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Random Thoughts

Observations on Feminine Beauty

Increasingly, as I look at the models and actresses who are meant to shape our desires around their features and bodily forms through various media, I find myself without any desire. If beauty is a culturally constructed thing, a membership of matching desires which are perpetrated and enforced by the media, it seems that the effect is not working on me and I am finding myself left to salvage what I can from the past. My own ideas of beauty (in terms of the West) are exemplified in the features of Elizabeth Hurley, or, the exception from the general case, the more contemporary Megan Fox. These two women, both brunette, with blue eyes (like myself), do they represent a type to which I am drawn, or, narcissistically (and fantastically), do I see my own image reflected in them as an ideal? Besides the superficial similarities, is there something essentially the same in their bone structure and the way their faces are shaped?


I once watched a programme which argued that there was a ‘mask of beauty’ which certain features conformed to. Elizabeth Hurley and Tom Cruise were featured as having the typical cast of visage which the mask of beauty was said to represent.


As I look over the lists of beautiful women compiled by those in the media, I am always surprised to see what others find beautiful. Each of us seems to be a beauty tyrant (were the lists and the rankings, the bureaucratization of beauty always in existence? Helen was always supposed to be the most beautiful woman in the world, and in the myth, Paris was even forced to rank the goddesses in terms of their beauty) – our ideal of beauty is the most beautiful to us. And yet, the words of one of my professors always returns to me. He said that beauty is not even our own construction. It is not in the eye of the beholder, but in the eyes of the subject. At the time, I was reading psychological studies that suggested beauty was cross-cultural, in that a series of photographs was always ranked in the same way across different cultures in terms of beauty. I wonder what my ideal of Western feminine beauty says about me, and how my preferences in the West relate to my preferences in the East and Africa, in the features of Indian women and Chinese and Japanese women and black women…



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