Beautiful Enough

Why did she not feel beautiful enough? She was young, she left behind a husband and eight year old twins.

Beauty queen and Miss Argentina 1994, Solange Magnano, died on Sunday as a result of complications from elective gluteoplasty, commonly known as a “butt lift.” Although authorities are still investigating the cause of death, Solange’s friend Roberto Piazza said that liquid injected for Thursday’s surgery “went to her lungs and brain,” causing respiratory failure.

I got a book that is a classic artist’s tool– the photos of Edweard Muybridge.
In the late 1800’s Muybridge used the new technology of photograpy in ingenious ways creating images of animals and people in motion. His work is still used today. His photos of the human body in motion show models, male and female, in ordinary daily actions–walking, running, climbing stairs. The models are naked.

They are all young and fit. They lived in times when people were active by necessity and ate all natural because that’s all they had. They are beautiful pictures.

The men have a timeless look. The women, by fashion standards, are all defective in some way. Stomachs are not totally flat, breasts are not augmented. In fact, they are normal women who have not surgically altered themselves. When they wanted a slim waist, they would have worn a corset. Women back then didn’t shave off their body hair. They kept their clothes on, except in the cause of art and science, or in privacy.

Generally, it’s alright for men to be men. Women have to try to be this year’s model. Most of us don’t put our lives at risk for the sake of perfection. Most of us recognize that perfection is never attainable. Tragically, some women have died trying to be beautiful enough.

The world revolves around commerce, and commerce depends on need. Create a need when one doesn’t exist. If women generally felt beautiful enough, surgeons would have to make a living curing diseases. And with all that extra time and mental energy, women might get up to something.

Shadow Woman

Sometimes I think that we were all imprinted by those Barbie dolls we played with (boys included) and grew up believing that all women should look impossibly thin, hairless and tan. Unless they are already brown. Then they should be blond. They should have no body fat and enormous breasts. A magazine recently photoshopped a cover model so that her pelvis looked all out of proportion. Her bone structure failed to achieve perfect femininity.

Virginia Woolf once said that she was haunted by the Angel in the House. A Victorian ideal of the perfect housewife, mother, source of comfort to all. Quite beautiful, but who could be her all the time? Who could be only her? A writer, who by nature has to be self-absorbed, egotistical and moody, can’t be angelic most of the time. Maybe when hosting an occasional party, or on Halloween for fun. How oppressive to never be able to relax and be only human. The Angel didn’t have to step on the scale every five minutes, but she was forever baking things, arranging flowers, dedicated to pleasing her man, her family and all of creation.

The shadow side of the Angel, however she is defined, is the condemnation of the woman who fails, who is merely human. We all fail. We’ll never be good enough to reach a receding goal.

The Angel of the House becomes the slutty housewife, with curlers in her hair and babies crying. Barbie is fat, hairy, smelly– you know in your sinful soul that unless you are ever-vigilant, your physicality will reveal itself to your everlasting shame.

Echidne of the Snakes has a discussion about women and body hair. I’m old enough to remember when a young guy who grew a beard would be called dirty, smelly, queer, subversive and all kinds of things. But he went ahead and did it anyway, because personal appearance is really very important. Women in the Muslim world risk flogging to wear jeans. Why? Because being yourself in the world is worth suffering for.

So while I will defend anyone’s right to be themselves, and live in the tanning booth if they want to, I regret the body shame we are inflicting on women for just being natural humans. Virginia Woolf lived in a time of profound limitations on women, but she got to keep her clothes on. It would probably not have occurred to her to hate what she saw in the mirror.

Women creating their own personal style, plastic surgeons collecting unemployment, diet books remaindered. How scary is that?

Rush Limbaugh– An Obscene Spectacle

When he was a football commentator on ESPN he ran off his mouth and got bounced. He got in trouble running around the Dominican Republic with a suitcase full of Viagra.
His language is becoming increasingly crude– he really seems to have issues.

And now he’s a judge of poise and beauty…

LAS VEGAS—The Miss America Organization says Rush Limbaugh will be a judge for the 2010 pageant in Las Vegas.

It will be held at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on Jan. 30, broadcast live on TLC.

Limbaugh will be on the panel of seven judges that will help decide who will be crowned Miss America 2010.

Oh God, it’s the stuff of nightmares.