We can’t avoid the barrage of images of perfect bodies every. second. of. the. day. As a mother of a a teenage boy and two preteens — one of which is a girl — I’m constantly squirming when I see them. Luckily almost as many messages are thrown at us criticizing the media for doing this.
But don’t think modern media is the only culprit. We have been receiving messages around culture’s expectations of our bodies since cave man & woman) days. A great article in the Huffington Post covering a Wangechi Mutu’s new exhibit, “Body Utopia,” reminded me of this. In attempt to fight AGAINST the stereotypes projected to us via oil paints, sculptures and now photos, Mutu asked her “feminist friends” to think about how art has often forced beauty conventions down our throats over the years. She then curated an exhibit at Trestle Gallery with six other artists to showcase the atypical, yet beautiful and strong, images of women.
While I could write a whole post about the exhibit itself (and I can’t WAIT to see it for myself!) , what strikes me right now is how true Mutu is. This propensity to declare what is beautiful has been around, well, forever. And I don’t think we will ever stop doing this. Frankly, I don’t think we should stop. It’s wonderful to embrace beauty. But I agree with Mutu and her colleagues that we can present MANY different versions of what is beautiful. So much of our tastes are culture-made. Imagine if we exposed our children to TONS of different images of beauty — A LOT. They would develop totally new sets of expectations we have today around what is beautiful.
We would ALL be so much happier.