OBSESSION OVER BEAUTY AND BEING THIN

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OBSESSION OVER BEAUTY AND BEING THIN

Is there a message here about our culture, which seems to worship youth and beauty? If so, should it be shared with your daughters?   Without a doubt.   As the saying goes “TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED.”

Consider another sad example from the life and death of a beauty queen. Her name was Anna Nicole Smith, and she was Playboy’s Playmate of the Year in 1993 and a model for Guess jeans. She fantasized about becoming the next Marilyn Monroe and was compared to sultry actress Jean Harlow. Anna Nicole married an eighty-nine-year-old Texas oil tycoon when she was twenty-six. She died on February 8, 2007, after being found unconscious in her hotel room. The cause of death was a drug overdose from nine different types of medications. In that regard, Anna achieved her goal of being like Marilyn. They both died alone after overdosing.

What men consider beautiful about women changes over time. In 16th-century Antwerp, Peter Paul Rubens taught Dutch men to lust after pudgy brunettes. In 20th-century America, Hugh Hefner taught American men to lust after busty blondes, women just like Anna Nicole Smith. Any reflections on her death must first begin with deep sadness for yet another premature and needless death in our wounded world. Thirty-nine-year-old women should not die. We must also grieve for her infant daughter who, regardless of her possible fortune, is now consigned by fate to grow up without a mother—just as Anna Nicole had been forced by the same cruel fate to grow up without a father. Next we must force ourselves to remember that this front-page story is echoed by a thousand untold stories about unknown women who have died or been killed or driven to fatal addictions just because they were pretty. These women died because they were meat on the banquet table of predatory men. Their deaths must not be seen as merely tragic accidents, but as cautionary tales for us all, and particularly for men who are taught to see women as playthings and not as human beings made.  Treating women, particularly pretty women, as meat is not a new social pathology or a new sin. It is as old as women and men. I am sure that among the early hominoids there were women with rapturously beautiful body hair who were harassed and pursued.     Now the PC term for treating women as meat is “objectification.” Whatever the label, the essence of this perversion of human dignity is unchanged over time. The idea that half of the human beings on planet earth only matter because of their physical appearance remains an outrageous assault on the human dignity of women.

The problem with treating women as meat is that many of the solutions offered up are far worse than the problem. The Taliban had an easy and perverse solution, and that was to treat women as prisoners. Completely covering up the female form with a burqa and shutting women out of Afghani public and professional life is even worse than being forced to hear about the latest exploits of Paris, Lindsay and Britney. On the other hand, making the case that there is nothing wrong with women freely displaying their bodies and embracing their sexuality in any way they desire is equally perverse because it supports porn, which coarsens our culture, degrades women and led to the death of a woman whose infant daughter needs her now. We need to find a place between prudes and porn. The future of our culture and the dignity of both men and women depend upon us finding such a place now.

An important move in learning not to treat women as meat is to restore the sundered link between love and sex. Porn is not possible if sex is widely seen as a way to express love. If sex is nothing more than scratching an itch, it can- not be the physical consequence of love and trust. Love is never casual, and when sex becomes casual it cannot serve the needs of love. Some say that the best way to reestablish this link between love and sex is to teach that the only satisfying context for this linkage is marriage. I agree, but this need not be the first step in recovering a more modest culture. If men and women just decided to only have sex with people they deeply love and deeply trust, we as a culture would be miles down the right road.   I feel that human worth should not depend inordinately on physical attractiveness. Furthermore, as we have seen, those who are born with striking beauty might not be better off than those who are more ordinary. To be judged as acceptable or not acceptable based on one’s physical attributes is harmful to everyone.    This is part of the problem today, I have seen where more and more of those that would be labeled “ordinary” or judged on physical attributes is so wrong. They are ignored and are treated if they don’t exist or not even there.    You can miss so much by judging or ignoring them.   Many have so much to offer even though they may not be a stunning beauty.   I do realize that sometimes this isn’t the case but still…..  And even their ego and self-esteem get bruised in the bargain.  Even boys are being hit by the ricochet today.

.    There were times that I felt that I was unlovely, unlovable, ugly and unworthy.  It’s not true, but it still hurts even when I get treated like crap now (even if it’s by someone who claims to care). This is why I do my best to help others to recognize their worth. If respect for ourselves doesn’t take root in the heart, we can never realize the full potential of who God created us to be, and we can never really respect others.  Through the years I have seen a decline in the behavior of young ladies. My heart has been heavy for them as I see such wounds and pain. Seeing in them the same struggles I have experienced, I began to seek ways to address some of them.   I found ways to help myself even, meditation, faith, prayer……

These girls had no idea that they could expect to be treated like ladies, let alone act like one.   The girls who didn’t have the moral guidance of an involved parent habitually made poor choices (and it didn’t matter about one’s financial status).   I found that engaging these young ladies helped many of them to realize they were worth more than they knew, and they began expecting others to treat them with healthy respect. And it goes way beyond expecting boys to be gentlemen. With these girls it is about respecting themselves, accepting who they were, and coming to the point of celebrating who they were created to be.

I am reminded of a Scripture that places our society’s attitudes toward women into proper perspective. It reads, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30). Selling that concept to a girl who hates herself might be a tough assignment, but the case can and should be made nonetheless.

I totally don’t get the deal with being a bean pole.   So, what is this obsession with it and why are there some guys who actually give their women crap for putting on a few pounds?    Something that really bothers  me with this whole thin issue: is  let’s be a size 0, and seeing super thin models and dolls  that even show up in shop windows that are thinner than the street lights on the street.  It sends the wrong message to all girls of all ages.

Kathy Kiefer

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