Kith and mannequin

As I understand things — and it’s no secret that my fashionista credentials are barely above size zero — you’re not supposed to notice the model, only what she’s wearing. So this perplexes me somewhat:

I recently participated in a forum discussion about beauty. In that discussion, it became apparent that some participants — a small subset, admittedly — felt that runway models were the ultimate definition of feminine beauty. Not one possible definition — the definition.

This makes sense only if the prettiest girl in your world looks like a twelve-year-old boy. Now there’s nothing in the world wrong with looking like a twelve-year-old boy — I did, back when I was a high-school sophomore — but if your tastes in women run in this direction, I suggest there’s a possibility that you’ve overlooked something somewhere.

Of course, it may be something simpler than that:

I suspect that these men might have been dreaming about the actresses who depict models in movies, rather than the actual models. They also seemed reluctant to accept the idea that those women may not look, when they step out the front door to get the paper in the morning, precisely the same way that they look in movies and magazine covers.

Or, as Cindy Crawford once said: “Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford.”

This being March, which comes right after February, which means the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue — let’s face it, February’s not much use for anything else — some of these chaps may have just recently bought into the illusion that the girls just plop down on the beach and shutters are squeezed. (After all, they’re not reading the articles; they’re just looking at the pictures.)

But this is more worrisome:

What struck me was the idea that there is a single definition of feminine beauty, and any other beauty is not merely different, but inferior. That women who don’t strive for this particular brand of beauty are failing to make the most of themselves and resigning themselves to a miserable man-free existence, and that men who don’t want this specific kind of beauty in a woman, who want something else, are deluding themselves, or “settling”, or so weird that they don’t count statistically.

Or worse, betas who have no hope of corralling the most desirable women, according to the traditional instruction of game.

I, of course, have long since been consigned to one of the lower-down Greek letters. And my own definition of beauty is, I suppose, fairly close to standard, though it is also legendarily flexible. And by now I think I’m past all those biological imperatives: the genes have been passed on, fulfilling whatever duty was required of me.

Besides, I am possessed of a tiny sliver of discretion: should A look better than B, it profits me nothing to mention it to A. Or, for that matter, to B.


  1. Bill Peschel »

    28 March 2014 · 7:39 am

    I was more impressed that a minority of men who claimed an unrealistic standard of beauty was enough to send her off on a tizzy. Men who understand that that’s not true would have shrugged and offered another beer.

    Same with the men who would drop Felicia Day because of her hair: “Duuuuude, go date a wig.”

  2. CGHill »

    28 March 2014 · 8:27 am

    It is inconceivable to me that anyone would drop Felicia Day for any reason at all.

  3. Tatyana »

    28 March 2014 · 8:42 am

    “…whose idea of beauty is a 12yo boy” – are we talking Zooye (whatshername Bechamel…pardon me, Deshanel)? beckie Friday?

    *of course there exist an ideal beauty – problem is, every generation and every region on earth have their own.

    *of course women compete for men (just like men compete for women), only willfully ignorant will deny it – it’s just the purpose of competition differs. men’s is collecting and bragging, while women’s is to link to most prominent provider.
    the point is, are you as a woman going to make this pursuit central premise of your life or you grow courage to depend on your own inner resources? if the latter, you’ll be amazed how much fuss and anxiety you could easily purge from your life – including worrying of visual you project and how close to someone’s ideal of beauty it is.

    *of course life is struggle. it’s a constant fight for everybody, men or women; constant competition for businesses, even countries. in a fight one uses every advantage. beauty is as much an advantage as intellectual power, street-smart or muscles.

  4. CGHill »

    28 March 2014 · 8:51 am

    Neither Zooey Deschanel nor Rebecca Black strikes me as overly thin.

    in a fight one uses every advantage. beauty is as much an advantage as intellectual power, street-smart or muscles.

    True. But it’s considered a breach of protocol to say so. See also Rush Limbaugh: “Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.”

  5. fillyjonk »

    28 March 2014 · 9:07 am

    I’ve always said that men who think in the “single standard of beauty” model don’t deserve to have nice women.

    I probably spent a lot of my life believing I was considerably less tolerable in the looks department than I actually am, thanks to interacting with a few of those men during the high-school era of my life. (Then again: believing you’re not “all that” in the looks department maybe isn’t such a bad thing.)

  6. Tatyana »

    28 March 2014 · 9:19 am

    That Limbaugh’s quote is exactly what CheackenFreak means when she analyses that famous male attitude – incredulity that women do NOT live to please them.

    I meant something totally different when I said beauty is an advantage. A hint: I didn’t said specifically “feminine beauty”.

  7. Tatyana »

    28 March 2014 · 9:27 am

    About Z.D. image: again, it’s not so much being thin but playing perpetual porno schoolgirl, in Deshanel’s case – in her overripe mid-thirties dressing like precocious 14yo (and with conical legs like hers! and those puffy knees! eye bleach, please!)
    She would be at home in some brothel, wearing cartoonish catholic girl uniform, to serve some pervert’ fantasies.
    On the other hand, on her background the image projected by her sister is completely opposite and commands utmost respect.

  8. McGehee »

    28 March 2014 · 9:30 am

    I don’t even have a single standard of feminine beauty for my personal, individual judgment — let alone my generation or region.

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