I've been thinking about a common criticism I see of the media. People have said that advertising, TV, movies and video games present an unrealistic image of women. The images don't look like the average, normal female body. They're hyper-sexualized, with ridiculous, gravity-defying tits, wasp waists, flawless (often Photoshop-lightened) skin, etc. Other people point out that men are depicted unfairly too, with just-as-unattainably perfect looks, careers and libidos. Either way, both sides claim that these unrealistic depictions set up unfair standards that people can't hope to live up to, and it's damaging to their self esteem.
Here's what I think: If you allow commercials and pop culture to dictate how you live your life... isn't that kind of stupid?
Okay, okay; that's kind of harsh, I admit. I'm someone who is vigorously (almost obsessively) independent-minded. And also unlike most people, I only give about a tenth of a shit about my looks. But I know that to some people, that's important. And that's okay.
But here's the thing. If you're going to value conformity over individuality, why the hell are you complaining about what you're told to conform to?
It's not like advertisers just pull this stuff out of their asses. These cartoonishly impossible images of femininity and masculinity don't come from out of the sky. They come from our own desires. Magnified and inflated. This Is What We Want To See. So if it's too hard for you to live up to that, blame biology. Don't expect advertisers to listen when you tell them to put 'normal' people in their ads. That's not what people truly want to see, which means their ads would lose money, and in the end, money is all that's important to them. You can't expect otherwise. It's like expecting a dung beetle not to roll dung: it's the central focus of their existence.
What sense does it make to say, 'I want to follow whatever trends are dictated to me by popular media, but if those looks are impossible to attain, I'll still try my hardest anyway and that'll make me feel sad, so I demand you give me something easier to conform to!' Can you understand why that sounds so crazy to me? If you have the ability to speak out against the cruel mirages of fashion, then why don't you also have the power to not follow them? Or at LEAST to accept that they're impossible, and not try so hard that you destroy your body and sense of self-worth!?
Women: I am never going to take your complaints about fashion seriously until you stop wearing high heels. That's like someone who wears a ball and chain as a fashion accessory, then complains because it hurts. Just take the fucking things off!!
And men: If you need a woman to wear painful footwear, slather her face in artificial coloring, dress in outfits designed for anorexics and not have any noticeable physical flaws in order for you to be sexually attracted to her, then you're ruined. Go beat your meat to Jessica Rabbit, because that's what you really want. A cartoon. Just masturbate to the goddamn fake image because you are never going to get a woman who looks like that. You are not entitled to one as a prize for attaining success. The action movies are lying to you, and you are retarded enough to believe them. Even the women in those movies only look like that because they've been through more hours of makeup than they gave Quark on Star Trek.
That's one of the few legitimate points I've ever heard made against pornography; that it creates unrealistic expectations of sex and the human body. True. But then again, it's far from unique in that regard. And I'm pretty sure that most guys who demand the highest caliber of women in their wank material would nevertheless fling themselves at any old beat-up piece of pussy that happened to present itself in real life.
But I'm getting off topic. Back to the main point: Either conform and shut up about it, or have the guts to live and look however you want.
It's easier than ever too. There's this thing called the internet. And right now, tech-phobic neanderthals are wailing about the fact that people can use it to meet and fall in love without ever actually seeing each other in person! 'Back in my day, there were such things as holding hands and kissing!' I actually saw a newspaper columnist write that. I can't roll my eyes hard enough.
What the internet does is circumvent your body's stupid instinctive attractions. When you meet someone in real life, it's not you that's really seeing them. It's your genes that are giving them the once-over, looking for characteristics that indicate they are good for breeding. But FUCK your genetics. You're the one who has to live with whatever sexy asshole you bring home who has nothing in common with your personality or interests. Online, however, you can meet someone's mind first. Their personality, interests, intelligence and opinions are front and center. If this were 10,000 BC, maybe it'd be more important to choose a mate based on their benefit to the species' survival. But right now, in the 21st fucking century, your happiness with your partner matters more. Find someone who's just as homely and abnormal as you, who loves you for who you are, just like you love them for who they are.
Pop culture feeds people the idea that the secret to desirability is looks. Paint yourself like a sexy person and you'll be one. Wear the costume of a sexy person and you'll become one. Do the magic dance and it will make the rains come. It's voodoo bullshit. It's backwards. The number one thing you can do to improve your desirability is to be the kind of person that someone would want to be with. Is that so hard to understand? Do you also think that putting on a space helmet will make NASA come and hire you to be an astronaut!?
The other day on YouTube, I saw a video with a woman who, by the standards of pop culture, is inarguably ugly. She would never be the leading role in a movie or a commercial. She was too fat, she had a pug nose and her facial features were incorrectly proportioned.
But hot damn, could she present a concise, well-reasoned argument!
I could see myself loving a woman like this. And the awesome thing is, plenty of people in the comments were complimenting her too. Her intelligence made her physical imperfections matter less.
That's the Big Damn Secret that pop culture almost never understands. The one that, even when they try to present it as a heartwarming moral, they always fuck it up by prioritizing physical beauty anyway.
A beautiful body can only compensate for an ugly mind temporarily.
But a beautiful mind will damn near always compensate for an ugly body.
That is, unless you're a shallow masochist. Your choice.