Sunday, December 6, 2015

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Society bombards American women with images of the "perfect" female figure. We grow up believing that beauty comes in limited form. But history shows us that beauty is subjective, cultural and indeed in the eye of the beholder.

The common phrase "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" first originated in Greece, where some of the world's most significant sculptures heralding the human body were first created and publicly celebrated. Greek artists from the early Minoan to the late Hellenistic period produced paintings and sculptures exhibiting their appreciation for what they saw as the splendor of the human body (from mythical, athletic, mundane to defeated form).

Minoan Snake Goddess

Minoan Fresco

Classic Greek Female Sculpture

The Dying Gaul, Hellenic Sculpture

And as the Italian Renaissance began and flourished, beauty was explored by artists in depth as it came in not only physical form, but in the human conditions of  happiness, despair, pain, salvation, sexuality and death. As such, Italians mastered the art of finding beauty in all things worldly.

Not only in Italy, but as the Renaissance spread throughout all of Europe, appreciation for naturalism, although sometimes controversial, was evident the exhibition of, and endowments supporting, the creative arts in all forms. Beauty was often depicted in forms not seen today in modern society.

The Three Graces, Peter Paul Rubens 

I believe that because European artists throughout the centuries have been extolling the virtues of the inherent beauty in nature, and have been celebrated for doing so, there is a more open minded view of beauty in the European culture today. In my experience, travels and relationships, I have found that European girls and women do not have the confidence and self-esteem issues found in American society.

But for most of us growing up in America, to ignore culture norms is almost impossible. However, if our girls can understand the origin of the concept of beauty, perhaps it could help them better interpret our culture of social media imagery replete with impossible or unhealthy Photoshopped figures along with air-brushed cover girls. And for women who struggle with self-esteem issues that stem from high school teasing, understanding history's fluctuations of cultural attitudes and sensibilities could help us be more accepting of the beauty that our individuality brings to this world. 

Obviously edited to make the waist look smaller (see the "curved" wood door in the background).

It may seem strange for the owner of a shapewear company to write an article encouraging self-realization of beauty in our natural form. But the impetus for starting Bubbles Bodywear was the issue of self-esteem and my experience as a target of high school teasing. So I want nothing more than to help people feel better about themselves, because when we feel confident we have more courage to face the challenges of daily life.

I know that there are many (mostly men) who do not agree with women wearing padded panties, or accentuating curves artificially with bra padding or booty pads. To those people, I would say "walk a mile in my shoes" and then tell me again that you don't approve.

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