Thursday, September 8, 2011

On the Artistic Female Aesthetic

While traveling through Europe, I couldn't help but take note of one of my pet issues---the non-traditional nose.  I've written about the topic before (see here, and also Gayle Kirschenbaum's guest post on my blog here).

Touring art museum after art museum, I was struck by the different standards of beauty apparent in artwork compared to beauty magazines.  The social perception that small noses (and flat abs, for that matter) are sexy and feminine is relatively new, and nowhere is that more apparent than in celebrated works of painting and sculpture.

Aphrodite in her classic pose, pictured with plush feminine belly rolls.

Strong nose on a Roman sculpture

Prominent noses are featured as beautiful and unique in modern art, too:

These pictures make me think:  When did we decide to celebrate one look over all others?  When did it become important for us to shave our noses off to make them smaller?  Why do so few of us recognize the same beauty that artists do?

That these images are resurfacing in my mind as I make my way to the airport to spend a week in Miami---one of the most superficial body image cultures in the country---is not a coincidence.  It seems a bit skewed when the celeb- and body image-obsessed entertainment industry gets to come up with a new standard of beauty that bucks actual aesthetics and tradition in favor of...what exactly?

Along these lines, are you folks reading Already Pretty yet?  a) you should be; and b) Sal has another great post up today about Broadcasting Body Confidence.  She advises, among other things, not to engage in body bashing, with which I could not agree more.  For one day, try abstaining from these types of comments about yourself, or at least be aware of the number of times each day you are tempted to make a negative remark about your body.  If you don't engage in this type of talk, be on the lookout for it from others.  It's quite sad and startling how frequently we women say negative things about ourselves for absolutely no reason.

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