How dare they! Give us what we want that is. Phelps and his 16 Olympic medals should have been the toast of the Olympics, but it wasn’t. Phelps was knocked off his podium by his less accomplished teammate Ryan Lochte who only has a sparse 6 medals.
Why was Lochte the break out star at the Olympics? Because he’s hot. Lochte was already on the cover of Vogue, and secured endorsement deals with Sprint, Gatorade, Gillette and Nissan. In the New York Times feature on Lochte The Making of an Olympic Sex Symbol advertisers say, said they are “Phelps’d out.” That’s Industry speak for Phelps is a bore.
But is Beauty Boring?
Maybe when you’re as obsessed with beauty as we are, it’s not uncommon to feel like many things are starting to morph into one pretty, but all-too-similar, page. There’s veteran supermodel Christie demonstrating effortless warm-up stretches at the age of 57. There’s actress Jenny McCarthy, 38, executing impressive yoga and, here comes fresh-faced Hilary Duff, 23, jogging elegantly along a trail path.
These pictures celebrate what we are supposed to regard as the new beauty: ageless, timeless, inclusive. But, it’s always the same message.
You can be gorgeous at any age. Live the dream. Just buy the right products and all this can be yours. Olympic standard fitness? Full make-up and perfectly blow dried hair, which remains immaculate both during and after your workout? Still hot in fishnets in your 50s; Why not? Never give up. Young or old, we’re all beautiful!
But guess what? In the pictures the older women look exactly the same age as the youngest one. The only difference is in the facts of their ages, not their appearance, which in terms of their level of beauty is utterly homogenous.
There is, to be fair, one single, solitary, noticeable wrinkle among them. It’s on Brinkley’s knee. That’s for authenticity because you wouldn’t want to challenge your audience’s suspension of disbelief, would you? Except they have tested our disbelief too far. And that’s a good thing; because no one falls for this stuff any more. There’s a sense that the mendacious perfection narrative is becoming so extreme and overplayed that it’s tired and dull.
Maybe to remedy this, we’ve been looking for something new, something that will light that fire? Honey Boo Boo?
I watched TMZ’s interview with the now famous Honey Boo Boo and her mom. I am not one to judge but I couldn’t help but pay attention to the slightly odd fascination we seem to have with this little girl. To me she is a normal little girl with unhealthy habits. TMZ took it a step further interviewed the family and then polled their audience comparing the Lives and Values of Honey Boo Boo to The Kardashians.
An interesting concept of extremes…
Surprisingly, the poll stated that they believe Honey Boo Boo has better family values than the Kardashians; hence their whirlwind acceptance into modern media culture. However, as a mother who believes in Health and Wellbeing – I am infuriated that we can watch a little girl grow up in this fashion and just let her suffer the consequences without intervening.
Nonetheless, it posed an interesting question – has beauty become boring?
Statistically speaking, there are two main universal keys to beauty for which there is persuasive evidence: facial symmetry and ‘averageness’.
Several factors are making the suggestible among us (OK, mainly women) less pathetic in the face of advertising and celebrity perfection. Not least the increasing amount of commentary and advertising warning men of their physical inadequacies. The more this stuff proliferates, the better. It shows what women have had to deal with for years: stupid, deranged, waste-of-time bitchery.
When asked by host Harvey Levin what she thought about her family being compared to the Kardashians, June scoffed at that idea. From her perspective, even with the success “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” the six-year-old still lives a normal life.
The answer lies not in fancy geometry but in two basic relationships: whether the left side matches the right (symmetry), and whether the proportions match those with which we are most familiar (normality or ‘averageness’). That beauty should lie in averageness is paradoxical, because we tend to think of ‘average’ as mundane. Sure, the most beautiful faces do not have average proportions, but nonetheless learning what is ‘normal’ for the faces around us is a powerful force in defining what for us is beautiful.
The reality is that people know they aren’t characters from a movie or book or game, even if they’re emulating or inspired by them. People are always trying to be their best selves, or the ideal “self” they fantasize about, but the realities of life, and peccadilloes of personal choice inevitably get in the way.
What’s astonishing and fascinating is how tolerance fits into all this. The rise of political correctness means it is no longer acceptable to ridicule people with life-affecting physical flaws or anomalies. And yet when it comes to the ordinary, standard-issue human body, as a culture we have never been less tolerant of ageing, unattractiveness or the tiniest of physical differences.
I guess we will never stop the march of the beautiful. But we can learn – and we are learning – not to be adversely affected by it.
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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