November 17, 2013

BHOWMICK: Foxy Ladies, Vulpine Men

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When Groucho Marx claimed sardonically that a belladonna in Venezuela “got her good looks from her father, he’s a plastic surgeon,” I doubt anyone was offended or found the comment particularly unusual. After all, Venezuelan retail stores have found a new secret to profit maximization — they have made their mannequins more bootylicious! Mannequin makers in Venezuela sculpt and carve because the benchmark for beauty in perfection never ceases to ascend. The breasts keep getting larger and the waists tinier until they disappear and the mannequin collapses like wickerwork. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan woman is beginning to mirror the mannequin — a little nose job here, some fat reduction there and the process never really stops. They are beguiled by the concept of boosting their confidence by improving how they look on the outside, but they actually end up pushing themselves deeper into an abyss of depression. Obviously, body image is a big deal in Venezuela. It is also a big deal at Cornell, and not necessarily only for women.

We’re not in a deranged frenzy of stretching our legs, narrowing our midsections and enhancing and reducing every body part we can possibly think of just yet. Nevertheless, we’re spending large portions of our time thinking about how to look like we stepped out of the cloud-palace above Mount Olympus. We spend small fortunes on trying to perfect a constructed image of ourselves we have in our minds. Replace your expensive products with confidence and you’re better off. If you’re terrific to be around, no one will really care if you show up at a party wearing the same thing you wore last weekend and the weekend before that. The only person who is so bothered and caught up is you. Here’s a simple experiment I urge you to carry out — spend a day avoiding the vicious mirror.  I promise you the day will seem less exacting.

To those around you, you pretty much look like you’ve always looked — it’s your own eye that gauges these peaks and falls in your appearance. If we learn to love what we see in the mirror everyday, we’ll surpass the combined beauty of all former Miss Venezuelas. Becoming the best versions of ourselves doesn’t mean tweaking our dimensions at all. One needs to lose weight only when it is medically necessary for him or her to do so. As for sexual attraction — it consists of a number of things apart from the clothes you’re wearing and the size of your muffin top. Ask men and women alike: The way someone talks, walks, what he or she talks about, how sociable a person is, all of that figures into a person’s sexual profile way more than how straight, long, sharp or stubby a person’s nose is.

Body image is essentially a two-fold concept. It encompasses how one perceives the aesthetics and sexual attractiveness of his or her own body and how social institutions prescribe an ideal body image. Since I am addressing social institutions, I might as well take this moment to state that is a product of the most thick-headed, half-witted and imbecilic minds of our generation. This website is, for lack of a better word, simply dumb. Therefore, ladies at Cornell, if any of you derive your ideas about body image from websites such as these, you have serious issues. But since these hideous social platforms will always exist (because the world has its imperfections), the way to tackle body image is from the inside out.

It is true that happier girls are the prettiest and, more importantly, that happy girls eat. Stop living on granola bars if you don’t like them. Do not detest yourself for indulging in a lavish meal. The secret to happiness at Cornell is food, sleep and friends.

I urge the men of the world to collaborate in this struggle against negative body image and help the beautiful women around them realize that they are just that: beautiful. Ladies, return the favor because both men and women are trying to stay afloat on this struggle boat. Finally, nothing is sexier than confidence. If you’re actually looking to improve your social presence, start feeling confident in your own skin instead of wishing you were in someone else’s.