I thought I would have a lot to say today, so I thought I better take some outfit photos. After been trying a couple of photo locations and about 100 photos later I finally got a couple that I thought was blog worthy.
The last days I have been finishing up a discussion of a manuscript I am writing about older person ability to accept their bodily appearance. Although that I don’t want to go into the details about my own findings before it is accepted for publication, and for those that know anything about academia you know that it might take a while (read month or even years), however, I can discuss the things that have been shown and written by others. As my regular readers know, I am an ageing researcher, but given that body satisfaction has not been study very much among elderly, I have been doing a lot of reading about what is known from adolescents and middle-aged persons, and overall this applies for all independent of age. Before I go into detail, I will warn those of you that are looking for a cheerful post and maybe recommend you to scroll down and see where I bought my clothes (if that interest you) or go and make yourself a cup of tea and come back another day.
Study after study shows that the majority of women, but also men, are highly dissatisfied with their bodies. Some researchers have even referred to body dissatisfaction as a normative discontent. Body dissatisfaction is strongly related to self-esteem, psychological difficulties such as depression and anxiety, and unhealthy dieting and eating disorders. One of the things that have affected me the most is that several studies show that body dissatisfaction predicts depression. In other words, the association between body dissatisfaction and depression do not only stem from reasons such as that depressive persons tend to see themselves and their bodies from a negative point of view (although that is true too), but that how we view our bodies can affect our psychological well-being for many years a head. And of course, persons that were overweight and especially those being obese experienced body dissatisfaction to a higher degree than those being slimmer.
I suppose that most of us would put a huge blame on the media and fashion industry for the pressure to be beautiful and thin. Although I think that media and the fashion industry plays an important role I think that is a too easy explanation. There is something in the human nature that makes us favorite and like people who are beautiful. When I took a psychology course in non-verbal behaviors we learned that we like people with bigger eyes and rounder faces as they reminds us about children, and the fact that most people like children and think they are cute is an adaptive behavior for survival. I know that some readers will now object and claim that beauty ideal changes, and few models today all kind of different shapes of their faces, and more often oval-shaped than round (but maybe most have pretty big eyes?). I agree, but independent of what we consider to be beautiful in different time periods, I think our behavior to give more attention and appreciation to those that are considered to be beautiful remains stable across time.
The list of examples of that beautiful people have advantages in the society range from selection of a mate, jobs, and to shorter penalties. It also seem to start very early in life, and I suppose that most would agree that the most popular boys and girls in school often were the most good-looking ones, even before puberty, and even more so in puberty. A former colleague of mine once claimed that if she had stayed in the small village she came from, she did know how she would have had to marry based on her beauty or non-beauty. A boy who was on the same rating as herself. This was of course not explicitly stated, but something she implicitly understood, and when she became a sociologist could put words on. My point is that there is something that makes us favor those that are considered to be beautiful beyond the message we get from the fashion and beauty industry, something that is inherited in the human nature, and that makes us rank people differently based on appearance. I know I might be provocative, but most of the times this is not done deliberately. However, if you do disagree with me let me ask you if you would hit on a man or woman who you and everyone else consider to be ten times as beautiful as your self, and if you do have the courage, do you actually think you will have a chance? If you do (or have done and been successful) I do congratulate you, but most people do marry a person that is on about the same beauty level (if that can be measured) and a person that has about the same body mass index (which can be measured and objectively evaluated).
Now to another aspect that has fascinated me the last days. To a high degree we do accept that beautiful people have advantages and accept that there is a hierarchy based on beauty. When it come to discrimination of ethnical groups, gender, and even old person there is words (racism, sexism and ageism) to describe the discrimination based on group belonging, and there is laws and regulations, at least in some parts of the world. Of course there is still terrible much to be done when it come to the mentioned -isms but there is at least a public awareness, and to acknowledge that there is a problem is an important step. However, there is no word such as “beautism”, and the fact that beautiful person have advantages in life is seldom discussed. Hence, advantages based on beauty seem to a high extent to be ignored. My point is not that we need to put this on the political agenda, but it rather something has stroke me, and that I think would be interesting to get your opinion about. For example, do you think that “beautism” is seldom discussed because it affects women to a higher degree than men?
I might be wrong, but I think the reasons that we all want to beautiful is not that we want to be beautiful per se, but based on the implicit assumption that if we are considered to be beautiful we will get more attention, appreciation, and love from other persons.
I usually don’t write about very personal things here on the blog and usually don’t bring up all the things I am dissatisfied with on my own body and looks. I will not go into details today either, but if you read between the lines that body dissatisfaction is something that has affected my life, at least periodically, you have read correctly. Being a style blogger posting pictures of myself does not mean that I am immune against body (and appearance) dissatisfaction. Sometimes it might actually be the opposite. For example, being fairly satisfied with a couple of photos out of hundreds does not boost my self-esteem or compare my stats to how many followers some long, slim and more beautiful bloggers with thick long hair have. But most of the days my blog helps me feel beautiful and satisfied with my body, partly thanks to all the lovely comments and friends I have made here at the internet. My blogging definitely also makes me want to put in some extra effort into my appearance, because I might get time to take some outfit photos during the day, and then I don’t want to wear a sloppy outfit.
I don’t know if it is very inappropriate to write this and I might offend someone when I do, but I think most bloggers, including me, do blog for the little extra attention and appreciation we might get. And there is nothing wrong with it – it is very human! I don’t write this as plead that you should tell me how beautiful I am or how well I dress, although I love when you do. But if you do agree with what I have said I would like to encourage you to give appreciation to people who might not get it all the time. Finally, I think it is important to emphasize that I don’t say that we should really on appreciation from others, I do believe that we should strive to find an inner self-esteem, but until we find that self-esteem (which also might fluctuate over time) it does not hurt to get a little help from others. Thank you for reading!
I am linking up to Visible Monday!
Top – Anthropologie; Cardigan – Saint Tropez; Jeans – Ann Taylor Loft; Boots – Ecco; Statement necklace – Thrifted