I wonder if many of the folks taking up these anti-beauty attitudes have had girl children?
It has been my observation that bringing up one girl and one boy teaches a hell of a lot about the realities of sex and sexual development in children. I really don’t care what theoreticians might or might not claim to the contrary, it was very apparent from the very earliest moments that, beyond the obvious physique, boy and girl children are different animals. Little girls grow up wanting to be little girls playing at being their mamas; from raiding the shoe rack to playing with makeup, it’s in the genes, as is almost everything else in life, including art whether with brush, pencil, clay or camera. It has bugger all to do with tv and advertising. Our kids saw hardly any tv at all. Sure, Vogue, ‘Bazaar, Nova, Playboy were in the house, just lying about, but nobody other than myself and sometimes my wife gave a damn or looked at them. Wait! My mother-in-law used to be interested; she’d guess – very accurately – which of the pictures in Playboy would be the ones I liked.
The idea of looking ‘pretty’ comes from within. Some have the luck to grow into beautiful people and others lose their early charm and go the other way. Why is it such a popular idea here to imagine that people are so pathetic that their only ambition in life is to be someone else out of the movies or the tv screen? I find it amazing to read that there is something wrong with women (or men) wanting to look as good as they can look; if makeup, clothes etc, help people feel that they have made the most of themselves, then good for them! Anyway, I don’t know about the States, but during the war there were very few tv sets in the UK and no channels running that I’m aware of, at least I never saw any. And commercial tv and its ads didn’t happen in the UK until much later during the 50s at the earliest. So, from where did the people of the war years and all the centuries prior to that get their crazy ideas of wanting to look good? The moon? The sun? No, it was always there as part of civilization. Ask the Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans and all the rest of them which channels they watched, which commercials ruined their lives, which magazines corrupted their youth with dreams of beauty... it’s just being human. If you can’t cut it, then too bad, but don’t try to ruin it for those who can get something out of it.
There’s all this bitching about the evil empires of advertising, clothing and the cosmetic industries and the money they make (sometimes – they can, and also some do, go bust); these industries give us, photographers, out best jobs; they provide production and selling work for millions and the money they make filters through into the world at large. Are there still people here who believe that Mr Big or whatever takes it all into his arms and buries it in some vault somewhere? No, it gets spent, invested and generally spread around to the greater good. Most rich folks I’ve met don’t sit on their money, they invest it. (One such said to me: money in the bank’s a stinking fish.) And that investment means work for somebody else. To be selfish about it: I prefer to see folks looking good, and I like them to smell good, too.
You know what I think? I think that taking a negative stance about women looking good, their trying to look good, is about as misogynistic as attitudes can get, but, perversely, it comes disguised as love for women.