“Beauty is my birthright.” This is a quote from an interview with a young Los Angeles woman. These words are just fantastic to me because they totally capture how so many American women view beauty. In my exploration of beauty in our culture, I have seen how women see it as something that ALL should be able to attain — just like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. True, most of us aren’t natural beauties. But if we just take a little time, spend a few bucks and work a bit, and we too can be beautiful. None of us are destined to be unattractive! According to Lois Banner’s American Beauty this belief dates back even to the 19th century: “In the innumerable analyses of beautiful women in the popular journals of day…the beauty advice was always the same: live right, eat right, exercise, and you will become beautiful.”
The other day I was talking to a friend who writes for beauty sites and her own beauty blog. In an embarrassed voice she described a piece she was writing that helps people figure out how to flaunt their assets, e.g., legs, butt, neck, etc. While I can see how she may have found the information in her piece a bit more shallow than, lets say, the BP spill or the latest battle in Afghanistan, let me tell ya, people still care a LOT about how to make their assets work for them. Why? Because it’s something all of us can do to fulfill our “birthright.” By the way, isn’t it interesting that we all use the term “assets” to define our best beauty parts? Like it or not, we know how valuable — economically and otherwise — our beauty is!
The downside to this democratic attainment of beauty, though, is that we may spend too much time trying to fulfill it since we think that there’s no reason NOT to have it. And the competitive among us can end up wasting a lot of energy (emotional and physical) pushing that much farther to be even more beautiful.
Still, I’d much rather live in a society where everyone has a chance at anything: success, love, beauty, you name it. With July 4th nearing, let’s celebrate the freedom to be happy, healthy and, yes, beautiful — and maybe even pick some bronzer along with the sparklers and hot dog rolls.