Who is the Beholder of Beauty?


A friend sent me a link to an interview with Dustin Hoffman on his role in the movie Tootsie.  http://www.youtube.co/watch?v=xPAat-T1uhE

In the interview, Dustin Hoffman talks about not being beautiful as a woman.  He says he went home and cried because he thought that he was an interesting woman as Tootsie and told his wife that he had probably missed out on meeting some great women because he would not have talked to a woman that looked like Tootsie if he met her at a party.

Since we got out of the Renaissance, when baroque women were considered to be beautiful (roughly between 1400s-1800s), we have been dealing with a convoluted sense of what beauty is.  Just like men, women come in all different shapes and sizes.   But it seems that women who do not live up to some crazy standard of beauty are ignored.   A woman’s personality, intelligence, accomplishments or humor does not even come into the equation.

We have all felt unattractive at one time or another, but what if you may not be that outwardly attractive woman or you do not conform to the dimensions a woman is supposed to have: your nose is too big, you’re too fat, your eyes are too close together, you’re too dark, you’re too tall, you’re too skinny.  But who decides that? Why can’t a woman who has a bigger nose be seen as attractive, why can’t a woman who is tall be seen as a possibility? And what does this do to a woman? We want to think that we don’t need or want validation from anyone for our own self worth, but we all want to be recognized at the very least as a human being and then, we want to feel that we are  just  as good as all the other women around us.  When we are ignored because we are deemed unattractive, it hurts and makes us question.

And all of this comes from these unrealistic  images that tell us that we are not good enough.  As everyone knows, the average woman is not 6’0″, blonde, D cup breasts, size 2 waist, with an Anglo nose and high cheekbones, but it is what we are bombarded with on a daily basis.  When you have been socialized like this for 20 years, when you go to find a mate, what will you look for? And a better question is what are those of us who don’t look like that supposed to do?  We are left feeling that we need to change in order to not only attract a mate, but to even be recognized.

I am acutely aware of changes.  Women like Melissa McCarthy and Gaby Seidibe are on television and in movies, there are more commercials with Black actors shown during White shows (believe me it’s a new concept) and women are writing, directing and staring in prime time television shows and movies.  These are not trivial achievements.  These mediums are how most of society understands beauty and these changes in that medium are the beginning of undoing 100’s of years of societal brainwashing.

There is nothing wrong with seeing those perfect looking women in magazines, television, movies and videos, but I want to see women who look like me.  I want to see women who look like you.  If we start to see them, maybe we won’t think of beauty as described above.  Maybe men and women will have a more realistic view of who we are.  I don’t have high hopes of changing the minds of older men, but we can try to do better with the new generations coming up.  Maybe when they behold beauty, they will behold us all.

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