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Beauty, Appearance, Attraction, & Power
Two new podcast episodes: Forever 35 and Moonbeaming!
My latest thesis on beauty is as follows:
Beauty, appearance, attraction, and power are four separate things.
Beauty culture tells us they’re all one thing (beauty).
This is why we’re so messed up about beauty.
This idea is admittedly half-baked; it’s something I’m still researching and mulling over and working out — which means it’s something that I currently can’t shut up about. Bits and pieces of my theory made their way into two podcasts I recorded recently, so I figured I’d share!
Moonbeaming with Sarah Faith Gottesdiener
Sarah and I talked about so much — as she says in the intro, “what kind of beauty standards help who, and what kind of beauty standards harm us all” — but one big focus of this episode was deconstructing beauty versus appearance. As I’ve said many times before, one of the worst things beauty culture has done to us is co-opt the word “beauty” to describe a standard of physical appearance alone. Most of us understand the word in the spiritual sense (spiritual as in of the human spirit, not organized religion) — the way nature is beautiful, the way that sunsets are beautiful. We want to feel that. We want to be seen as that!! But that type of beauty will never be:
achieved with the physical tools the beauty industry offers, or
recognized as “beautiful” by oppressive power structures (like beauty culture, which is a product of patriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism)
…and so in focusing on appearance, our inherently human need for beauty is never satisfied. For more on this, listen to my guest appearance on Moonbeaming.
The podcast blurb perfectly sums it up: In this episode, hosts Kate and Doree and I discuss “how our obsession with beauty culture is by design, which industries have been influenced and altered by it, and why cis-gendered participation in beauty culture encourages oppressive systems.” As such, we dive deep into the differences between beauty and power, dissecting how “beauty” tools (or what we’ve been conditioned to believe are beauty tools) are actually “used as tools of conformity, control, and consumerism” — functions that are completely at odds with beauty!! and completely in line with (oppressive) power!!! Give the full episode a listen here.
Yes, I still need to address how attraction factors into all of this, but like I said… the thesis is a work in progress.