Monday, December 10, 2007

Gender Disrespect, or Low Self Esteem?

Why are so many people dis-satisfied with who they are?

After numerous false starts to this blog post, I open with the above question: is it true self dis-satisfaction, or is it reactionary immediacy that brings people to spend huge amounts of money, and risk unhealthy side effects by changing their looks?

With sarcasm and humor I approached this topic because as a woman of middle years I too find that I spend more time being concerned with this wrinkle or that streak of gray in my hair. I often justify this by saying I have lived with this face and hair for 55+ years and I am taking observant steps at retaining the looks that I have appreciated all of my life. Yet is are my small vanities the same as augmentation or full plastic surgery? Is taking care of what you have the first steps to altering who you are? I personally don't think so - I think there is a line to be drawn between keeping up your appearance and altering it because you can not stand to live in your body.

Is it disrespect for gender that rushes women to breast enhancement? Is it disrespect that makes people think that they must look one way or another? I recently watched a program about employment opportunities in China. The program followed one young professional woman who believed that she had reached the Chinese equivalent of the glass ceiling in her career. The reasons had nothing to do with her gender, they had to do with her appearance. The woman profiled believed that the competition in the work place was so fierce, in order to get ahead in her field, she would need to have exceptional looks. In Chinese white collar hierarchy, that translates to "a more Western look". The woman in the program under went plastic surgery to improve her skin, give her eye folds more of a westerners look. She also had extensive cosmetic surgery done to her mouth, so her 'bite' would not be so prominent.

The problems of dis-satisfaction with who we are are not confined to the United States. Plastic surgery and body enhancement is a bigger business in Asia than in the USA or Europe. How did the Chinese so quickly come to the same spot as American woman have? Is it pursuit of money that makes people desperate to conform to whatever the populist concepts of 'beauty'?

Does this have anything to do with beauty at all?

No one, especially when young, is perfectly happy with how they look. People with curly hair pay to straighten it. People with straight hair pay to curl it. People with too little hair seek to thicken it, those with lots of hair seek to reduce it.
And no one likes their body when it first goes into bloom. However, many of us grow to appreciate who we are, we like our small physical idiosyncrasies, we embrace our individuality. Once we develop our own sense of style, we become more ourselves.
We do not understand how so many people can be searching for the perfection that is truly, nonexistent.

It is difficult to ask of Americans, who have been pampered for decades from whence comes this dis-satisfaction when China, the land of equality for all comrades has fallen prey to the same problems. If China was not able to instill self worth in it's citizenry, how can it be expected of 'gotta have it now' Americans?


J Scott Pauli said...

This is a poignant article for me at the moment. I'm pretty surprised that white collar China is into western looks too. Maybe I shouldn't be.

Misses youz. Lots going on here.


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