Friday, May 29, 2009

Suffer for beauty, oh bitchy one

Across borders and throughout centuries, women's relationship with beauty is that of an S&M.

Back in our school days, we have read about tribal women who chisel their teeth, pierce their nipples, drill big holes on their ears and put huge tattoos all over their bodies. In the Victorian era, women endured breathlessness and pain in the middle section in order to attain the hourglass figure that corsettes gave. A thousand years ago and until the early 1900s, in China, women suffered the excruciatingly difficult process of breaking and binding the foot; a lifelong tremendous effort for beauty.

These days, women still suffer, though in less absurd ways. We spend hours in the gym motivated by the "no pain, no gain" mantra just so we can achieve the look or the feeling that we want. We lie on the derma's beds, which are actually beds of roses and thorns, as we stifle the screams of pain from the pricking and inserting of needles used in procedures to eliminate flaws or even change the way we look. In more simple events, many of us go for toners with the astringent effect or tend to sacrifice comfort for style like enduring the pain from dancing all night in sexy stilettos. And in some ways, we also have to repress the pain that our affinity for beauty causes to our pockets.

Speaking in terms of sex and bitchhood, I say that the quest for beauty is similar to losing one's virginity. Along the lines of pricking, waxing and threading; it always really hurts on the first time. But since it made you look and feel good, the saying that "once you pop, you can't stop" applies. It goes on to the point that you finally find yourself addicted to pain--living through and loving it; knowing that glory awaits the brave ones.

For hundreds and thousands of years, women have suffered in the name of beauty. While we maintain that to look good is our primary motivation, we leave in the shadows the reasons behind our sadomasochistic approach to beauty. Okay, we want to feel good about ourselves. But why? Can we not feel good even without having to go through such process?

I believe that the raison d'etre lies on the lines of acceptance. In an article on the Lotus Foot, I found this
:"The driving force behind this desire was complex: it had to do with marriage;
it had to do with sex; it had to do with status; it had to do with beauty; it
had to do with duty." (Footwear Fetish - An Erotic Tradition,

These days, it is not just fair for women to blame men for their sufferings. The quest for beauty has something to do with acceptance from the opposite sex or from persons within the ranks found in the social circles where we find ourselves in. It may be to appease the wants of a domineering mother; the conditions of a meticulous lover; the observant eyes of a discriminating social butterfly; or the requirements of a tyrannical boss. Beauty just seems to be a social requirement--where the requirement varies from one social circle to another.Vicky Belo, a world-renowned cosmetic doctor, has been capitalizing on these social requirements to encourage more women to be valiant about addressing their aesthetic insufficiencies. I do not intend to give her any negative associations for this because what she says is basically true!

I remember learning in my Theology class on Marriage and Sexuality that even the late Pope John Paul II says that love starts with attraction. And how in the world can a man single out a female in a room full of them without his own requirement?

In jobs, priority is usually given to the applicant who looks more charming--assuming that all applicants have the same credentials. The same goes with women in sales-oriented careers. The initial requirement is always a good and pleasing personality (which I think is really a good and pleasing appearance). Only after she meets this, will she get the honchos to listen to what she has to present.

Feminists have been successful with attacking the footbinding tradition in China and so are those who fought against other seemingly obscure practices like the stretching of mouths and sculpturing of teeth. But still, there are new traditions to contest and since most of them have become ironically acceptable, we leave them the media and the catwalks for their battlefields.

The "enemy" in the first place is not the men in general but rather, the social constructions made by men and women alike.

Note: The title was fed by a man who does not wish to be named. Published online on 22 Nov 2007.

No comments:

Post a Comment