Friday, January 27, 2012

When Did Beauty Ideals Change?

Today, I attended a panel for the "Food Networks and Gender" conference, that dealt with body image. The first speaker, Elizabeth Antus, dealt with the issue in (what we might consider) the most traditional sense of the phrase, with compulsive eating, dieting, eating disorders, and constant dissatisfaction, especially in terms of the female body.
This got me thinking about an idea that's been floating around the internet lately. You may have seen an image like this pop up on Facebook, Twitter, or your favorite meme site.
At the panel, Antus described body dissatisfaction as a "staple of womanhood," and seeing a photograph like this makes me wonder why. As someone who is locked in the constant battle with body satisfaction, it gives me great hope to see that even today, Marilyn Monroe is still considered beautiful. I see girls with a fuller "Marilyn"-type body constantly putting themselves down (and let's face it, I'm one of them, with my measurements almost exactly the same as our dear Marilyn's) or wishing to be something else.
The quote at the bottom of the photo really says it all for me. "Proof that you can be adored by thousands of men, even when your thighs touch." I don't know who made up the whole "thighs that touch are unattractive" thing, but it's time we got rid of it. 
I propose we get into a new mindset, and stop putting such strict limitations on what it means to be beautiful.


  1. I missed the panel. i am curious about what the less traditional "body Image" papers were.

  2. Some of the other "body image" ideas centered around the lifestyles of body-builders, characterization of overweight men in literature as the "unromantic" and "un-dangerous" characters (many references to Falstaff), and the use of food on the television show "Glee." It was definitely an interesting mix!