Body Shapes, Face Shapes, Confidence, and Patriarchy. Where It All Went Wrong

This topic is very close to my heart and I feel like some things have to be said. After years of research in the field of style, fashion history, body type systems, and face shape theories, body shape and face shape recommendations I have come to conclusions that will surprise you. If you’ve ever tried to determine your body and face shape, then this post is for you.

Humans as a species naturally strive for development and perfecting of what we have. If it wasn’t for these features, we’d never end up with a civilization that we have today. However, the idea of perfection is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we opt for more and for becoming better. On the other hand, we create ideals that we compare ourselves to, which is where the issue lies.

Let’s cut to the chase. Why do we consider hourglass body shape and oval face shape as ideal? This is something we hear about from the time we’re very young – we usually can’t even tell for sure when we first learned about it. Today, various studies exist to show that a certain waist to hips ratio and certain face shape are the most attractive and desirable. So easily we’ve come to the main culprit.

Do these systems work? 

There are currently more than 3.8 billion women in the world, according to the World Bank. Almost 4 billion unique individuals… and less than a dozen ‘body shapes’ and ‘face shapes’? It strikes me as unbeliavable that we still go with these systems. How can we fit almost 4 billion people in less than a dozen boxes?

People aren’t cutlery, fruits, geometric shapes, or tools! They are people. You’d agree that good old Lara Croft looks like a person on the right, while geometric shapes is what we see on the left:

good old Lara.jpg

But what about clothes, makeup, and hair recommendations? 

The best thing is to flaunt your features. If ‘fruit system’ recommendations help you do that, then of course use them. In my opinion, choosing outfits with the purpose of altering your appearance will never look as good as choosing clothes that embrace your features. I’m convinced that your wardrobe has to be your friend, otherwise it ends up emphasizing the features you want to alter. For instance, when a short person wears uncomfortably high heels, it’s obvious that they do it to appear taller. When women with straight waist wear waist-cinching clothes, it’s obvious that they want to be more stereotypically feminine hourglass.

I say ‘stereotypically feminine’ because femininity, beauty, grace, attractiveness, and elegance, don’t depend on body shape or face shape. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and I’ll fight anyone who’ll disagree (in a Sherlock Holmes intellectual fight manner of course).

For me personally, Kibbe’s Metamorphosis has been truly life-changing. Here’s an overview of the system, explanation of Yin and Yang, and Kibbe image ID test with examples. To each their own, of course, but my major point is that you don’t have to try to become the ‘ideal’ and embrace what you have.

What if you use these systems? What’s bad about it? 

My answer is ‘everything.’ The system that has an ‘ideal’ will always teach you wrong things. To be exact, if you identify as any other body or face shape than the ‘ideal’ you’ll have recommendations on how to conceal your natural features and fake the ‘ideals.’ The problem is that women learn to live with the idea that they just aren’t good enough. That they need clothes to fix their own features.

For a round face, it’s important to cover the sides of the face to make it appear less round, for inverted triangle body shape you need to conceal your wide shoulders because they don’t look feminine… I’m sure you’re heard or read something like this at one point or another.

Society’s norms and these ‘ideals’ impose a huge amount of pressure on women. That’s how women end up with low self-worth, eating disorders, and low self-esteem.

Think about where these ‘standards’ come from. Do they coincide with what you consider beautiful? For instance, I think Olivia Wilde’s jawline isn’t unattractive because it’s wide and blunt – I think it’s her awesome unique feature and it suits her very well, making her memorable. Being an hourglass won’t make a person healthier or happier, same as having an ‘oval’ face shape. It also doesn’t mean being more attractive. So overall these ‘standards’ are just tools to make women insecure about themselves and weaker, unable to truly realize their inner power.

Why do these ‘ideals’ still persist? 

Who benefits from weakening women? Men do. And then everyone else. A man who’s weak himself will always feel threatened by woman’s confidence. Thousands of years of sexism and discrimination tell this story in a much more vivid way than I’ll ever be able to.

It might seem that we’ve progressed enough as a society to be able to toss these fake ‘ideals’ aside, but sadly we didn’t. The amount of plastic surgeries that women get every day is one of the best proofs. Kim Kardashian will forever be the symbol of exaggerated feminity – a perfectly shaped woman to begin with, she changed into a super-hourglass.

I don’t judge or criticize plastic surgery by any means. If a person does it for themselves, then I applaud their bravery! Here I mean doing plastic surgery to fit someone else’s ‘standards’ of beauty, under the pressure of social expectations.

What can be done? 

Here I’m tempted to use Japanese phrase “shō ga nai” meaning ‘it can’t be helped’ but I dislike this pessimistic stance. Despite that these social ‘norms’ and standards are incredibly deep-rooted and set in our minds, it’s possible to eliminate their impact on how women see themselves.

To accomplish this, women need to develop more confidence. It’s crucial to take a fresh look at yourself as if you’ve never seen yourself before and think to yourself that you’ll never have another you. You are as unique as it gets, so why try to fit into some fake box? Why struggle trying to create waist emphasis if you just naturally have straighter waist and hate to wear feminine ruffly pieces? As soon as we embrace who we are, no ‘standards of attraction’ will affect us. And believe me, there’s nothing more attractive than confidence!

Love,

Alex

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