From our recent “What Would You Guest Post About?” thread, came this gem from JennyK/Benevolent Dictatrix: I’ve been thinking lately that I would like to write a Cross-Referenced Compendium of Patriarchal Beauty Standards for Women. From pedicured toes, to extension-filled hair, to a bleached anus, it seems like we have reached a point where there is no cell in a woman’s body that doesn’t have a certain way it should be or look. (Even our insides. Have you seen those “Beautify your insides” commercials for fiber supplements?) I think rounding up all the rules would serve to highlight how ridiculous and onerous the rules really are.
Ms M replied: I second JennyK’s suggestion…. I think listing ALL the expectations for female appearance would be really REALY eye opening.
Join JennyK, Mackey, Ms. M and me for a roundtable discussion, as we imagine the Fembot of the Patriarchy’s wet dreams with a meticulously compiled listicle of the many, many, MANY ridiculous requirements of “beauty.”
BeckySharper: So let’s built our imaginary, Patriarchy-approved lady, starting from the head and working down to the toes!
We should all have thick, shiny hair. Straight is preferable. Maybe because straight hair is the most submissive kind? And if you can’t grow it, you can have it glued or sewed onto your head!
MsM: Hair should not show gray, and if one is of the age to have grays, and should be dyed in an expensive way to look “natural” (ie, so it doesn’t look like a box from the store). Women should not admit they have dyed their hair.
Mackey: Not only should hair be thick and shiny, but should also be blonde (and there’s dye for that too).
JennyK: Face shape should be round with prominent apples of the cheeks (can be achieved with implants if necessary).
Nose should be slender without a bump, tip should be small and not hooked.
Eyebrows should be high, arched and groomed.
BeckySharper: Eyelashes must be long and dark and the eyes big and round, even if you’re Asian.
And no glasses, of course. The only time glasses are permitted is if you don’t actually need them and can whip them off as part of a sexy librarian fantasy.
Lips must be full, but not “big”, with absolutely no hair on the upper lip.
JennyK: No hair on chin, cheeks or neck, at all! Chin should not protrude. No double chins!
Mackey: No chin dimples!
BeckySharper: Teeth must be white and perfectly straight, even if that means you have to knock out all your real teeth or file them down to points and have blue-white veneers stuck on them.
Neck must be long and swan-like, lest we look like Miss J Alexander’s “No-Neck Monsta!”
JennyK: Collar bones should be visible and shoulders should not be too broad or muscular.
Arms should be slender, taut, hairless, and free of stretchmarks
BeckySharper: No “man-hands”–they must be soft and with perfectly tapered fingers and manicured nails.
JennyK: Breasts should be large and spherical with small, pink nipples and situated high on the torso
Mackey: Breasts need to be big enough, but not too big (unless you are a porn star).
MsM: Areoles must be large but not too large, and pink. Nipples must protrude but not too much (protruding nipples are “slutty”).
JennyK: Belly should be flat or concave.
BeckyShaper: And only “innie” navels are acceptable.
JennyK: Pubis should not be too rounded (see “FUPA“) and hairless.
BeckySharper: No dangly labia! Get ‘em snipped if they are!
JennyK: Labia should be bright pink (there is dye for that!)
MsM: No stretch marks, even if you have been pregnant.
BeckySharper: Even if you’re pregnant, only compact little baby bumps are allowed. The minute the baby is out, your abdomen must immediately return to taut and toned. And for Maude’s sake, have a C-section so your vagina doesn’t get all loosey-goosey from giving birth–get your ob-gyn to give you a bikini-friendly incision.
JennyK: But don’t think you can slack off and start looking all ugly during the actual labor and delivery of your child. These ladies don’t.
BeckySharper: Thighs and ass should be rounded, firm and gravity-defying. But not too big! Or too muscular!
MsM: Knees need a space between them! (no knock-knees).
JennyK: Ankles should be markedly slimmer than calves.
BeckySharper: Absolutely no hammer toes, bunions or calluses on the feet, despite their being jammed into patriarchially-approved, foot-deforming high heels. Get surgery if you have to.
And make sure those toenails are polished!
JennyK: Not to mention, feet should be no bigger than size 7.
Ms.M: Right, because women should be at least 5′ 4″, and no taller than 5′ 7″. Anything other than that is “too short” or “too tall”.
Mackey: Skin should be tan, but not so tan as to appear “dark skinned”. It should be the same colour and hue on the entirity of the body (no lighter patches! where the sun doesn’t see your skin) Those girls with the very light porcelain skin are in the minority, and only a handful can pull that look off, so you’re better off going to the tanning salon and/or getting a spray-on tan.
Sick to death of this list yet? Yeah, us too. Here’s the final word:
MsM: The biggest one is: women should be free of any physical difference: skin disorders, amputee, wheelchair user, impaired vision, speech impediment, or anything which might take away from a “healthy” appearance. Women who may “pass” on some of the above will always fail if they have a physical difference.
Did we miss anything? Feel free to add to the list. And for a discussion of the monetary cost of all these ridiculous requirements, check out PhDork’s series of posts “The Cost of Beauty.“