I’ve had this conversation a few times, but someone asked me again recently. It’s about female beauty, what American males find attractive. I’ve spoken with people in my department originally from Asia, because the ideas told to me by Koreans and Chinese differ so much from this country’s. (When I say “Asian” in this musing, I mean Chinese-Korean.) It’s relevant at least tangentially to the transcendentals. If I wanted to reach, I could muse on the design behind sexuality. After all, scientists don’t know the full meaning of the “pleasure moment”, as MSNBC summarizes. Even I have hormones, though that likelihood is pretty slim, isn’t it? Nevertheless, this is not about reaching or hoping, just about the topic.
From what I’ve been told, there’s a look that is dominant. The Asian aspiration is what I’ll label “pixie girl”. While the pixie costume with wings and curves and stockings can be enticing, that’s not what I mean. The pixie girl is very small, extremely thin, girlish in her looks. Clear, dolllike skin is very important, as is the smile. The clothes are short, not feminine as much as girlish and dollike: bright colors, capris, ruffled skirts. Maybe this Old Navy page shows the look best, particularly the animation. Even the “full” pants are short of the ankle, like someone growing, like a teenager. And that’s the pixie girl look – not fully developed, not confident. Perpetually sixteen, or eighteen if you’re worried about legalities.
It drives women to extravagence, to the perpetual pursuit of size zero. Thinner and smaller, constantly, almost fading away. I can’t stand it. The words that describe pixie girl are weak – youthful, naive, innocent, virginal, fragile. Perhaps they’re appropriate for women in male-dominant, hierarchical cultures. I will admit some appeal for innocence; after all, even if I marry, I may not kiss more than one woman. But there’s not much desire for immature youth. I don’t need a submissive, or someone fragile, for that doesn’t make a good partner. The pixie girl misses, or deliberately denies, the maturity that forms an attractive woman. I’m glad the American male standard has other beauties besides waif.
What do I mean by other beauties? “Bikini girl” is the opposite of pixie, yet still problematic. Also known as a pin-up girl, this women is extremely curvy, threatening to burst out of something formfitting. Again, don’t get me wrong; I am not against bikinis, and this journal is not afraid of sensuality. Part of the reason for my weight loss this year is to look less out of place around beaches. It just seems that the potential beauty has been overly distorted. Historically, the first “Bikini Girl” is Brigitte Bardot (a real girl, 19 in this photo). For most Americans, Marilyn Monroe is the classic. There are plenty of modern examples – just look at magazine covers at any newsstand. Yet like the pixie girl, this drives women to extravagence, to the perpetual pursuit of size “DD”. There are thousands upon thousands of American augmentations each year, and products that mechanically lift and frame and do other things, seemingly as complex as bridge-building. Brigitte Bardot was only moderately endowed, and even the classic Marilyn was not even a “D”. Like the pixie girl, this is another standard unrealistic for most women. It’s over-developed, not natural. Perpetually a airbrushed photo from a magazine.
But is this the fault of the people pursuing the goal? Partially, yes, but not fully. After all, much of beauty is fixed upon attracting the opposite gender; in this case, men. We men have failed. We’ve lost imagination. By that, I don’t mean dreams twinged with lust, or even dreams twinged with hope like Charlie Brown’s. Rather, I mean subtlety and grace. There are probably thousands of places on the Internet where one can see nude women; as several articles have pointed out, “adult entertainment” is usually one of the first industries into new technology, like the VCR and the Internet. The women are instinctually physically attractive. But that doesn’t engage the thoughtful portions of our brains. Maybe for some men those aren’t the powerful parts. For me, they are.
What is thoughtfully attractive? It’s when a women shows her figure, and her beauty, and leaves it to me to find desire. Part of that is knowing the figure, what flatters a particular lady best. There are pixie girls, and bikini girls, but not many. More power to them. For most women, the concept of beauty is elegance, confidence, and poise. Let me give two examples. I know a graduate student who is classically pretty – 5’5″, 112 or so pounds, size 2. Her look one day was the classical; small heels, black pants, and a fashionable peach sleeveless shirt. But the form is just right, to show the figure, and it exposes perhaps an inch of stomach when she moves. Usually nothing, but once in a while the navel, enough to see the healthy flatness and proper curves. Or someone I saw a few weeks ago. Probably a grad student, looked like late twenties, American, average height and typical weight – I’d guess size 6, maybe 4. She wore jeans, remarkable only for the proper fit, not so tight as to be constrictive, but not so loose as to miss the figure. And the shirt was a woman’s white dress shirt, but it was right. It ended at her waist, flaring out and accentuating her hips. Two buttons were open, not enough to see a bra, but enough to suggest that it could happen. Again, imagination. The woman wasn’t perfect physically, or even the best body I saw that day, but it’s something I’ve remembered a month later. Why? Because she thought, she cared, and it worked.
I’m never going to be a fashion designer, and despite my learned ability to judge women’s clothes sizes, not an expert am I. I probably don’t speak for most men. But perhaps I can bring imagination back to clothing. And if I move someone, anyone, away from unhealthy dieting and obsession, well then I’ve done goodness, and helped beauty, through truth – all parts of the transcendental trifecta.