This is coming from someone who likes fashion, sometimes wears makeup, and used to be firmly on the ‘beauty can mean lots of different things!’ bandwagon.
Physical appearance is important in this world we live in. It is important for a couple of reasons:
a) tending to your outside can be an act of self-love and self-care. As a person who struggles with depression and PTSD, a person with a traumatic past, keeping up rituals of tending to my body with love - and I define that in a few different ways, not just cosmetic - are ways to remain present, small ways to tell myself that I value myself. THAT IS COOL.
b) we live in a society that tells us about a million times a day that how much our bodies align with an arbitrary set of standards meant to indicate ‘physically attractive’ is vital to our self-worth and that we should always strive to be closer to those standards. Those standards are misogynist, racist and cisheteronormative. They are always shifting, and they are propped up by industries that make enormous amounts of money preying on our insecurities and vulnerabilities. This is not new information. THAT IS FUCKED.
I think of playing with my appearance as fun, and I don’t generally do it to please anyone but myself, but when I’m doing it I always try to think about WHY I like a particular look. Is it because it makes me look more like I align with those standards I mentioned above, those standards that have literally killed people (not just from eating disorders, but as I am someone who will always have an ED to contend with, that is often first in my mind)?
Can one move toward an aesthetic that fucks the industry? As someone who enjoys aesthetics and has a very strong sense thereof, I would like to think there is some room here.
(I think of the great Mark Aguhar in this regard.)
But please, always keep this in mind: how closely you align to those given standards does not make you a kind person. It does not make you a smart person. It does not make you a thoughtful person. It does not make you a funny person. You can be a person that conforms to those standards and be all of those things, of course, but you can also be a person who conforms to those standards who is cruel and boring, or a person who doesn’t conform to those standards who has all or some of these great qualities.
And I will always fight against the idea that those standards are meaningful to me personally, meaningful in an essential and real way. As they stand right now they are important simply because they have such impact in our lives: there are so many studies out there that indicate that how close one conforms to those physical standards affects whether we are likely to get jobs or housing, how much money we’re likely to make, so on and so forth.
How fucked is that?
How important is it to fight beauty hierarchy in every corner of our lives? It is crucial.
hearts for eyes for jes’ brain.