Might I be permitted to comment on what is probably a controversial subject?
As a Sociology grad student, I studied what I then called “the beauty trap.”
The beauty trap is an engineered world view that represents women as being basically valuable and worthwhile if they’re beautiful and subject to being ignored if they’re not and men as constantly lusting after beautiful women.
Underneath the beauty trap, is the view that men are walking gonads and women available sex objects (OK, toys).
This whole way of being is fuelled by the corporate media and big business. It keeps us occupied and not seeing that our standard of living is generally and rapidly declining and that women are getting systematically abused, excluded, short-changed.
Also underneath this worldview is the view that the ultimate good and pleasure is orgasm (usually a man’s) rather than love.
We seem to have fallen into a pattern where a woman invites and a man responds. Correct me if I’m wrong.
The beauty trap is justified on Darwinist grounds that only the beautiful = desirable get to pass on their genes. The counterpart for men emphasizes the equally-Darwinist qualities of strength and the ability to feed, clothe and house the young ones and the wife.
It carries with it an implicit nod to the existing gender roles and stereotypes such as stay-at-home women with aprons, cooking in the kitchen, doing the laundry, cleaning house and tending babies and men working at an office 40 hours a week, always aiming to get ahead, stay ahead of the Joneses, etc. Status-consciousness introduced competition into the most basic of personal relationships.
My friend’s decision removes her from the beauty carousel, in a manner of speaking. She’s genuinely a beautiful woman but that has nothing to do with the makeup she wears or the outfit she chooses.
In my view, there are two levels on which a man or a woman responds to the other. I can only speak for the man.
The man responds to a woman on a sexual and a love level.
Dressing to kill, dressing to the nines, wearing killer outfits with a killer “do” appeals to the man’s sexual appetites, not like many men protest (until they cross the line and get caught), but these appeals and responses are superficial and unsatisfying unless they’re embedded in love as well.
I’m a survivor of the mid-Seventies “Free Love” generation and, on the one hand, I can tell you that I’ve never been involved with a more stultifying, superficial, ultimately unsatisfying experience than all the sexuality we engaged in, which had nothing to do with love.
I finally felt like wretching from the fundamentally-unsatisfying nature of the sleeping around we all were doing. And I lost my marriage to boot to the same malaise we created.
On the other hand, I can also say that sexuality, for me, when I’m head over heels in love with a person is a sublime experience.
For me, the love connection between me and another is ever so much deeper than the kind of sexual charge that goes with engaging with a woman who’s “all done up.”
Some people prefer natural foods, living on a farm, and living in other natural ways. I personally prefer the natural in dress, look, manner, and speech.
When a woman opts for the natural path – wearing what she wishes, dispensing with whatever cosmetics she wishes (not those she doesn’t wish to dispense with), letting go of image management, strategizing and all that goes with it – I find myself relating to her not from a sexual level but from a heart or love level.
What I value in the natural way of being is the authenticity that’s allowed to shine through, the transparency, the self-revelation.
A relationship without self-revelation, a close-minded relationship, a conditioned response to relationship is like a car spinning its wheels. We’re not going anywhere. We’re just remaining in one place and on the surface.
Coming back to my friend’s resolution, the corollary of that move is that, if a man or a woman switches from appealing to sex by all our dressing up, makeup and mannerisms to appealing to love by being natural, one invites involvement with a different kind of person. Those interested in sexual pleasure may look elsewhere. Hallelujah. Those interested in authenticity and transparency may draw near.
The decision to retreat from using clothes and cosmetic to project an image, to appear before another not as we are but as we’re not (basic to makeup and to the beauty trap) is a bold decision in my books.
It may bring the first ones who venture out into those waters ridicule and even ostracism in some circles. The last time it was tried, in the feminist movement of the Sixties and Seventies, the women involved were called bra-burners and unsexed women (not sure what that means. Sounds bad though).
Then the Recession of 1982 wiped out the growth movement. As one commentator said: “Stop finding yourself, pal. It’s time to get back to work — if you still have a job, that is.” (1)
Everybody climbed back into suits as companies merged, technology began to swallow jobs, jobs were exported, etc. No one wanted to be without a job when the music stopped.
The new economy will have none of these Darwinist emphases. And perhaps the beauty trap will die a natural death. I simply feel a desire to give it a not-so-polite push.
We’ll never stop engaging in relationship, if only with our twin flames. Everyone responds to a felt need to belong. Many if not most people just want someone to love. There are huge gains to be made from relationship in terms of knowing another and thereby knowing one’s self. And acquiring Self-knowledge is the purpose of life.
Anything that skews our relationships, I think, must and will go. Buying into gender stereotypes, sexual appeals, and conditioned responses skew relationships. If you’d permit me to say it, it’s time for them to go.
(1) David Olive, “The New Hard Line,” Report on Business Magazine, October, 1991, 15.