want to look like someone or something else - and that someone wants to look like somebody ELSE as well.
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    Elite Member heart_leigh's Avatar
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    I have one friend who I find quite pretty. As long as I've known her, she hasn't worn make-up (no foundation, powder, liner, etc.) with the exception of a moisturizer with sunscreen and vaseline on the lips. She has such a great complexion and long, thick eyelashes. Lucky bitch. One time I asked her why she doesn't wear make-up and she said she didn't like the feeling make-up on her face because it felt heavy. She also mentioned she had sensitive skin. As for me, I've tried going without a trace of make-up. Yeah, not gonna happen.
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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    One of my favorite pictures of Mrs. Mohandas is without any makeup at all. We were in the kitchen having breakfast and a lot of natural sunlight was coming through the window. I'm not sure how exactly we decided to do it, but the picture I took worked out to accentuate all the things I love about her. Natural arching eyebrows, full lips, wearing her glasses (which I love), natural wavy raven hair falling over her face and shoulders. The thing is, I'm not sure people who have only known her when she wears makeup would even know it's her. As a guy, I find it amazing, and pretty cool, what women can do with eyeliner and eye shadow in particular. And how dramatically it changes someone's appearance.
    Brookie and Kittylady like this.

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    Elite Member Kittylady's Avatar
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    That's so sweet Mo

    This line from the article really got me as well:

    A few months ago, in the New York Times Room For Debate session on makeup, a man proudly trumpeted his wife’s ability to look super hot without even putting makeup on! And she is not exactly young anymore, either!


    Is the concept of finding someone incredibly hot based on love, a shared history and mental/emotional attraction so insane and far out these days? I get pounced on whether I'm in full warpaint and dressed up or make-up free with bedhead and cat PJs on. My superhotness in the eyes of my OH is based on who I am and what he feels for me rather than what nature did or did not give me on the roll of the genetics dice.
    MohandasKGanja likes this.
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    Elite Member Brah's Avatar
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    I agree with everything she says. Great points. I get that it's okay to admire someone for beauty, because it's a happy accident. I admire someone for their humor and intelligence, with can also be happy accidents. But they're able to contribute to the world for those traits, as well as talent, or drive, or whatever else. Beauty contributes nothing, and yet we admire it in other people. Especially given the fact that women are especially judged on our appearances. If we don't put in any effort, then we're lazy. If we put in too much, then we're insecure. And if we put in all that effort and we still aren't considered pretty, then we're pitied for our worthless efforts. Women should have curves, but being thin is always in, but we should also love ourselves for the way we are. IDK, I think about these types of things a lot and it's honestly incredibly frustrating and upsetting, especially since I am very guilty of it myself (admiring beauty in a person, over actual worthwhile traits). If you google Michelle Obama, the suggestions are "hot" "arms" "legs". Google Barack Obama, however, and there's nothing related to his appearance. Same with Hillary Clinton ("pantsuit" "facelift") and Bill Clinton ("funny" "son" etc). So even women whose careers have nothing to do with their looks, there's still a focus, which is apparent when you view their counterparts. It's just a frustrating box that women are put into. I hate the concept of beauty and I hate that women are valued so much based on something we can't change.

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    Elite Member faithanne's Avatar
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    I'm not disputing what she said and most of your points but I disagree beauty contributes nothing. What kind of miserable world would it be if there was no beauty? It makes us feel good and we need it.
    greysfang likes this.
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  10. #10
    Elite Member Brah's Avatar
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    Oh I agree, I meant that it contributes nothing in a person, in terms of like character. Or like at a job, or in a friendship, or a relationship, things like that. We seem to admire beauty in people but it doesn't really have anything to do with who they are. And for women, I feel like that's damaging, being led to believe that we'd be worth more if we could improve the one thing that we never can change, and that has the least to do with our value as a person (I'm speaking in generalities, I know that for some girls that's not true, but it's what I've observed in myself and in other girls/friends).

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    There's a basic human impulse to beautify things around us. To accessorize. Our houses, our yards, our meals, ourselves.....

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    Elite Member Brah's Avatar
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    And I'm just questioning that influence on girls. I'm not denying its use. I said I'm guilty of it. I never leave the house without makeup, I can't even talk to people if I'm without makeup. I feel better in makeup, but I don't think it's healthy to feel shitty without it, and I know I'm not the only girl who that happens to (but maybe that's just youth). I'm not saying lets all live in shacks and never brush our hair, I'm just saying women have a pressure on us cause of all these ideals of beauty, that aren't even static (big is better, then the waif look, then the exotic look, etc, all things that the average girl can't live up to, but that a lot of us infer that we have to live up to it). I just agree with the article, is what I'm saying.

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brah View Post
    And I'm just questioning that influence on girls. I'm not denying its use. I said I'm guilty of it. I never leave the house without makeup, I can't even talk to people if I'm without makeup. I feel better in makeup, but I don't think it's healthy to feel shitty without it, and I know I'm not the only girl who that happens to
    I remember seeing my first girlfriend without makeup for the first time. I was so naive that I couldn't figure out what had happened. She looked really, really different and I was a little freaked out. Nowadays, it's no big deal at all unless that person basically has no eyebrows at all without makeup.

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    Elite Member Lobelia's Avatar
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    Amanda Bynes thinks that the author of this article is ugly.
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    Elite Member InigoMontoya's Avatar
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    I remember seeing my first girlfriend without makeup for the first time. I was so naive that I couldn't figure out what had happened. She looked really, really different and I was a little freaked out. Nowadays, it's no big deal at all unless that person basically has no eyebrows at all without makeup.
    I was all of 14 or 15 when an older cousin married, and his wife told me she never went to bed before he did and always woke up before he did, so that he never had to see her without her makeup. Now, I was and am a tomboy and thought that was all kinds of crazy then, but even moreso now that I'm knocking on 50's door. I'm not one for the lotta makeup and the like. Tried covering my grey with the semi-permanent stuff and gave up on doing that. Low maintenance, I guess, but I'll now be calling it "natural."

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