Sunday, November 22, 2009

Suffer for Beauty

A community museum somewhere in the outskirts of the local area
recently mounted an exhibition called "Suffer for Beauty."

I didn't go see it
because it just didn't fit into my schedule, 
but it got me thinking about the ways
that I have suffered 
in the quest forbeauty
on the outside,
the place that seems to be of utmost importance
in the American scheme of values.
Maybe where you live, too.

There are the obvious things, of course,
like cramming my feet into high heels
and teetering around town
with feet that are screaming 
and back that's trying to adjust its alignment
and ankles threatening to twist
just to stop the madness.

I've also had abdominoplasty,
a "tummy tuck",
to pull my muscles back into alignment
and cut out excessive skin and stretch
what's left back together
after repeated C-sections left my abdominal muscles a little lax.
Hurt like hell (more than the C-sections)
and the compression garments I had to wear
for about three weeks afterwards weren't exactly glam,
but I have to admit, 
the post-recovery results made me feel less self-conscious
about the little pouchy place
that no amount of dieting or "core work" had eradicated.

I haven't had botox injections,
but I have had a cool laser treatment that's supposed to
stimulate collagen production
and let me tell you,
it's not as "cool" as advertised
(though I thought my skin looked great afterward).

Who among us hasn't poked the mascara wand
into her eye by accident?
Or am I just incredibly clumsy?

I never laced myself into a bustier or corset so tight
 I had a 19 inch waist like Scarlett O'Hara,
but I have laid on the bed to zip my denim jeans
after they shrink in the dryer
and I wouldn't necessarily count that as suffering
but I have accidentally zipped my skin
in the process
and that definitely counts.

I've bought and used the little machine
from Suzanne Somers that she swears by
to keep her face firm.
The electrical current's not too strong,
so I'm not sure it counts as suffering
except that I let one of my friends try it
and she doesn't have my pain tolerance
and there were a lot of "ow"s 
before she managed to shut it off.

I haven't had my face lifted or my eyes done,
but if I can afford it and my vision is compromised
by the sagging or I'm totally disgusted
by living with jowls, I wouldn't rule it out. 

 Right now I am pretty satisfied with how I look.
No, that's a lie.
Unless I'm a size six or smaller
and so thin my boobs barely fill out a B cup,
so thin that everything I try on looks fabulous,
I'll always be dissatified with my weight.
And it's been a long time
since I was a 6. 

But I've got great skin
and my eyes glisten with intelligence
and excitement for life,
so I guess that's more important in the long run
than the size of my panties.


What things have you done
or are willing to do
that amount to
suffering for beauty?



Bill Stankus said...

I admire your honesty but I've never understood the quest for ideal and superficial beauty, unless there's medical reasons for it, of course.

Considering the women I've known I can't say I know anyone who has done more than use lipstick, perfume and other simple make-ups.

I guess it's all a matter of social circles and expectations ... and, perhaps, knowing one's self.

deb did it said...

well, Meri....from where I sit and visit here with you....YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL in very sense of the words. I have always been tiny, firm and buff....but age 50 has proved to turn everything squishy and curvy. I am learning to embrace the belly curve, droopy neck skin and baggy eyes. So be it. I am what I am, and that's all that I am.

beth said...

right now I'm still embracing what mother nature gave me...
but, there will be a day, when I throw my hands up and stop fighting her and say uncle....I think :)

bangs work for me, so no botox yet...but I can't say never....

I always smell good...maybe all we really need is perfume and lipstick like bill there's a thought !

Meri said...

You'd be amazed what women do for beauty that they never talk about. My best friends knew about the tummy tuck, for example, but none of my new friends are aware I had one in the past (well I guess they are now). The thing with women and beauty is that we're not totally opposed to artifice, but we want to convey the impression that it's effortless and totally natural.
Go figure.

Deb: I've seen your photos on the blog and if that's squishy and curvy, then bravo! And the neck skin's a dead giveaway, isn't it?

Beth: You nailed it with smelling good. My favorite fragrances include Vera Wang, Hanae Mori, and St. John right now. What are yours?

julochka said...

i often think about how if i'd stayed married to my starter husband, i'd definitely have had plastic surgery (probably a whole menu full) of it done by now. i'm really grateful that i'm not that person in that place anymore. i feel much more me.

suzanne said...

ok, the boots SAID size 8 but felt like a size smaller...but they were purchased on sale - so ask me if i bothered returning? and if i still wear them...what am i thinking??? ummmm, they ARE cute!

Meri said...

Julie: Sometimes we do things by instinct that end up saving us.

Suzanne: Can't you find cute that fits? I've given up heels. I'm now committed to comfort in footwear. I've found cute little ballet flats and other cute little shoes that make my feet sing happy songs. Now all I need is to find a stylish pair of boots that feel just as comfy.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

I'm not much into suffering - at least not for beauty. there's enough suffering that is part of life that isn't a choice.

I never wore high heels, my rule for shoes is they must be comfortable although in h.s. I did try the platform look for a couple years, but started getting nosebleeds from being so high up. no seriously, I liked the height but couldn't learn to walk in them without feeling like I was going to fall over. closest I've come to suffering for beauty is plucking my eyebrows, which unfortunately I started when I was around 14 - I tried to let them go natural when I was around 28, but after 14 years of plucking, the attempt was ill-fated.

it is very interesting to see how women's lives are shaped and reshaped by society's ever-changing notions of female beauty. quite curious that men don't have such a legacy of suffering to achieve male beauty - ah, the advantages of male privilege and patriarchy

Relyn said...

Oh, what a thought-provoking, honest post. I'll have to think and get back to you.