On the other hand, the Laws of Beauty are quite fickle. There is no one Code of Beauty which a woman can read up on and follow to stay on the right side of the Law. Instead, it is ever-changing, set by a fashion and beauty industry whose raison d'etre is to make money. And they make more money when people buy their products (i.e. buy into their version of right and wrong). It's good for them if the version of right and wrong changes frequently so women have to keep up by buying more - following fickle fashion trends to the letter. Their other tactic is fear - if you don't follow our rules, you'll...
be a pariahThe punishments are harsh, unforgiving and horrible. They're also capricious and biased towards wealth.
never attract a sexy mate
In our world in the United States, white skin, good well-coifed hair, expensive fashionable clothes, and thinness allow a woman entree into society in the same way severely bound feet did in earlier Chinese society.
The rules are harsh for the initiated:
get a manicure and pedicure frequently
go to the hair salon every 4 weeks
wax/shave your legs
wave/shave your underarms
wax/clean up your pubic hair by shaving, plucking, cutting, waxing
get rid of "ugly" hair anywhere on the body
wear perfume to create the correct smell (one that will attract the sexy hunk)
thighs must not touch
stomachs must be flat (get a tummy tuck if not)
butts now must be rounded yet firm (since J Lo has come on the scene. They used to have to be flat and firm. Thankfully, Victoria's Secret has begun selling panties with pads to help women out.)
lips should be full (get a botox treatment if they aren't)
do not wrinkle
do not age
white is right (use skin-lightening creams and chemicals if you're brown or black, a la Michael Jackson)
wear the latest fashions - but not too slavishly - make sure you have your own, slightly eclectic style
There are a LOT of people who can make a LOT of money from all the treatments necessary to make a woman fit these rigid standards of beauty.
And there's no way to attain perfection. 42 plastic surgeries, and a woman in Argentina is still ready for more. (If I read the Portuguese correctly, now she wants to have a surgery to make her a virgin again.)
There is always someone who will judge what's right or not right about a person. If a woman doesn't have a strong sense of what is right for her, she can drown in societal expectations.
Some would argue that more beautiful women are chosen more often as partners and thereby beauty products do help us do what we're here for - reproduce. Perhaps that is true to a certain extent, but since the standards of beauty change constantly, how does that work?
Couldn't we use our time and energy more effectively and in better ways than by obsessing over our bodies and clothes?