Stop It, Already

The average U.S. woman is 5’4” and weighs 140 pounds, whereas the average U.S. model is 5’11” and weighs 117 pounds.

The “ideal” woman – portrayed by models, Miss America, Barbie dolls, and screen actresses – is 5’5, weighs 100 pounds and wears a size 5.

The diet industry (diet foods, diet programs, diet drugs, etc.) takes in over $40 billion each year and continues to grow.

30% of women chose an ideal body shape that is 20% underweight and an additional 44% chose an ideal body shape that is 10% underweight.

Two out of five women and one out of five men would trade three to five years of their life to achieve their weight goals.

Young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents.

*Source: Shocking Statistics by University of Colorado in Boulder*

Wow…read those over again, let them sink in. The last one, especially, left me reeling. The idea of a few extra fat cells is scarier to girls than dying or losing their parents?

Women have the ability and the power to stop this poisonous destruction of women’s and girls’ self-esteem, and to shift the focus to realistic images and a priority on accomplishments rather than appearance. But women have self-perpetuated this crap for so long, I don’t know that most women know how to stop.

For instance, I have read that 7 out of 10 women feel depressed after viewing pictures of models in fashion magazines. Yet, who are the primary subscribers and purchasers of these same fashion magazines? Why do women feed their own self-loathing and financially contribute to the lunacy of unrealistic, unhealthy body shapes?

I receive This Old House and PC magazine. Not Vogue, not Cosmo (sure as hell not Cosmo), or any other magazine targeting women with their “you are not good enough” message, full of fluff, with the token “love yourself” article followed by an ad for SlimFast or Jenny Craig.

*flipping middle finger*

It’s as easy as that, ladies. Step off the lunatic train and stop giving it momentum. And please, for the love of god, let’s give today’s little girls a more female-friendly, realistic world to inherit.

Unless, of course, it doesn’t bother you that these girls are more afraid of being fat than being dead.


Does Vanity Keep You Poor?

Molly Faulker-Bond, the author of Why Vanity Keeps You Poor, puts forth the idea that women spend so much on beauty products and treatments that we leave ourselves in the dust behind men financially. According to this article, U.S. women spend between $12,000 and $15,000 each year on beauty and maintenance. (The link from her article no longer lands directly on the source of that number, so I am not sure where it came from.)

No doubt women spend too damn much on frivolous and basically gratuitous luxuries that can in no way be deemed necessities. I am guilty of it at times, purchasing yet another pink lipstick or splurging on an experimental hair color.

However, where I part ways with Ms. Faulkner-Bond is the assumption that this is strictly a female behavior. Who has ever gone grocery shopping with a member of the male persuasion of any age? Can it be denied that they are flagrant wasters of money? How much higher is your cart piled when you shop with a male who “must” have sugary cereal, this, that, some of that…I rest my case. Fast forward to video games, fishing gear, nerd props (can you say Star Trek?), or hell, beer. Yes, all of these are based on rampant stereotypes, but so is the concept that all women mindlessly shell out major bucks for highlights and pedicures.

Let’s remember that women typically do not make a comparable salary as men, simply by being women (one source of many: The Wage Gap, by Gender and Race). Perhaps unfairly starting behind the eight ball is a more significant factor than we care to acknowledge.

I have a retirement account, a savings account, and I draw the line on what I will spend on beauty items. I recognize them as fun but not by any means necessary. Apparently this makes me a bit of an oddball for a woman, according to this article. How about you?

The average American household carries $8000 in credit card debt (source: Money Central). Clearly, neither men nor women should be proudly boasting about their spending habits. I agree that far too much emphasis, downright phobic and manic, is placed on women’s appearance, and that priority needs to shift. However, the claim that women simply can’t manage money is far too simplistic for me, and doesn’t address the real underlying problems: devaluing women for anything but looks, and consumerism, to name only two.

Deal Breakers

After reading the Fabulous Mag survey, in which some men declared weight gain a deal breaker and said they would leave their girlfriend if she gained 3 dress sizes, I wondered: what are your deal breakers? Do you have any, related to appearance?

I felt sad that these men apparently placed 100% emphasis on, and valued only, their girlfriend’s appearance. I tried to imagine forgoing all the reasons I enjoy being with my boyfriend, all the jokes and talks and laughs, simply because he gained some weight. I couldn’t imagine it, because I value him far beyond superficial traits. I wondered why the women dating the men from the survey bothered to stick around for someone whose vision stopped at their skin, stopped at their dress size, refused to see them as human beings but as props to decorate themselves.

If my boyfriend gained weight to a point it threatened his health, I would definitely say something. It’s not healthy, mentally or physically, to cart around extra weight. But to leap immediately to “Well, he’s put on some pounds, guess I’m outta here” is to dismiss all that he is as a person, a partner, a friend.

Weight, and looks, are touchy subjects, especially with our partners, who can be hurt by our disapproval, or absorb our concern (such as about weight) as rejection or judgment, no matter how gently it is phrased.

I have pet peeves more so than deal breakers. I wish men took better care of their skin. Refusing to use sunscreen or to moisturize is not “manly”, it’s stupid. Sunburns and dry skin are not attractive, sandpaper hands can be just yucky, and inviting skin cancer is foolish, whether you’re male or female. A little lotion goes a long way! Products are made now specifically for men, so gentlemen, please take better care of your skin!

Stars without Make-Up!

Star magazine is still kicking around its Stars Without Make-Up cover, promising to unleash celebrities’ hideousness without their usual professional make-up and hair work. Celebrities are an easy target because they are essentially paid obscene amounts of money for having limited talent but either scandalous lifestyles or otherwordly good looks, but articles like this one disturb me on many levels.

First, it’s hardly unique. Plenty of magazines besides Star trot out an issue (or a few) ridiculing celebrities without makeup, inviting us to open the pages and “ewwww!” and “gross!” over what these people look like once the goo is scrubbed off and their hair is taken down.

But wait a minute…we’re only supposed to feel good that women occasionally look bad. There are no male celebrities in these articles. Am I to believe men don’t have bad hair days, or that men stroll about 24/7 looking impeccable and gorgeous? A quick look around tells me no, that’s not the case.

So…we, as women, are supposed to look at these magazines and feel…what? Relieved? Happy?

How about catty and stupid?

These magazines make me cringe, as do the occasional e-mails I get from lunkerheads with photos side-by-side, one a starlet with her make-up just so, her hair flat-ironed and shiny, her lashes practically curling up and touching her forehead in glam overkill; in the other, kicking around in sweats, a baseball cap, no makeup, a ponytail. Comments run the gamut of “What a difference make-up makes!” to flat-out making fun the woman and calling her ugly without make-up.

First, I’d love to see the photographers, reporters, and readers of these magazines on their way to the grocery store or Wal-mart. Peek in your rearview mirror, jerks. You’re probably not much to look at yourself without making an effort to look good.

Celebrities make a load of money for looking good, possibly opening themselves up to more criticism than the average bear. But the bulls-eye focus on female celebrities only, allowing only male celebrities to be human, rubs me the wrong way. So does the idea that women should enjoy cackling gleefully, making fun of and putting down another woman, bolstering their own egos by tearing someone else down.

Sounds like–bullying. Is making fun of other people to feel like a better person simply easier than becoming a better person?

Things I Don’t Get

I adore make-up and the girly fun that goes with it, but there are a lot of things that stop me short and make me wonder exactly what some women are thinking. Here are just a few:

  • *BOTOX*: I realize we’ve touched on this previously, but let’s consider this again. Paralyzing your face muscles with toxins related to food poisoning, for the sole purpose of reducing wrinkles. Hmmm. Sure, sounds reasonable…for a neurotic, self-obsessed princess who wears “Hottie” baby T’s.

*WAXING EYEBROWS*: I had a friend who religiously had her brows waxed and would moan how shaggy and unkempt she was when she went longer than 15 seconds without an appointment with the eyebrow-ripper. Intrigued by her devotion, I actually tried it once. Expecting a magical transformation, I eagerly grabbed the mirror once the waxing was over, and behold…no perceptible difference whatsoever! Unless your eyebrows closely resemble wooly caterpillars mating above your eyes, I seriously doubt this beauty ritual is necessary.

*PINK OR RED EYESHADOW*: Redness around the eyes is typically a symptom of a hangover, lack of sleep, illness, pink-eye or other disease of the mucous membranes. This is the look you are going for?

*TALON FINGERNAILS*: Clearly a status symbol of not needing to wash dishes, type, make sudden movements, or perform other menial tasks requiring full use and control of your hands…they are certainly attention-getting, but they instantly conjure images of LaFonda from Napoleon Dynamite for me. Being a working gal, I simply can’t get past the enormous impracticality of it.

That was just to get us started. What is on your “WTF?” list of beauty trends or practices?

*to be continued!*