Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Friday, February 24, 2006

Eva Longoria is Not Pretty

Neither is Penelope Cruz. Neither is Julia Roberts. Neither is Kirsten Dunst. Tara Reid never was, even before her recent skankification. Mischa Barton makes me shuddder. Gwyneth Paltrow? Please--though I love Sliding Doors, it ain't because I'm smitten at the sight of her. Stop telling me that these women are beautiful, just because they're skinny. Have you actually looked at them? They're not attractive, and yet I'm being told--forcefully, insistently--that I ought to be sexually aroused by the very sight of them. I'm not, and stop it. Just because they weigh nothing does not mean they're hot. On the contrary, really. The perversity of such thinness is that it actually makes genuinely beautiful women--think Angelina Jolie about 4 years ago--look like life-models for Corpse Bride. (I've talked about this elsewhere, and won't rehash the point.)

There's been a long tradition in American popular culture of describing anyone who's female with zero body fat and a lack of obvious physical deformities and facial scars as "beautiful"--witness the fact that Jackie Kennedy was "beautiful"--a woman who, if she were working at the Dairy Queen, you'd only have looked at twice if she'd given you the wrong change. That goes double for the late, unmissed Princess Diana--a plain jane in $8 billion worth of clothes and jewelry. I'm not sure why this is so.

It's easy, of course, to blame High Fashion (and I do). But what I find fascinating is the degree to which we, the public, lap up the lie. I mean, if we're being appealed to at our most primal, back-of-the-brain level, how it possible that we're falling for this s***? Sex is hard-wired, isn't it? I mean, isn't this why you can't "cure" homosexuals? Have you ever tried to feed your dog something he doesn't like? He won't eat it. He knows what he wants--it's primal--and he can't be 'worked into' liking what he doesn't want. Men like flesh--sorry if I'm putting it crudely, but there it is--and yet we're being denied the very thing we actually want. And being told that we don't actually want it, we want...Lara Flynn Boyle. But we don't--dear God, we don't. We're being told to ignore the steak and just eat the breadstick. And yet somehow, despite the primal urge and the sane logic behind it--we're believing this. Why? I'm no fan of conspiracy theories--I spend the entire miserable 3 hours I spend reading The DaVinci Code muttering "Give me a f***ing break!"--but there's got to be one. Nothing else makes sense. Unless...

Unless. See, I read about how men are losing their minds over Jessica Alba--who thanks to looks and diet, appears to be about 12--and I worry--are we appealed to as potential pedophiles? Because that's what these women look like. When women get too skinny--when malnutrition reaches a certain point, the female body stops menstruating. It reverts back to pre-pubescence, the clock turned forcefully back to childhood. Is that what we're being subliminally sold? Women who are of legal age but illegal form? I worry that this is so--I worry that rather than being sold sex, we're being sold power--dominance of adult over child--in the form of sex. Because that dynamic, when it sinks into the heads of men who think that that's what they want, and women who think that that's how they have to look/act to get men--then, folks, this just can't lead anywhere good.

So, please. Please stop telling me that Sarah Jessica Parker is hot. She isn't--she looks, thanks to diet and surgery, exactly as she did when she was on Square Pegs back in the '80s (look it up on imdb, you 20-somethings.) And that means, if she's legitimately hot, then Humbert Humbert was just a man slightly ahead of his time. And that. Is scary.

Author's Note: The subject for this blog was not conceived by the blogger. Credit goes to a certain young woman who knows who she is and prefers to remain anonymous. But she gets a big 'thank you' from me, plus any other acts of gratitude she cares to name.


Blogger Jason said...

I agree with the drift of this. Slender can be attractive--even lean. But not emaciated. The only problem with the pedophilia theory is that often serious skinniness looks older not younger. Think of the cherubic Sarah Michele Gellar of early Buffy as against the rather gaunt, older-looking one of later Buffy. As long as we're talking celebs...

7:45 AM  
Blogger phd me said...

Dryden, this is why I love you. How many normal-sized celebs are there that are considered gorgeous? The media went beserk when Kate Winslett gained "all that weight" and she was a freaking size 12. How does her dress size mitigate how beautiful she is?

Yes and no, Jason. SMG looks old if you look at her face; if you look at her body, she looks 12. Same goes for Calista Flockhart and Paris Hilton. All these "beautiful" celebs have bodies that I see walking around campus every day - mind-boggling how skinny some of these undergrad girls are. How do women - who should have hips and body fat as they move into prime childbearing years - keep that emaciated glamorous thing going? Most women I know would love to drop a few pounds but we're not insane enough to think we're going to return to our high school body weight - but that's the goal if we want to meet the standard of beauty put out in society.

Society hasn't always considered thin beautiful, though; think of Bettie Page and Marilyn Monroe. Does some of today's obsession have to do with the culture of wealth? Wealthy people can afford to be thin; 200 years ago, wealthy people could afford to be fat. Maybe the buxom beauty of the 40s and 50s was a backlash against the poverty of the Depression?

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where I'm concerned, Dryden, I somehow feel that "gratitude" isn't foremost on the list of things that you'd like to express.

That being said, though, I think I'd like a pony.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You used to LIKE Lara Flynn Boyle, didn't you? Or was that just the brainwashing, before your enlightenment and rebellion against the child bride conspiracy?


1:34 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

I'm sorry that men are being deprived of their "flesh". Not. I hate to dissolve the arguement, but women feel better when they have muscles instead of fat. When slender, we enjoy meals more, we have more energy...

I am a dancer and am very pleased with my body. I am not constantly hungry. I am not emancipated. I am a women who can do twelve jetes in a row, high kicks for over two minutes and run the mile without sweating.

Granted, there are several celebrities that could use a few deep-fried twinkies. But Julia Roberts, Penelope Cruz and Gwyneth Paltrow do not fall into this catagory. These stars are a few that DO respect their bodies. They are slender, as well as intelligent and talented. You do not have to have sex with them. Some men prefer bigger women. But I can bet that Julia Roberts isn't feeling sorry for her lack of fleshy eye-candy. It isn't weight that make these women beautiful. Have you looked at their smiles? Listened to them laugh?

Next time a women walks by, do not focus on the size of her waist and hips. They are what they are. Rather, think to yourself, "I wonder if she likes snow and roasting marshmellows?"

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree...high fashion plus skin and bones does not equal beauty

8:20 PM  
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7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Janet: You're not emancipated?

4:05 AM  

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