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the lip crew on (the) beauty (myth)

sophia western

‘The Victorian woman became her ovaries, as today’s woman has become her “beauty”.’
Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth


‘People tend to confuse the notion of aesthetics with that of beauty. The human eye desires to look at plenty that would not be termed “beautiful”, which is, of course, why so many traffic jams are caused not by collisions themselves, but by those following who slow down to stare at the horrific scene. So why does this confusion happen? Why do we pretend we only want to look at what is “beautiful”? As a culture we have a shameful desire to hide what we worry will expose us individually as animalistic. We don’t want to be seen as base or crude – we pretend the virginal is what is “beautiful” while stashing our porn collections under the mattress. What is beautiful is obscure and personal and impossible to transfer categorically from one person to the next. As soon as we can admit to each other that our eye seeks out so much more than the “beautiful” we might move past surface level aesthetics and into a world that actually reflects human taste.’ – Audrey K Hulm, Writer

‘While I would love to use this space to rant about how everyone is beautiful in their own way, I can’t help think that to do that would be to completely miss the point of the issue. Because the issue our society is currently having with beauty isn’t just that there is currently an unrealistic and limited ideal being promoted by the media about what exactly constitutes beauty, but also that we as a society place so much importance on beauty itself. Rather than trying to reassure everyone that they are individually beautiful, we should be focusing on the bigger picture – that, when it comes down it, beauty doesn’t actually matter. Kindness, intelligence and bravery make a difference in this world of ours, and they are the qualities that we should be both promoting and applauding. The real beauty myth is that beauty matters.’ – Kaylia Payne, Writer

‘It’s fairly easy, in the face of unattainable beauty standards, to say that “looks don’t matter”. I’d argue that most of the time they don’t; physical attractiveness in the absence of intelligence, competency, humour and kindness, is trivial. But the truth is that beauty matters and it seems to be especially important for women. All women – from models to politicians – seem to be judged on how badly someone (men, usually) wants to sleep with them.  We do this well before adulthood, too: most of the time, the most popular girls in school are pretty or can afford the dozens of products and designer clothes and make-up required to look good. Little girls are often told they will one day be beautiful.  We’re taught to value these compliments and to see beauty as an achievement so naturally the lack of them is considered a personal failure. To make things even more complicated, the standard for beauty is wrapped up in racist ideology and rigid gender politics. It can be difficult to drown out those messages but I’d like to think it gets easier over time to realise the beauty myth is really just that.’ – Shannon Clarke, Writer

‘I was struggling quite a bit to figure out where to even start talking about “beauty”. So, I turned to my most faithful friend whenever I am in times of need: Google. A quick Google image search of the word “beauty” brought up predominantly images of Caucasian women’s faces, often accompanied by some kind of flower. Now, call me crazy, but I don’t believe that these images can be called a universal definition of beauty. I believe that beauty is entirely subjective; in the eye of the beholder, if you will. Sure, I can accept that the women that Google showed me are beautiful, but I can also see beauty in the women that Google didn’t show me, in nature, in acts of kindness (regardless of how a person looks), even in things that can’t be seen. And I also believe that nobody, no matter how powerful and reliable (yes, faithful Google, I’m sorry to say that you’re included in this) can tell anyone else what beauty is and what beauty is not.’ – Alexandra Van Schilt, Writer

‘I openly admit I use a lot of beauty products. However, I am also willing to admit that most of the advertisements around these products are really dumb. For example I have never seen an ad for waxing strips that actually used a hairy person. Instead I am meant to be convinced at the ability of these strips by the CGI female happily ripping invisible hairs from her hair-free legs. Now if you were to show me someone getting their back waxed with the same carefree smile, I might be more inclined to believe in the ability of your product.’ – Danielle Scoins, Writer

‘Interestingly for a concept that has been so rigidly defined by patriarchal society, the first recorded use of the phrase “beauty in the eye of the beholder” was by a woman; specifically Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, an Irish writer in the 19th century. Despite her description placing “beauty” firmly in the subjective, the two fights for what is beautiful generally lean towards a more solid, objective definition. On the one hand you have media representations and societal ideas of beauty, which are almost solely white, able-bodied and thin; on the other, there is the body positivity movement, determined to show that everybody is beautiful regardless of whether they fit some narrow template invented by people who want to sell clothes. The difference between the two is that while the former is an order, criticism and implied aspiration all at once, the latter is a movement based around acceptance of who you already are as opposed to who you maybe should be. I’ve seen a lot of people criticise the “all bodies are beautiful” rhetoric on the basis that it shouldn’t matter whether a body is beautiful or not, and it’s a fair point – especially since body positivity slogans keep getting hijacked by advertising campaigns for products like Special K or Dove that patently do not care about how you feel about your body, so long as you still feel like you need to buy their stuff. Still, in a world where unscrupulous magazines use up valuable paper trying to shame people for their “failure” to meet some random standard of beauty, it’s pretty important that body positivity campaigners keep doing their thing to fight back. Be beautiful if you want to be!’ – Lucy Uprichard, Writer 


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