Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Perfect Body



Perfection. It seems to me, it's an individual concept, subject to our personal ideas and whims.

The perfect partner.
The perfect home.
The perfect job.
The perfect night out.

Chances are, we're likely to find a large degree in variation in our responses. You prefer an upscale condo, I like simple on the beach. You like steady/stable, I like uncertainty and change.

Why, then, do so many of us agree upon the perfect body?

15 comments:

PalmTreeChick said...

Perhaps it is because we are bombarded with these images of the so-called "perfect" body. These images, as we all know, are those of extremely thin/emaciated women. We see them everywhere. They're got the fame and the fortune which often leads people to believe they've got the perfect life and many attribute that to their looks.

ps22 said...

I don't know, do all women have the same idea of what is a perfect body? Or just the same idea that they shouldn't like the body that they already have? You know how it is..."if i just had this", "if i just lost that", and once they get there, they find something else to obsess about.

Miss Blue said...

I don't know that I agree that many of us have the same notion of what a perfect body is, but I think we all feel we are not at our own personal best. At least that is what it is to me. The emaciated, Nicole Ritchie, or fashion model look is not at all what my ideal is, and it never has been. I fear getting fat, period. I never wanted to be 100 pounds. I still don't, and never will. I have big boobs, and wish I had smaller perky ones. I have thick hair that everyone else loves, and wish I had thinner, more manageable hair. I think more curvaceous women are beautiful, and I like imperfect noses that add character to a face and make it original... So I think there is a valid question somewhere in there, I'm just not sure what it is-yet. There probably is not as much variation in the perfect partner, perfect home, perfect job or perfect night out, either. On a continuum, all of these "perfects" would probably have a lot of definition overlap amongst us. One common theme, I think, in many of our lives, is that in some way, once we get what we thought we wanted, we want more, or better, or what the neighbor has instead of what we have. It's as if we have a problem only with ourselves and our own possessions.

Did that make sense?

Jen said...

Wow. Great question. My gut reaction to this is that we agree because it's the image that we're force fed for most of our waking hours, no matter what country or time zone we live in. We're fed this image by the media -- on the news, in magazines, on TV, etc. I mean, think about it. The image doesn't vary much. Those who achieve enough fame to be followed by the media all seem to fit pretty neatly into that "perfect" category...

LG said...

Funny, because folks seem to understand that some people can be teachers, some store clerks, others engineers, still others musicians etc...but when it comes to bodies, there's usually just the one goal of being thin.

Miss Blue said...

I think one recent development is the acceptance of heavier /curvier ladies as beautiful, like Beyonce (hardly, but definitely not a size 2), America Ferrara, Queen Latifah (for some time now), and Jennifer Hudson. There are (few) others, I just can't think of them now. Hopefully this trend will continue. I also wonder who is responsible for setting the standard of what is beautiful, and what size is "perfect". Is it the fashion industry, entertainment industry, beauty industry, and who follows whom? Who are the trendsetters, really? I have a tendency to believe that for the last few decades at least, it's been the fashion industry.
Us women have the buying power in this country. The majority of goods bought, are bought by us. We can stop buying any magazines that don't adhere to, or promote the standards that we wish to achieve. I have never been one to buy fashion or gossip magazines. More recently, I stopped buying fitness magazines too because I'm tired of seeing the contradictory messages in those.
So stop buying any of these magazines. All of them. Completely boycott every single one of them. Stop buying clothes at the Gap, Banana Republic, Bebe, Limited, or other stores that use unrealistic images of women in their advertising. And spread the word. We have the economic power to make these changes, the question is whether or not we have the resolve and determination.

CactusFreek said...

I think the perfect body is the body that is healthy and doesn't inhibit everyday movement. What is considered attractive is a different matter and varying.

Feisty Frida said...

I wish I could honestly think like Cactusfreek, I really do. Even though it is SO true, I do not feel it, for me. I don't think we all have the same idea of what a perfect body is, but we all think that we need to lose weight, regardless of what we look like now....and I know we all look great...so sad...

Anonymous said...

Do we really? I don't think so. Some of us may TALK as though we agree, but deep down? Personally, I don't even believe there IS such a thing. And having finally really, REALLY, truly come to accept my own body and vowed never to diet again, I cannot begin to express the freedom I feel. I think the "perfect" body for each of us is exactly what cactusfreek said. That doll on the original post? Not hardly.

drstaceyny said...

ptc--we are bombarded by this images--certainly thin, sometimes emaciated.

ps--not necessarily, but it's interesting what a google search turns up or how often you overhear, "She had the perfect body." It's possible you're right--there's some sort of perfection in the imperfection that we latch onto.

mb--yep. Grass is always greener, huh?

jen--pretty much. : (

lg--good point.

mb--I hope these trends continue, too. It's great that you're doing your part.

cf--I like this approach.

ff--it is sad.

anon--love it.

tracy said...

Hmmm, If 20 woman were put into 20 rooms with 20 sketch artists I think there would be 20 different images of our own version of 'perfection'

I don't think there is one image but probably an image for each person - but I do think that there probably is a socital version of beauty that has narrow margins (and changes from time to time.) For the most part that seems to be what people strive for...to be in those narrow margins...

lee

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that, like palmtreechick said, the one reason we can all seem to agree on the "perfect" body is that we've had media representations of it all throughout our lives. Visual media is relatively new, historically, dating from the late 1800s; before that time, I doubt the concept of a perfect body existed, but there were some ideals of beauty represented in art and sculpture. These seemed to vary according to era and culture as such type of art were not viewed by many over a long period of time. Today's images are standardized, and used to sell--we all get the same images, and the same messages, I believe, from them--i.e., this is what you should look like; all women look this way; and if you don't look this way, your life would be better if you looked this way; this can be used to promote products and services. Perhaps the genesis of this current perfection standard is an idealization of youth (slenderness and small hips), mixed with an idealization of fertility (big higs and breasts). These combinations are rare in nature, but have a strong intuitive appeal and when put together and idealized and repeatedly presented, have become part of our cultural values (both men and women respond to this ideal) despite the intellectual fact that we the cultural ideal is rare in real life. Also, with a lot of work (diet, exercise, and cosmetic help), this body type is achievable for some--so if it's achievable, and it's strongly desired, people will try to approximate it (or die trying).

Anonymous said...

FAT WOMEN NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT

Anonymous said...

FAT WOMEN NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT

Anonymous said...

'The perfect body' has been around for a long time, it isn't recent. Women have always needed to look a certain way - usually from men's ideals, especially when marriage was considered.
But the perfect body changes with each culture. Some people, especially the Egyptians, have always preferred fat women. Why? It was a symbol of wealth to have enough food to eat.
And then if you consider the Asian population - most of their women are tiny.
I'm sure you've heard of corsets? They were created to give women the perfect shape.
Aesthetically pleasing women (by men's standards) have always had the best. The perfect body is only real because of the response it gets from men. That is the truth, and has been for thousands of years.
I think that just because more attention is being focused on the media and because the fashion world is focusing on the extreme end of weight we are paying more attention to the perfect body. There has always been an ideal.