Monday, February 8, 2010

Is beauty different from culture to culture?

So the media is trying to give us a picture of what a beautiful woman looks like - big breasts, thin everything else.  And they seem very clear about what makes a person ugly - anything else.  And we've conversed about what YOU think makes a woman beautiful - her smile, inner radiance, sensing that she likes you - and what you think makes her ugly - ugly is as ugly does.

Now I'm curious to explore the question of beauty and other cultures.  Do other cultures have the same ideals of beauty as our ad agencies try to sell to us?  Or are they more aligned with the responses I got that beauty and ugliness are inner things, not outward? 

To get these pictures I googled, for example, Asian women.  Mostly the results look like they came off of porn sites or sites telling men how to get pretty asian wives.  Most of the pictures overall were of stereotypical women in stereotypical poses, just like in the US.  Authenticity doesn't seem to go very far.  Perhaps if I googled in other languages that would make a difference.

What do you think? Do you find them beautiful? Or are they too different to be beautiful? What is your initial response? And if you allow yourself to look more closely? If you try to let yourself into their lives and imagine who they are? What then?

Russian solider

African women

Asian women from a sife-searching site

Russian chess player

African women from a religious site about prayer

French girl from a fashion site

Indian woman

Asian body building champion - this one is particularly painful for me to look at!  I cannot begin to imagine having such defined muscles.  Body building is a culture I don't understand at all!

German women at Oktoberfest

stereotypical German women in traditional dress

two Indian women

South asian girl

I find that if I try for even a second to put myself in someone else's place, I can let go of much of my  judgment.  I make up a back story which is much more interesting that my initial judgments.  Like with the bevy of beauties - the first picture today - I wonder who these women are?  Why are they having their pictures taken?  What are they thinking?  I have worked wtih girls I think might model for such pictures - they are gorgeous and perhaps they would like being the center of such attention.  Then I have my judgments - if they had any self-esteem, they wouldn't need to do that.  They were probably molested as kids.  Well, they are gorgeous.  I wish I looked like that - ever!  I'll never be that beautiful.  How would it feel to do a photo shoot like that?  Are they being used?  Or are they all conscious adults making free choices to model, making good money at it, and enjoying being seen?  Obviously I have no clue, and the story is probably different for each one of the women, but I definitely wonder...  and judge...  and judge somemore.  I don't get away from my set judgments about it very easily.  And you?

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