Our Unreasonable And Arbitrarily Critical Standards For Women Making An Effort To Enhance Their Beauty » VSB

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Our Unreasonable And Arbitrarily Critical Standards For Women Making An Effort To Enhance Their Beauty

There’s a lot of huff made these days about social media and an alleged rise in vanity and narcissism (despite neither being all that quantifiable). People bemoan Snapchat filters, Facetune, and the heavily glammed up ladies that employ their visual enhancing features. Not surprisingly, this huff is usually directed at women; most of whom are often accused of being both vapid and dubious. Obviously filters can be made to beautify; they smooth skin, slim faces, and brighten teeth. Waists can be snatched, hips curved, asses can be plumped, noses can be nipped, all with the swipe of a screen or touch of a button. We are indeed living in a much more visual world, and a lot of us are much more image savvy than our generational predecessors. That being said, it doesn’t necessarily explain the vitriol sometimes directed at women who people accuse of “faking” or “cheating” at being beautiful and are deemed unworthy of such acclaim.

We’ve all seen the shock and dismay at “before & after” pictures of women who have undergone a dramatic transformation with the help of a skilled makeup artist. Peruse the comments under any such image on Facebook, IG, or Twitter and what you’ll often see is a range of shock, awe, and disgust baked into commentary characterized as harmless jokes.

Men will exclaim “shit like this is why I have trust issues” and even other women will chime in to agree that this type of ‘transformation’ is both deceitful and unnecessary. The overall reaction seems to imply that people get very disturbed when the women they deem naturally unattractive can be thought to be attractive even in a passing moment. You can see the same elements regarding imagery of women who’ve had surgical enhancements often prompting the cry “What is the world coming to? What happened to [real] natural beauty?”

Beauty is a complicated thing; some folks say its subjective or political. Some folks try to measure it with the golden ratio and assemble a list of white actresses who allegedly embody its perfection. However, what’s indisputable is that beauty is a commodity and treated as such. These days, the everyday woman has unprecedented access to plastic surgery procedures, make up techniques, advanced weave & lace front technology and photo enhancing methods that were once only available to starlets. Consequently, as with anything in this world, once something becomes more accessible, people begin to elect themselves arbiters, gatekeepers, and protectors of its purer, “realer” form. If beauty is no longer as exclusive, how do we then value it? If any ole woman can become “beautiful” then what other metric can a woman’s value can women be judged by? Something trivial like her personality or character?! Who wants that? Who can be trusted?!

That seems to be at the root of the panic found in men who express feeling violated for having been attracted to a complete stranger that benefits greatly from skillfully applied makeup or clever camera angles, and women who find themselves competing for male attention with other women who might have purchased the coveted physical features they were born with. The floodgates are open, and now anyone with about $5-8k and a ticket to the Dominican Republic,  can become desirable. Is this really some sort of social anarchy that merits panic? A significant indicator of moral decay?

Now, there might be some arguable valid concerns in all of this. As there is a rise in plastic surgery that a AAFRPS survey associates with social media, and while that in itself is not necessarily a morally “bad” thing, it can translate to more opportunity for unscrupulous and bootleg plastic surgeons, and invasive procedures do involve risk. Several people have died from non-FDA approved butt shots, in an attempt to obtain the homogeneous body shape of prized IG models. And there is always that margin of people who go for unfathomable body proportions, and charlatans who tout their new BBL (Brazilian Butt Lift) as the result of the new Flat Tummy Tea and workout regimen they’re selling. One can argue that it contributes to unrealistic expectations for women, but has ‘natural beauty’ ever been more attainable? So often people couch facile critiques of women’s choices in regards to their appearance, in feigned concern for their health and well being, it’s hard to discern what’s what. Reinforcement of beauty standards is so often about obedience, not health and certainly not the benefit of women.

Humans have always been image conscious, and it’s likely since the first black obsidian glass mirrors were made in Antonia we’ve found ways to beautify and improve the reflections staring back at us. And while we have more advanced smoke & mirrors at our disposal, the average woman is not that skilled at drastic transformations. Sometimes a professionally beat face can be a treat, self expression, or a cathartic indulgence. Sometimes you just wanna conceal a hormonal breakout, sometimes dog ears are just fun, sometimes you decide you’re finally gonna go through with that ‘mommy makeover’ because it’s time do something for yourself. Hell, sometimes you just wanna look like the prototypical ‘bad bitch.’ Maybe you are feeling a little insecure about your appearance, is that ok? These motivations however, are not always tell-tell signs of low self esteem, intent to deceive or shame or an omen of a doomed generation.

The difference between repulsive vanity and celebration of beauty seems to depend on who’s holding the lens. It’s acceptable when a woman’s beauty is celebrated by observers, but not when she’s leading the parade herself. Despite that meme (you know the one) depicting a woman on her knees giving blowjobs to various phallic shaped social media platforms that your MCM crush posts on IG with a ‘Food 4 thought’ caption, social media is not corrupting masses of wimmenz. Nor is it leading them down a path of wayward digital fellatio gangbangs in an attempt for validation.

We’ve always lived in a world where beauty is demanded of women, and those who cannot or are disinterested in producing it are ignored, mocked and /or scorned, those who try to conform are mocked and scorned, and those who fit within its relative parameters while celebrated are also treated like possessions. It’s a difficult maze that we all struggle in navigating while trying to maintain some semblance of sanity and positive self image, and the world as we know it is not in danger because a  few of us engage in a little more pageantry and self aggrandizing along the way.

P.S – You will have to pry the blue hued SC filter from my cold dead hands, my phone’s front facing camera makes me look like a skeptical potato

Danielle Butler

Danielle Butler is a 30-ish yr old LA/Chicago hybrid whose mutant powers include shit talking, procrastinating, and relating any topic to food. Her favorite pastimes include watching Spongebob with her son, yelling at her cat, and lying about working on her book of short stories.

  • Numbah5

    Bottom line, folks need to mind their own eyebrows, everything ain’t for everybody, do you and all the other ways to tell folks to step off about what women do to THEIR OWN BODY/FACE.

  • Other_guy13

    There’s pressure on both sides. I hate to be that guy but it’s true. My hope..is that by the time I have children they won’t have to deal with any of this. People need to realize that there always someone for everyone. If you feel the need to change someone or change yourself for validation then rethink your priorities in life. Society has put so much pressure for people to look and act a certain way. Be unapologetically you…no matter who tells you to change. You are nobodies business but your own.

    • Tam

      OG…

      My hope..is that by the time I have children

      I am glad you have given up the fight. * grins*

      Back to the matter at hand, these ‘standards’ have been around since time immemorial and slavery and racism as institutions have not helped the matter. Beauty and meters of attractiveness are another mode of power wielding and appropriation, just ask the biblical Jezebel, David, Samson, Bathsheba, Salome. What people need to realise that celebrities are not and should not the standard since they have an unfair advantage, and that is why self confidence and self worth are important. What you would need to do as a parent is try your utmost to instill those value system in your child/ren so s/he/they do not feel less than.

  • If any ole woman can become “beautiful” then what other metric can a woman’s value can women be judged by? Something trivial like her personality or character?! Who wants that? Who can be trusted?!

    Excellent point, but here’s the thing: learning someone’s character and personality requires getting to know someone, and that’s scary as f*ck. Emotional intimacy can get someone got, and that fear is real and often justified.

    Look, BBD wisely told us not to trust a big butt and a smile. That horrible character can lie underneath. Personally, I’m a fan of the surgically enhanced booty movement due to my own psychosocial issues with hyperfemininity and the fear of abusing someone who isn’t capable of adult $exual interactions. Still, that whole emotional intimacy thing is scary for dudes. Exponentially so when you’ve been burned by a woman before. In a way, this beauty thing is a way for men to express their fears of emotional intimacy in a way that wouldn’t permanently dry out women and reduce him to Pr0nhub.

    Perhaps we should have more healthy options for straight men to be vulnerable…but nah. :)

    • Other_guy13

      Todd for the win

    • It’s St Patrick’s day. I’ll take a big butt and a smile today.

      • Other_guy13

        Due to the Holiday it may be a flat butt, smile, and Make America Great again hat.

        • Rewind4ThatBehind

          smh @ these Irish illegal immigrants looking for a hand out now that they realize the smoking gun isn’t solely focused on brown folks anymore.

        • Painful facts. LOL

      • Tam

        With the African quote that is now Irish..smdh

    • LMNOP

      Emotional intimacy is no joke.

      I always say if you give a person the means to hurt you, they probably will. It doesn’t matter if that’s a physical weapon or just personal knowledge about you. Now that I write that out, it seems kind of messed up and unhealthy actually, but true.

      • We are reluctant to look ourselves in the mirror. Kind of hard to get intimate when you’re scared of yourself.

      • esa

        “The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.” ~Bob Marley

        also bearing in mind, we harm ourselves all the time. one of our biggest enemies is already inside the gate. i’m less concerned about other people, on the whole, since i have no power over them ..

    • Wild Cougar

      What the hale are you talking about. I’m almost afraid know

      • miss t-lee

        I’m glad I wasn’t the only one with this question.

      • TheCollinB

        Deduced. The influx of the well put together woman by means outside Mother Nature has essentially given men an area to sound off on their issues with intimacy and connection indirectly.

        • Wild Cougar

          I don’t see how the two things are connected.

          • TheCollinB

            If a man is saying jokingly “this is why I have trust issues” solely based off a picture (as the article points out) what he could be saying is I don’t think I can keep a woman this attractive. She’s probably not going to be faithful to me because once she gets attention from other men she’ll lose interest in me because truthfully I don’t have much confidence in myself or think I have self worth to have someone like you.

            • Accurate. Painfully accurate.

    • Brooklyn_Bruin

      If her screen is cracked, that’s basically all I need to know.

    • TheCollinB

      “More healthy options for straight men to be vulnerable”

      Talk. To. These. N*ggas. Todd.

    • Val

      “I’m a fan of the surgically enhanced booty movement…”

      Interesting.

      • Recently, a female friend of mine straight up asked on FB if anyone liked these fake booties. I responded that yes, I do. I might as well have revealed myself as a Trump voter. LOL

  • Tam
  • miss t-lee

    I love how some folks wanna act like folks haven’t been doing things to enhance their beauty since the beginning of time. Only thing now is that folks are more open about their accoutrements.
    Ain’t nothing new under the sun.

    • esa

      folks like to act brand new, thinking it puts them in a morally superior lane.

      • miss t-lee

        True.

  • AlwaysPi7

    Less is more is my philosophy.

    • SoonToBeMrs

      Most definitely.

  • Lara

    I thought this was going to be another article about “white beauty standards”. Refreshingly, it was not about that.

    • LMNOP

      If you don’t like it here, the door works both ways.

      • Lara

        I was pleasantly surprised by the article. I decided if there are any more anti white articles on here, I am not going to comment on them.

        • Rewind4ThatBehind

          I’ll get working on that right away then.

      • grownandsexy2

        lol

  • Glo

    The thing is, you’ll be shamed for wearing makeup, wigs, weaves, shapewear, etc. You’ll also be shamed for going all natural. There is no way you can win with everyone, so you may as well do whatever makes you happy.

    • Other_guy13

      Sad but true

    • miss t-lee

      *takes a lap around the church*

    • Ess Tee

      *shakes tambourine*

    • PhlyyPhree

      *makes it jingle in the offering*

    • DarkSkint Dostoevsky

      any woman who’s had to big chop knows the ‘men love natural wimmenz’ thing is a complete lie lol. Once my hair grew I got better reception. It is what it is, we are all fighting the same battles, I just encourage women to pick a helmet they really like.

      • Glo

        “Pick a helmet you really like.” I want to put this on a shirt.

      • grownandsexy2

        That hasn’t been my experience. You’d be surprised at the number of men who come up to me to say they love it. (Not that I would care if they didn’t). What I did learn is that a lot of women want to, but won’t because of how the men in their lives feel about hair. They just think I’m brave. lol. I do believe that most men like long hair tho. Interestingly my SO didn’t like my chop, cause he knew me when I had hair and he’s ole school. He asked me why, along with 20 other questions. Wanted me to let it grow back. Nope. Mumbled something about women out here buying weave and you choppin’ yours off. lol. He’s known me long enough to know that I do me, not what everyone else is doing.

        • DarkSkint Dostoevsky

          maybe because I have a big head and benefit from volume lol. But I’ve met a lot of BW who have had similar experiences.

          • catgee12

            “maybe because I have a big head and benefit from volume” – story of my life … LMAO

          • grownandsexy2

            My head ain’t small, but I don’t care. lol. I get a lot of “you have a nice shaped head.” I’ll never let it grow out.

        • Gibbous

          I’ve worn a TWA my whole life (age 6) . I get a ton of complements from women who say some version of “It looks great on you but I could NEVER do that,” followed by something, mumble, mumble, shape of your head, mumble, mumble. Yes you can! You can do whatever you darn well please to your hair, you’ve just decided that you don’t want to. Not wanting to is a fine reason, just say that though instead of making excuses.

          When I was a lot younger, complete strangers – men – would come up to me and ask me why I didn’t grow my hair out. My answer was always “I don’t want to.” Who asks that of a total stranger? Really?? What if I said cancer? Lice? bedbugs? Do you really think I don’t know how short my hair is?

          • grownandsexy2

            My hair cut is extremely close to my scalp. My cut makes Amber Rose look as though she has a lot of hair. lol. 15 Years ago, when I had it cut, I met a lot of cancer survivors as they assumed I had cancer and was going through chemo so they thought nothing about asking. lol. I see more women now with short cuts (but I’ve only seen one with her hair as close as mine). So maybe that’s the reason why they no longer ask.

            I did meet a woman at the AA museum in DC who walked by and pressed a card in my hand. The card was for her alopecia support group. lol. She thought I had alopecia. I still chuckle when I think about her because she was so smooth with it. Pressed it in my hand and never missed a step. We did talk for awhile as I shared I didn’t have alopecia. My girlfriend thought she should be able to tell the difference between alopecia and a haircut, but in her defense, the lighting was subdued. So yes, folks are forward and men worship at the altar of hair. Hair could walk down the street by itself and men would like it.

    • Monica Harris

      Truth. I recently shamed my sister for not wearing enough makeup and doing her hair like I thought she should. She checked me real quick. Never thought I’d be that person that needed to be checked for that.

  • I Came I Saw

    I love this post. Always timely. By way of Bossip, Tyrese “dropped some knowledge” on women and their beauty habits once again: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1ee94884b24e6bda05eb9bad8172d7efabcb6111f60b158fc3255bb1d10c53be.jpg

    • DarkSkint Dostoevsky

      Oh God, he still sayin things

      • HouseOfBonnets

        Unfortunately

      • I Came I Saw

        Yep. So you just said a WHOLE word with this post today. Also with the fight for that blue-hued filter which was, in fact, life altering.

        • DarkSkint Dostoevsky

          I try not to get too close because it makes my nose too skinny but once you get the right distance?????

          • I Came I Saw

            Yep, or you get that weird contouring shadow on your nose if you’re not angled right. But yeah, when it’s good, it’s SO GOOD.

    • miss t-lee

      Yeah, I saw this mindless drivel the other night.
      I’m just surprised things are spelled correctly.

      • I Came I Saw

        Some is, but some ain’t. He could’ve written it in Latin, I’d still be like, “SHUUUT UUUUUUP, MOOOOOORON!”

        • miss t-lee

          I generally don’t pay him in attention on any level. Only time I see him by accident is when I’m watching the FF movies and only because he just happens to be in them with eye candy I really wanna see.

    • Ess Tee

      I was juuuuusssst thinking about this while reading the post.

      Men like Tyrese exhaust me. They want to drool over the “bad b!tch” type but then when the average woman takes steps to even buy one piece of the accoutrements* to achieve some semblance of “bad b!tch”osity, they take it as an opportunity to rail on her so-called vanity.

      *Google really tryna play me like I’m Tyrese and don’t know how to properly spell “accoutrements,” going so far as to put the red squiggly line beneath it. Not today!

      • miss t-lee

        They tried to play me too girl…lol
        I was like BYTCH I KNOW HOW TO SPELL.

        • Ess Tee

          NOT. TUH-DAY!

      • I Came I Saw

        lol @ Google’s shade. That ain’t right. And yeah, he married a carbon copy of the Instagram type so now everybody gotta come out the womb lookin like her? Boy bye.

    • TheCollinB

      worse is that he gets women to buy into this bullshyt

      • miss t-lee

        He’s diet Teeth Harvey.

    • HouseOfBonnets

      I wish he would leave us be and go forth with his African Queen….. Just put out r&b albums because I expected better from if it’s magic.

    • Wild Cougar

      The funny thing about that is you can only tell when it’s badly done. He thinks he’s clever….BW constantly asking me how I get my hair to look so nice, regardless of if it’s a curly crochet or a coarse straight wig with my lil leave out that I let go grey on purpose…..

      • miss t-lee

        Yeah, a badly done lacefront is an abomination.

      • I Came I Saw

        Exactly. A poorly executed hairstyle of ANY sort will look unnatural, including hair dye, highlights, low lights, braids, whatever.

    • Tam

      Why is he still a thing?

      • I Came I Saw

        I wish I could tell you, Tam-Tam.

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        Other women.

        Damn sure aint men buying his stuff, listening to his shows, etc. Not enough of them to compare.

    • Charles Johnson

      Plot twist, that’s my Lacey front

      • I Came I Saw

        lol You do you, bew.

    • SoonToBeMrs

      He took me out when he said 4 different directions!! Lawd.

    • Glo

      My thing is this: he’s gonna pretend that he and his friends are just hooking up with these “fake women” for kicks and not because they’re really attracted to them. Newsflash: if your body is interested in fucking another person’s body, you’re attracted to that person. No if, ands, or buts about it.

      The problem is that he feels some level of shame for being attracted to these women, so he needs to sleep with them and then treat them like they’re objects instead of humans.

  • HouseOfBonnets

    1. Checking in because the new client has me on a tight deadline Hey y’all ????

    2. Great article I agree 100 percent. At this point as long as you’re 100 percent sure do what you want to make you happy also you don’t feel forced to fit one specific spectrum of beauty.

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