Monday, June 16, 2008

Plastic Surgery and the Fake Beauty Ideal

What do Cindy Jackson, 48, and Steve Erhardt, 23, have in common?

They've both spend over $100,000 USD on plastic surgery.

The images above are of human beings that do not exist in nature. What I find intrinsically wrong and disturbing is my reaction to both pictures. Cindy, my mind tells me, is a pretty woman. Don't I wish that I will look like that when I'm almost 50? Steve, according to my inner sense of beauty, is a bizarre parody of a man. Cindy is beautiful, and Steve is abhorrent.

If my inner sense of beauty was as unwarped as I would like it to be, both pictures should disgust me. My mind should be incapable of finding completely unnatural and fake images of humanity as sexually appealing, or more so, than images of unaltered human beings.

I tested this with several of my friends. Unanimously, regardless of their gender or sexual preference, everyone I talked to found Cindy better looking than Steve. In fact, only one of my friends, a straight woman, thought that Steve wasn't disturbing.

What does this mean?

It means that our definition of female beauty is so warped that we find completely invented images of women prettier than actual women. This standard does not apply to men. When confronted with an image of the "perfect man" who has spent thousands of dollars augmenting himself to adhere to a beauty ideal, most react with disgust. When we see Cindy, on the other hand, we find her unanimously prettier than Steve, at the least, and extremely good-looking in general.

I submit this experiment as absolute undeniable proof that the image of female beauty is invented to a degree that male beauty has never been. Humanity finds the male that occurs naturally much better looking than one that appears plastic and fake. Whereas, unless we're plastic surgery experts, we are incapable of recognizing alteration to the female form because we are socialized to find such alternations beautiful and normal.

It is the true female body, with its stretch marks, pores, unlined eyes, uneven skin, knobby knees, and slight pouch that we find as disgusting as the altered male.

Repeat this experiment with your friends. Even though I spend hours weekly trying to deconstruct the false image of beauty that marketing has socialized into my subconscious, I still find Cindy infinitely more attractive than Steve. I highly doubt that anyone, regardless of their sexuality or gender, disagrees with me.

It is this evidence—socialization has ruined my natural sense of beauty—that is much more horrifying than the thousands of dollars and months of pain women undergo to transform themselves into some Living Doll. Although I cannot determine which came first—the demand for false beauty or the image of unnatural beauty—I can say that my subconscious is evidence that we continue to perpetuate this demand for the mutilated image of femininity despite any objection that so-and-so prefers natural beauty.

In fact, I postulate that anyone when confronted with a unadorned symmetrical female face through the media would not find it as attractive or "normal" as the completely unnatural image of Cindy Jackson.

This fact, coupled with the observation that we are capable of valuing real men over altered men (who would argue that a naturally handsome man is less appealing than Steve?), leads me to believe that feminist theory is undeniably true: that what is we think is "normal" female beauty has nothing to do with nature. This hijacking of female beauty and biology is nauseating in its totality.


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