Sunday, May 19, 2013

No Visible Gray Hair

"There is no visible gray hair on the heads of any of the 16 female United States senators, ages 46 to 74.”

I watched Book TV today and learned about a book I hadn't heard of, The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law by Deborah Rhode, a law professor at Stanford University. Rhode says, "Cosmetic surgery has quadrupled over the last decade. Women still wear stiletto heels that ruin their feet and backs and buy any wrinkle-smoothing cream for any price."

I have long thought that once women achieved a measure of freedom from having their movements and finances completely controlled by men, the new method of control became fashion and makeup. Susan Faludi writes about this in detail in her book Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women published in 1991. This latest method of control makes women lack confidence in the way they look and fear censure if they don't dress in the latest fashions. This is more treacherous than earlier control mechanisms because it comes in the guise of "making you feel better about yourself." It is also insidious because women themselves are major proponents of the "beauty rules," often policing one another.

I am old enough to remember when most "decent" women did not wear makeup. Red lipstick on the mouth and rouge on the cheeks were the calling card of prostitutes. Blood engorged lips and cheeks are a signal of sexual arousal, so it made sense for women selling sex to imitate arousal as a way of enticing customers. I also remember when stiletto heels were the reserve of pornographic magazines.

Now, of course, both these indicators of  sexuality are de rigueur for any fashionable woman, no matter her age. Most women, including those elected to high national office, feel bound by these requirements of "femininity."

Fortunately, this demand that women look and dress within these confines is not legally binding so one woman at a time, we have the option of releasing ourselves from this tyranny.