Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Who Defines Beauty?

I was directed to this Huffington Post article by way of Tomiko Frasier Hines (@GoddessTomiko) on Twitter. In it, it summarizes Aflonbladet's article coverage H&M's confession that they use computer-generated bodies and attach the heads of actual model's in some of their e-commerce print ads.

H&M states in their defense that they do this to "show off the clothes", and so that shoppers will not be distracted by the "real bodies" of the models. (???) Whatever that means. Aflonbladet counters by saying that this is not the case, and that H&M is REALLY doing this because they are not satisfied with the bodies of the models that "comes through its doors".

As a result, many people are in an uproar about this discovery and are insisting that petitions be signed, boycotts be created, and calls be made. And me....you know what? No........No, No, No. I am tired of it. My thinking is this....What methods did Jesus take when preaching and teaching throughout his life? Did he call up churches and say, "This isn't right!! I demand that you stop disrespecting me, NOW!"? Did he boycott the people, and sit at home -or- retreat to a people who would be willing to listen?

Now, I didn't use that example to turn this post into religious Hoop-La, but I used it to say this: I believe that the greatest way to instill thoughts and mindsets into a set of people is by showing, illustrating, walking out, the very thing that is being thrusted into the pit with class, high-moral standards, beauty, love, and all that other stuff right in-front of their faces. Make them know that it IS and CAN BE beautiful.

Take natural hair, for instance. A few years back, the MAJORITY of black women (admit it!) as well as the rest of the world, thought that "nappy", "kinky", "natural" (*wince*) hair was absolutely abysmal. I remember the jokes that I used to receive at school (and at home, and at church, and at ......) when my "nappy", "kinky", "natural", hair would start to show its face at the roots of my relaxed strands. They would joke by putting their fingers in my hair, snatching it back, and say "Ouch! Yo nappy hair cut me!". At church, the grown folk would throw a heavy *side-eye* to me when I came to little girls who had a head full of plump, juicy, twists and all of its frizziness that went along with it. They would also throw an even STRONGER *side-eye* to the grown woman who had decided that she must quit the relaxer because her hair was falling out.

And now......look around. People are (*gasp*)....admiring the beauty of natural hair. The nappy, the kinky, the curly, the frizzing, the shrinky, the loose, the TWA, the mid-back length, and all of the above. They receive praises from women of color, women of no-color, men to and fro, and most of all....they receive praise from the children (they are the honest of them all). And why do you think that is? Why is there an increasing number of inhabitants of this Earth that are coming to appreciate the splendor and beauty, diversity and "nappy", "kinky", "curly", natural hair? Because there was a group of naturals who ALWAYS thought it was beautiful and had NO problem showing the world that it COULD BE. A few turned into several, and several turned into alot, and alot turned into a community, and a community turned into......us. It just goes to show that the mind of ONE can change a thousand.

Will it be overnight? Nope. Are we, as natural women, at the point that EVERYONE has accepted the beauty in all textures, and EVERYONE has said that all women should be natural because 1) It's what grows out of their head and 2)It's beautiful because it was made especially for them? No. We are not there. Yet. I'm optimistic :-)

I feel as if it goes the same way with this whole.......fake bodies/real heads issue. We all know that the issue of body image is a HUGE issue not just within America, but the world. It transcends gender and race. Have we come a long way? Yes. There are plus-sized model divisions of almost ALL major modeling agencies. There are plus-sized stores made for the heavier female -and- there are MANY top-notch fashion designers who are adding plus-sized options to their collections.

Now, I know that isn't necessarily the issue at hand with this article. The issue with this article is that these women aren't even plus-sized. They are, actually, under the average weight of the majority of women. That's the sad part. How do we go about changing that type of mind-set???? I'm actually curious to know WHY exactly, they chose not to use the real bodies. Was it that they felt that the model bodies were to thin? Or too big? That would change the path that I'm about to head in.

But at the end of the day? It starts at home. And instilling values of self-worth and being able to see the beauty in others, regardless of their skin-color, gender, weight, moles, etc. Those people who work at H&M, and thought that the "real" bodies would somehow "distract" the shoppers from the clothes, for some reason.....that is a mind-set. A mind-set that does NOT think that the bodies of those models were not "attractive" enough to sell their clothes (that is why they use "beautiful", "shapely" models, no?), is also a mind-set that cannot appreciate, instead, the benefits of the certain attributes of those models that would sell those clothes in a heartbeat. We have to instill in our children that they should be able to see the beauty in, first, themselves, and then to everyone else around them. Beauty and splendor comes in all different shapes, colors, weights, hair, etc. When that is instilled into people, from childhood to adulthood, through the reinforcement of their peers, it will stick with them.

Will it happen overnight? No. But that one child who has been reared to appreciate beauty in all of its facets, will in-turn influence another. They will become a small group, and that few will turn into several, and that several will turn into alot, and alot will turn into a community, and that community will turn into....us. The mind of one, can change a thousand.

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