I tend to think that I am progressive about what I think is beautiful but definitely admit to certain biases. I like nice teeth- that doesn't mean they have to be perfect- I like certain gappy smiles but overall the teeth need to be relatively straight & I definitely do not like yellowed teeth. I do not like wide-set eyes. I don't know why but wide set eyes just sets off my "ugh" meter as far as beauty goes. Certain body types also set off "ugh" even though many think these body types beautiful. An example would be Kate Upton- I don't have an issue with her bustiness but find it odd paired with her thicker middle/lack of hips. I guess my mind tends to think that nature puts certain body parts together. So bust & hips go together in my beauty image rather than bust & straight down from there.
So I tend to side with natural/healthy= beautiful. So I think slim women are beautiful but find women with thin arms & legs with a thick middle rather unattractive. I think heavier women are attractive too- I am good with curves if they are in the right places. So an hourglass shape to me is beautiful. A pear-shaped woman is beautiful. A woman with no waist is not so beautiful.
I am concerned with this push to accept all bodies as beautiful because the fact is kids are getting fat. At 45 I am at a similar size to my high school days. In high school I considered myself not necessarily fat, but definitely not thin. I was muscular but curvy too. In the mid-80s when I was in HS, I was kind of in the middle of the weight spectrum- being only 5'2" and more busty than most made me think of myself as a bit heavier and not a petite or skinny girl. Now, at 45, I am on the thin side compared to my peers. I see photos classmates that look like the woman that ate the girl I graduated with. I know it's hard not to put on weight especially as we get older but it seems like my generation "gave up" on trying to maintain a decent weight compared to my mom's generation when in 40s. Very telling when my daughter was looking through my old yearbooks and commented "There weren't fat people in your school." I pointed out various people who were considered on the heavy side back in the day and she replied "Wow, those would be average people now." What chance do today's high school girls have when the average has gotten so much heavier? So why would we promote an even more unhealthy attitude about weight by saying "you are beautiful" regardless of truth.
I understand that there are truly those that have very little control over weight but these are really the minority-- these were the ones labeled "fat" back in my high school days. I would not say that we have genetically changed so much in one generation where everyone is now destined to be fat. The problem is that lifestyle has changed way too much. I find it sad that I have been confused for a high school girl because I am in better shape at 45 than average high school girl. The very same classmates who look like they ate their former self are constantly posting recipes or where they ate out. I see their kids on a bad path already. My daughter was a bookworm and not interested in sports until 7th grade when she joined track. She went through a phase where she was getting chubby and I told her that she needs to pay attention to what she eats- in other words she shouldn't be having ice cream and goodies as much as she had been for her activity level. That may sound like an awful thing for a mom to do, but I have always been a realist and wanted to teach my kids that there are plenty of things within their control including weight. If she had been eating "good food" I would not have said anything because then it would have just been natural weight gain but when it is lifestyle, I am going to say something. Just as it is unhealthy to promote skinny at all cost, I think it is also unhealthy to promote beautiful at any weight when we are telling young people that it is fine to eat whatever you want (mostly garbage) and sit on butt and society should still say that you are beautiful. I could not be the mother that allowed my child to continue to eat unhealthily/not exercise and turn a blind eye to it.
I do wish there was more truth in beauty. It's hard to give girls a sense of healthy weight/body image when even our most beautiful have been photoshopped to extremes. It's not just removing a blemish but taking major inches off waistlines, thighs and so forth so that we compare ourselves to these false images and wonder why we can't be like "her." How can an average woman/girl compete with the photoshopped image when even the real person can't? It would be much better to show the reality that is actually somewhat attainable.
The same goes with plastic surgery. If you have "work done" then admit to it. I admire Sharon Stone for refusing to have plastic surgery and still looking awesome. Even though Joan Rivers' plastic surgery is obvious, I respect that she's upfront with it. It is pathetic in my opinion to have work done and then pretend like it's all natural. Maybe I am one that is too big on the truth- if someone says- "I like your hair color" I am going to tell them that I had help in that department. I am eternally grateful to my parents for getting me braces because I know how much fixing my overbite added to my "beauty" and self image. I guess I always want to help others- so if I can help someone else by giving away my beauty secrets then I will. That would especially be true if I went to great lengths like plastic surgery- I would feel guilty taking compliments about looking great if it was due to a facelift and I didn't say so.
One thing that inspires me is seeing African American women embrace natural hair rather than trying to get "white hair." I think natural hair is way more beautiful than the damaged relaxed hair or weaves. I believe in celebrating what you have that makes you different. I find it distasteful that of late so many school dress codes have banned hairstyles that target natural hair and individual style. As someone who had way too many perms, I am much happier now that I have embraced that my hair is straight & doesn't curl. So I do not waste my time on it other than coloring it. Yes, I have my vanity point of not liking the gray so I will continue to fight that battle- but at least I'm not trying to pretend that it is natural. I work hard at certain things- maintaining fitness/body weight- for which I am very proud. I am blessed with some things & count myself lucky. And if I happen to have extra help, I will share that secret. If there is any ideal beauty it is working with what you have, improving what you can, accepting what you can't, and making the best of it while being true to yourself.