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Archive for December, 2011

The “Male Gaze”

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of the “male gaze” lately.  I’ve encountered the term in several books and blogs I’ve read on the subject of body image.  Lillian Calles Barger explains it this way in her book, Eve’s Revenge: “Because we expect to be looked at, because we have internalized that phenomenon, we have formalized the gaze and created various rituals  around it: fashion shows, cheerleading, the Miss America pageant, the elaborate wedding ceremony in which any woman can be Miss America for the day.”  And,  “The expectation that women parade under the fixed gaze of many sets of eyes is as old as the world and often captured in Western art.  The female nude painted by such artists as Renoir and Rubens expresses a containment of women under a male gaze that assumes passivity and vulnerability.”

It seems that as girls grow up in this culture, we gradually grow to believe that one of the main reasons we are on this earth is to be attractive to men.  For some, no doubt, this realization is not so gradual(I’m speaking of those women who were exposed to pornography at a young age).  As a young girl, I was constantly exposed to media gradually, whether in magazines or on television.  As I viewed these images on a daily basis, I came to realize, directly or indirectly…it is very important that I grow up to be pretty(fill in your word of choice here…thin, sexy, hot, beautiful, attractive.)

As Sierra of The Unspoken Words: A Non-Prophet Message puts it so eloquently in her blog post

I am arguing for ditching the mentality that everything you wear and do is a performance for men.  Modesty is a doctrine that is predicated on the male gaze.”

and

Women deserve basic human dignity for their achievements and character, not their looks.”

Sierra’s blog post is about modesty, but I think it applies to body image just as well.  We grow up thinking that it is our responsibility to look good, to maintain our lowest weight, to wear makeup, to look “hot”, and on and on.  We reinforce it by our preoccupation with how our clothes, hair, and butts look to others.  We are constantly aware…we are being watched and scrutinized.  But, did you know ~

You are capable of much more than being looked at.  Do you know who you are?  Have you grasped the powerful role you can play in a world so badly in need of your unique talents, wisdom, and light?”

~ written by Lexie Kite of  Beauty Redefined

You are not here to be looked at.  Neither am I.  And although I definitely haven’t “arrived” in this area, I’m in transition.  Each day I remind myself, I am not here to be looked at, I become more confident and more determined to fulfill my calling here on earth, and I am free to think less about how I look, because it doesn’t define who I am.

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This blog really is not supposed to be simply a link to what other people write, but this stuff is so very well written and thought out, that I need to share it.  So please bear with me on this:)  I suppose my purpose in starting this blog was to share ideas about true beauty and expose the lies we’re told by our culture and the media, so sharing links is helpful.  I want to spread this message so we can share it with our families and friends, and cause change person by person.   Anyhoo, here you go:

http://www.beautyredefined.net/to-be-or-to-be-looked-at/

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Here is another excellent article from Beauty Redefined.  The next time you’re standing in line at the grocery store and you spot those gorgeous women on the covers, think about this…

http://www.beautyredefined.net/media-ideals-the-real-true-hollywood-story/

 

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Beauty Redefined

I have to thank my friend Billie for sharing this link with me…I think it’s something all women AND men should read so we’re all clear on what’s real and what’s not.  (The entire website is worth checking out, too.)

http://www.beautyredefined.net/photoshopping-altering-images-and-our-minds/

 

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Physical beauty can be like a security blanket.  God made our bodies purposefully to reflect the beauty of his creativity.  But the moment we lose sight of the purpose of our physical beauty– to reflect the image of God — our beauty becomes something it was never intended to be.  And in the end it isn’t physical beauty that makes us most beautiful anyway…the true measuring stick for attractiveness is a life that models Christ.  This is true for all of us, whether we seem to fit cultural beauty standards or not.  So at this point I’m left alone with the question, What will be most important to me?  The difference between looking beautiful and being beautiful rests in whether it’s more noticeable that I bear the image of Christ or that I bear the image of Tommy Hilfiger.  The more I invest in my physical appearance, the more the world notices me, not Jesus in me.  Will I devote myself to my own image so that the world will see me — polished, perfect, and pleasing?  Or will I be devoted to bearing the image of Jesus, so that the world sees past me and notices the One who is most beautiful of all?”

~from Wanting to be Her, by Michelle Graham(page 137)

Do I find security in my appearance?  Is looking beautiful what I’m striving for?  If I do what will happen as I get older and the security blanket starts to slip off?  What will be left…a bitterness for lost youth, or a hidden treasure relfecting the image of Christ?

It’s certainly worth thinking about…

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