Imperfection is Beauty or Nice try Veet, Let’s See Some Real Diversity!

In spite of the significant percentage of women’s magazines that is devoted blatant sexism written, photographed and designed for women by women, I read a lot of them.  Years of reading these has made me almost completely immune to the fact that having any excess weight is thought to be on par with wearing sweat pants to the office or wearing dayglo pants in terms of fashion crimes.  But the skinny-loving, fat-shaming rhetoric of the twenty-first century hasn’t gotten to me completely, and this advertisement caught my eye and set me off.  (I found my copy of the ad in this Augusts’ edition of Elle Canada, but I’m sure it’s been placed in many other magazines as well).Image
Let’s just say one thing: I think skinny women are beautiful.  I think women with big bums are beautiful.  I think African women, Asian women, white women, Indian women, Native American women, South American women, and women with all the body types that accompany these backgrounds are beautiful.  I don’t think there’s such a thing as a woman with an ugly body, and I have no problem with the stick thin models that populate the glossy pages of magazines.  What I take issue with is that they’re the only women on those pages.  Even then, no serious complaints; I understand that we’re not likely to see a mainstream shift from this attitude until skinny stops selling- which it probably won’t.  When it becomes a serious issue, in my mind, is when someone tries to pass off this selective, perfected, air-brushed image of women as diverse.

This advertisement in no way reflects diversity.  Sure, there are legs that differ in colour, but none that differ in shape.  The legs are all perfectly symmetrical, the curves parallel.  There has been some serious photo editing done here.  No woman has legs that perfect, and none have legs that similar to each others’.  Furthermore, these legs don’t differ in size, or apparently, age.  I can pretty much guarantee that none of the legs in this picture belong to a woman over the age of thirty-five.  So why does Veet even bother to try to cultivate some sense of diversity?  For financial reasons, mostly, after all they do need to somehow underscore their claim that “Legs everywhere are convinced,” but some of it, I’m sure, is legal.  If they’d chosen to show that many legs without some of them being non-Caucasian, someone would surely have taken offense.  Well, I’m writing this to say that I take offense too.  I’m tired of seeing women devalued for aesthetic reasons- sure, this incredibly-symmetrical advertisement looks great, but it also looks fake.  Women are beautiful even when they are old and imperfect, if their legs are long or if they’re stubby, they’re gorgeous even with scars and sometimes because of them.  Heck, women are beautiful even when they don’t shave and they’re really beautiful when they actually have pores.  One of the most undeniably beautiful thing about women is that they are real.  It’s time that we started calling companies out on selling their products by talking about diversity when the pictures they accompany their rhetoric with don’t reflect it.  I’m not asking them to change their advertisements, I’m asking them to start telling the truth.

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About Helen (etaunknown)

An undergrad at the University of British Columbia, studying Anthropology and all the kinds of history they didn't teach me in school (concentrations in Indigenous and Environmental History(s)), my blogs are mainly places where I talk about academia, travel, and writing. I've been blogging in one form or another for the last 7 years, from angsty teenage poetry (no, I won't link you to that particular blog) to thoughts on religion, books, music and academia. I've been writing for as long as I can remember, and while I use my two main wordpress blogs as places to post a lot of my writing, I'm also busily at work on a novel (or three), some longer narrative essays, some short stories and as ever, some poetry. If you want to know more, please email me at etaunknownwrites@gmail.com
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3 Responses to Imperfection is Beauty or Nice try Veet, Let’s See Some Real Diversity!

  1. JS says:

    Beauty is something that is relative to the times; it changes depending on the societal views of the world-what the main stream society believes to be perfection. For instance, the determination of human spirit has always been pictured as an object of beauty-often it is even embellished to divinity in numerous literature. Then it is only logical that the same thought can be applied to physical appearances as well. Lets not compare physical beauty with divine beings, but instead just compare it with the flawless symmetry that nature cannot easily produce. Though the comparison is still unrealistic, but this pursuit of perfection is still only a small step away from reality. Hence you end up staring on the front page of a beauty magazine, and ponder at why physical beauty is portrayed to be so unreal. The truth is that beauty is perfection- it is a point that people in general admire but can never reach; it is meant to admired but not to be obtained. It is indeed unrealistic, but nevertheless it is still undeniably beauty. Perhaps it is only called by such name because so few people can even obtain a small amount of it.

  2. See, I don’t know if I’d agree. I’d argue that what you’ve discribed is far too petty and meaningless to be beauty. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, it’s based upon opinion, but I feel sad for the few beholders who hold your opinion of beauty. Beauty in my mind is serendipity. Small things in the commonplace that light up the world just a little bit more. The laugh of a child is beautiful. The way the sun falls on water or the waves in a woman’s hair- that’s beauty. Beauty and perfection are two completely separate things. Perfection, in my mind, is the opposite of what beauty is. Beauty isn’t something that one needs to obtain or achieve, it simply is. Perfection is a goal, but beauty is an accident. Beauty is beautiful because it catches us off guard. It’s unexpected, unplanned and it pops up everywhere. Sure it isn’t attainable, but why would you want to obtain it? Beauty isn’t something owned or kept, it’s something found for a moment and delighted in, and then it passes on, that other people might appreciate it also. That’s one of my concerns with this article. It gives the message that beauty is a style, a form, an ideal. I disagree cordially, but wholeheartedly.

    • JS says:

      If beauty is something that is to be valued, then it must contain the admirable portion of reality that is rare; what is rare is valued, and what is not rare then has no value. We do not place value in toilets, but if an artist presents it in an unique way, that toilet might be worth millions.
      If the idea of scarcity applies to the world, then beauty by all means is bound by that idea as well. If indeed beauty is just normality, then we can definitely state that we are all beautiful. Since we are all beautiful then there is no comparison. Since there are no reference point for beauty, then we can all be pretty ugly.
      Though I personal view of beauty should not play an important role of this debate, but I believe beauty is something that is not obtainable or if it is, then it is easily lost; what is easy to gain and to keep holds no value. Beauty is to the eye of the beholder; just as rarity is to the eye of the beholder. What is rare for one to gain may be garbage to another.

      Why do we trade? Why we barter? Why does a service or product has a money tag to them? Why does some customer find the tag cheap while others find it expensive? Why do we have ratings for attractiveness? Why do we have beauty contests? Why can the winners of beauty contests capitalize on their beauty? Why do people find certain physical traits more attractive than others?

      The questions we ask for beauty are the same as the ones we ask about rarity. A coincidence? Is beauty rare? or perhaps there are so many “unique” things that being common is already being unique?

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