As Susan Boyle now part of the zeitgeist, I wanted to share two of my most excellent readers' opinions on the phenomenon and the larger issue of women and beauty.
I have been thinking a lot about Susan Boyle, as she has been so pervasively in the news. Maybe it is the cynic in me these days about the fact that we never see aging anywhere anymore. The photo-shopping in women's magazines is absolutely insane at this point; I remember reading my mother's magazines when I was younger and women had expressions on their faces, fine lines, etc. They showed their AGE. I don't see how these images don't affect even the most confident woman or girl who has been constantly reminded by her mother of how beautiful she is.
I think Susan Boyle shocked many people because it made them remember that people can be talented and beautiful and successful without being beautiful on the outside, according to our society's currently skewed standards. It has become an unfortunate reality, particularly for women today, that women who are attractive tend to have more opportunities in life (even if they aren't so talented). They are simply treated differently, as was evidenced by Simon Cowles' face when she walked out on stage. Is it fair? Of course not.
I am young, work in a professional environment, and I see this every day. I've been lucky to have relatively good genes (I'm no Hollywood starlet), but I have witnessed this sort of dynamic, not only between men and women, but among women as well.
To me, Susan Boyle shattered that ceiling in our ingrained consciences in a way, and was a reality check of sorts. I appreciated her for being true to herself and just going for her dreams. I don't think many women in this country would have had the courage to do that, unfortunately.
I should make it clear that I don't mean to say that I think Ms. Boyle is unattractive, just by LA's / mainstream American media's standards, perhaps.
I find honesty, kindness and personality more important attributes in a person, and physical "imperfections" as something special that should be embraced. Unfortunately, I sometimes don't feel as though this opinion falls within the majority when reality sets in. I blame the media for some of this because the images we see become ingrained in our minds. It would be nice, for instance, if women's magazines disclosed image retouching, because most of simply cannot and do not (naturally) look like these women.
Not sure if you saw this, but it was nice to see that France is addressing the issue.
And secondly, Wzzy:
This broke my heart a little - from the end of a CNN.com story today:
"She said she has no plans to get a makeover or alter her wardrobe -- "Why should I? Why should I change?" -- but did predict one big lifestyle change.
"I won't be lonely," she said. "I certainly won't be lonely anymore.""I hope the world continues to be kind to her. And to us all.
Also - not that these women weren't at the front of the good-looking DNA line anyway - but the new issue of French Elle apparently has eight cover photos, all of actresses with no makeup, photoshoping, or retouching. Not headhsots, mind you, but daring and timely nonetheless.
Here's a story about it, which includes the cover photos of Monica Bellucci, Sophie Marceau and Eva Herzigova.