I have read a lot about the images of women lately. First there was me and my Madonna post. Then there was Ian, with his Jessica Simpson post (really about skinny verses voluptuous). And Dr. Deb and her "F is for Fat" post. Then there was Knot and his pubes (okay, not his, but Playmate pubes or lack thereof). You put that together with SI and their annual swimsuit issue, along with an article in this month's Wired magazine (more on that later), and we are a society that judges based on looks.
I was going to coin a phrase, lookist. But it looks like it is already in use. From Wikipedia:
Lookism is discrimination against or prejudice towards others based on their appearance. The term is not in widespread use, though it appears in major English language dictionaries.
Lookism has received scholarly attention both from a cultural studies and an economics perspective. In the former context, lookism relates to preconceived notions of beauty and cultural stereotyping based on appearance as well as gender roles and expectations. Important economic considerations include the question of income gaps based on looks, as well increased or decreased productivity from workers considered beautiful or ugly by their co-workers.
I was reading in the current issue of Wired Magazine - I don't normally read it - they had a two page article that showed the BMI of both the average woman in the US (it has gone up since Playboy's inception in 1953, from about 21 to 29) and the BMI of the Monthly Playboy Playmates. Yeah, the playmates BMI has gone down over the same timeframe (from about 18.5 to about 17.7 or so).
I see it this way – women and men in the US are getting bigger. But the idealized female form continues to get skinnier and skinnier. Now I recently joined the Operation Skinny Bitch blog, but I just want to track my weight over time. I don't want to be a skinny bitch, but a healthy sized bitch that has really good muscle tone.
I vacillate back and forth from being upset with lookists to understanding that certain components are important in certain circumstances. For instance, I can understand the need to have attractive people on the news – I mean, most are just reading Teleprompters and have good teeth. That does not bother me at all. And face it, most movie stars are attractive as well – we want to see beautiful people on the silver screen. But if I go in my dentist's office, I want a receptionist that is kind, pleasant and guards my health information voraciously. That's about it.
I have often thought that if we went around in bathing suits year round, people would be more fit. Actually, I think I said naked at one point, but because of health concerns, I am amending my thought. A few years ago, I visited San Diego, CA, and I was amazed at how beautiful all of the people were. Tourists stuck out because of their weight and their lack of tans. People from San Diego were almost universally hot. Men and women, most of which were so attractive. It might be the nice weather most of the year (where you can't hide extra pounds) or that attractive people are drawn to the city. Who knows, perhaps lookists flock to San Diego. They form GQ gangs, get their teeth capped in bulk, that sort of thing.