You know art museums? Those places you go to admire works that have persisted in immortal beauty. Well, there are some images that have not stood the test of time — the hideous portraits of …
Stay with me, I know that sounds mean. But, c’mon. The unibrows, the short ruffled hair, the pale skin, the fat rolls. The stares of death. Did they know they weren’t on fleek? That one day we wouldn’t get their aesthetic? FR they are so not TD. (That’s “for real” and “to die” for those of us who aren’t hip anymore- I googled it for us).
Well, not so much. You see, these works of art reveal women who were completely “finesse” for their day. They were proud of their selfies as men appreciated their non sun-kissed skin, muffin tops, and fat dimpled thighs. Besides the past 100 years, most of human history upheld beautiful bodies as the weightier, the better. Curvy meant you had more than enough food to eat. Pale was in, blonde was out. If you were a part of the Han Dynasty, you better have small feet but if you were part of Victorian England, your waist better be cinched. Ancient Greece preferred full-bodied and plump women whereas Ancient Egypt preferred slender, narrow shouldered women. Traditional African beauty included such practices as “fattening rooms” for young soon-to-be brides (um, yes please!).
Centuries later, we now look upon these works of art with a little chuckle, or maybe disgust. Because 2017 is full of images that are quite the contrary — sparkly bronzed skin, perfectly painted eyebrows, plump selfie puckers, rail-thin legs, essential thigh gaps, and perfectly perky curves. Beauty standards, that in some cases, are only attainable through a knife. I think our predecessors would be appalled with such nonsense. And feel super lucky they weren’t born at such a time. Rightfully so.
Even though I’ve already seen flaky fads in my era, I semi-consciously hold fleeting beauty standards in high regard. Like they are my measurement of self worth. Are the flawless images bombarding us my standards? Or maybe my own judgments about my looks and body? Perhaps my outlook was influenced by my mom’s words. Or that criticism I still remember when a high school “friend” proclaimed to everyone I “wasn’t even cute.”
And how impossible are sticky critiques and self criticism coupled with current beauty standards?
My thighs and waistline must get thinner. But my bust and butt must get fuller. Lips luscious and forehead firm. Expression lines are to be feared and gravity must be dominated. Should I hold back from laughing so much? Not squint in the sun? I thought my eyebrows were supposed to be plucked and sharp and now they’re supposed to be messy and bushy??? And how is it that men get more sexy with age and women get more… judged? Who can keep up with such craziness?
So, when visiting art museums, I get a little pep in my step. First, because I think, “wow, I’ve got it going on.” Unlike flipping through InStyle or Glamour or Seventeen, which often lead me to a self-confidence funk. But, secondly, I think about the fleeting nature of beauty standards. Here today, gone tomorrow. Slaying it one day, so DONE the next. I realize I should feel free by the reality that…
CURRENT BEAUTY STANDARDS WILL NOT STAND THE TEST OF TIME.
Go ahead, enjoy some. Pick something you like… I do that too. But let’s not measure ourselves against them. Let’s not allow such foolishness to be our truth. Let’s work hard on the inside stuff that holds the test of time. That speaks louder and longer than the outward trends. Character, laughter, lover of people, encourager. I want to be a woman who is authentic and secure and confident. To be a good steward of my relationships and positions and words.
I want to be a woman who brings Heaven to earth, not a woman who compares myself to earthly standards.
Those inside things will succeed us in an eternal way. Even in a mere 10 years, we will judge our stupidity. Our kids will observe our pictures in fields and broken down cars and vintage suitcases and die laughing. We’ll remember face contouring and skinny jeans and ombre’s and go “what were we thinking???” Not to mention the centuries behind us.
So, in short, go visit an art museum. Put down InStyle and look up some portraits of women in the Italian Renaissance. You’ll stare face to face with the reality of our fleeting beauty pressures. And you’ll be better off for the reminder that — they are not our standards of self-worth.