Posts tagged lingerie
Posts tagged lingerie
On Cultural Relativism and Beauty Standards
When it comes to beauty, and especially what we consider to be beautiful, I think it’s hard for some people to remember that our particular standard of beauty is just that – our particular standard of beauty. There is nothing inherently superior or better about it. It is simply what’s in fashion now, for our particular culture, at this specific time.
While beauty standards do have some intrinsic qualities or commonalities across time and geography (specifically youth, symmetry, blemish-free skin, and proportionality) the details of beauty can vary wildly between cultures and ethnic groups. Body type, body shape, body weight…none of these things are cultural absolutes, and it is ethnocentric in the extreme to imply that another culture’s standard of beauty is inferior to your own for no other reason than that it is different.
When it comes to breasts, the Western ideal is a perky, uplifted breast shape. But would it be so unusual to imagine a culture where a softer, languorous shape is preferable? Especially since that shape, as I’ll discuss later, is often associated with other desirable outcomes, like childbearing and reaching a more mature age? Don’t get me wrong…much like our policy on body snark, I don’t really care about your personal preferences. Like what you like; it’s not really relevant to this conversation. However, one’s preferences are not applicable to the entire world.
If another culture’s standard of beauty doesn’t encompass the Western ideal, that’s fine. It shouldn’t be used as fuel for the insult of, “Either do things our way or you might look like them!” And that issue is magnified because Western standards of beauty are already incredibly Eurocentric, which means using a photograph of dark-skinned Black women as a “What Not to Wear” illustration is faulty all around.
Paris and plus-size aren’t two terms that fashionistas often place together, but this week the style capital broke boundaries hosting its first ever plus size fashion week.
Pulp fashion week celebrated curvaceous women displaying designs from French labels like Maryse Richardson and Femme Fabuleuses, and retailers like Forever 21 and Asos Curve.
The week-long fashion festival follows the lead of New York fashion week, which hosted its first ever plus-size show this year.
Found this via Australian Women’s Weekly.
Unf. That lace.
Why Objectifying the Breasts of “Tribal African Women” Is Part of a Racist Legacy
Invoking the image of African women “as a lesson” to Western women has a long, ugly history in racism, slavery, and colonialism. There is terrible, terrible tradition in Western cultures of making the bodies of indigenous peoples open to criticism, commentary, and co-optation, and of using their bodies as an example of what not to look like. The same mindset that makes it okay to use a photo of a “tribal African woman” to make a point about bras, is the same mindset that makes it okay to use a photo of a black woman’s natural hair as an example of how not to look and that allows the skin-lightening cream industry to thrive.
That contrast – of the naked with the clothed, the savage with the refined, the dark with the light, the superior with the inferior – is part of a horrid and horrifying legacy that reinforced a Eurocentric standard of beauty upon the skin, hair, lips, noses, breasts, and buttocks of black women. Pointing to the breasts of “tribal African woman’s” as evidence of your bra-wearing rightness (because let’s face it, there are other places to get photos of bare breasts than National Geographic) is the 21st century equivalent of gawping at Sarah Bartmann’s labia.
There is something very exploitative about not only co-opting and subverting the photos of these women, but also of essentializing them…of reducing them to one specific body part – their breasts. Their bosoms become a prop or a tool to aid in commerce: the selling of bras. That is the definition of objectification, and if you are a breast expert or bra expert or even someone who claims to want to help women, objectifying non-Western women should never be a part of that. “Tribal African women” do not exist to buttress the bra industry. Their bodies are not a cautionary tale for what happens if you go braless. And all this would be true even if the research said bras will keep your breasts from sagging.
Listen, if wearing a bra makes you feel better for whatever reason (more support, less pain, preferred shape, fashion and style, whatever), that’s great. People should wear bras if they want to wear them for whatever reason they want to wear them for. There’s nothing wrong or bad about wanting support or shaping or what have you. But there’s no need to resort to tired tropes, body myths, urban legends, and racist stereotypes to explain your preference. Just say you like them…and move on.