I was pleased to see that most of the class feels that “the beautiful and thin” are not the only women “valued and loved” by our society. Most people felt that appearances did make a difference in how people were perceived and accepted, but not in whether they were able to find love and acceptance. Appearance, good personal hygiene, and a modicum of fashion sense were important for initially attracting attention, but may not be critical to maintaining a relationship.
Amy felt that dressing and primping was part of daily life, that it is “proper etiquette to care for personal hygiene and to present oneself in an acceptable manner.” Jeremy agreed that self-care and hygiene are important. He went on to say, “Healthy is beautiful, skinny is not only not beautiful, but is also not healthy. I think the disconnect comes from our society’s worship of the celebrity. Take a look at any supermarket gossip magazine and you will be bombarded with images of unhealthily skinny women (sometimes even just girls).” The sentiment that it was the image portrayed by the mass media was largely at fault for the substitution of healthy women for an unhealthy ideal. Kellie Burns has banned Barbie dolls from her daughter because she feels that Barbie portrays unrealistic ideals for developing young girls.
Brenda Dejamaer pointed out that there are many reasons, besides overeating, that make it difficult for people to fit the skinny model look. Various diseases, hormones, drugs, and basic changes in metabolism as we age can contribute to weight gain. A student with Cherokee heritage pointed out that genetics can contribute, and there is nothing you can do about “large sturdy ankles” inherited from your parents.
One thing I found interesting is that while a male admitted to only pursuing attractive females, some of the women stated that particularly attractive women were off-putting. Michael has known “a few women that are overweight and they are awesome”, but if he was “not attracted to them … [he] would never marry them. [He] would never be able to make love to a women with a unibrow”. Heidi pointed out that, unless you are in a “Hollywood crowd”, that “The average woman is more likely to ‘fit in’ to social situations, jobs, etc. than ‘a model looking woman’. Haven’t you ever been at a party and seen a gorgeous women walk into the room? Most guys are too scared to interact with her, and most girls will shun her because she is too pretty.” Kellie Burns stated that, “as a woman, I feel intimidated by women in little clothes and ‘booming’ bodies.” Despite knowing that she is “strong, smart, and pretty… [such] women are still capable of making [her] feel inadequate”.
In conclusion, I was happy to see that most of the women felt that appearance was not something worth going to extremes over. While they admit that appearance is important to attracting a man’s attention, what is inside is at least as, and probably more, important. Most of the men agreed, though some did place importance on women molding themselves into accepted norms in order to maintain a healthy relationship. Nicole Zolty summed up my feelings well when speaking of two men who gave her ultimatums to remain skinny or their relationship was over: “what amazed me is that some people are so hung up on thinness that they feel it is acceptable to make such stipulations on another.” And, yet, that is exactly what society does to women every day.