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Waarden en aantrekkelijkheid

Voorkant Patzer 'Looks - Why they matter more than you ever imagined' Gordon L. PATZER
Looks - Why they matter more than you ever imagined
Amacom, 2008; 288 blzn.
ISBN-13: 978 08 1448 0540

[Weer een boek vol Amerikaanse waarden en normen.]

(2) Introduction - Looks, Lookism, and the Media

Waarom koos Melana niet de succesvolle handelaar met een doorsnee uiterlijk uit New York, maar wel de jonge ober met het uiterlijk van de Griekse god voor een huwelijk met iemand met wie ze "de rest van haar leven wilde doorbrengen" wilde doorbrengen?

"That’s because for a long time Americans, like people of most other cultures, have allowed what they see of a person to strongly influence what they feel and believe about that person. Almost from the moment of birth, each of us is judged—silently, unconsciously, and nearly instantly—on the basis of our height (or lack of it), our weight and bulk, the shape and symmetry of our facial features, the length and style of our hair, our mode of dress, our grooming—everything that goes into the mix of qualities known as ‘‘physical attractiveness.’’

Sometimes termed ‘‘lookism’’—treating people in ways biased by their perceived individual level of physical attractiveness—the ‘‘physical attractiveness (PA)’’ phenomenon has been studied in depth for decades by social scientists of many disciplines, including psychologists, sociologists, biologists, and anthropologists. They have produced a panoply of sometimes-contradictory research data. But while this subject continues to be studied, a fair appraisal of science’s collective conclusion is that in America, more than in most Western cultures, what you look like—or more important, how others perceive you—shapes your life in dozens of often subtle ways from cradle to grave.

As you will see in following chapters, PA affects the way nurses treat newborns in the same way that it shapes the manner in which parents act and react with their children. PA influences a child’s self-image and becomes a significant factor in how teachers evaluate, assist, and grade pupils from kindergarten to graduate school. It’s a key factor in finding and keeping mates and close friends, in choosing an occupation, in finding or keeping a job, and in defining the limits of an individual’s success in a chosen field."(3)

[Waarom meer in Amerika? Dit is trouwens al arrogantie: de Verenigde Staten van Amerika bedoelt Patzer.]

"Fueled by an explosion of media images that glorify youth and beauty, millions of Americans have turned their waking lives into endless quests for enhanced PA, often at the expense of their health. So powerful are these media images that in the twentieth century, once-rare conditions such as anorexia and bulimia are commonplace throughout the Western world. Literally millions of young people, mostly female, have become so obsessed in the pursuit of attaining a single dimension of PA—body weight—that they willingly endanger their lives by denying their bodies essential nutrition. Other millions exhaust their savings or incur huge debts to pay for one or more cosmetic surgery procedures, often risking their lives. Fed by ever-increasing demand, hucksters, charlatans, and criminals of every stripe prey on vulnerable people, taking their money and leaving a trail of death and disfigurement in their wake."(4)

[En let op: meteen gaan we van de VS naar de hele Westerse wereld over en praten we in termen van we:]

"PA also has a profound influence on the nature and reach of Western culture, including how we define role models, who governs us, what products we buy, and what services we consume. It is a component of the core values that we pass along to our children and of our choice of friends; in short, the PA phenomenon permeates Western society and makes a powerful difference in the lives of hundreds of millions of people."(5)

Het belang van aantrekkelijkheid speelde in alle tijden en jezelf mooi maken is dan ook inderdaad iets van alle tijden.

"At its root, PA may be the unconscious recognition that beauty serves to attract the opposite sex for the biological imperative of reproduction. Just as plants that use flowers to attract insects to pollinate them and animals to eat their fruit or otherwise spread their seeds are more successful in ensuring the survival of their species, nature commands us to notice the physical characteristics that tell us that a particular human is suitable for reproduction."(6)

[Daar gaan we weer. Als het puur natuur en evolutie zou zijn dan zou je mooi maken geen enkele zin hebben, want dan zouden we een neus hebben voor wie echt van nature aantrekkelijk is en wie zich alleen maar mooigemaakt heeft en zouden we de laatste afwijzen. Er wordt weer driftig gegrepen naar - meestal Amerikaanse - onderzoeken om dit te staven.]

"In virtually every culture, men find younger women more attractive than older ones, probably because females of our species are capable of reproduction for only a limited period."(7)

[Zou het misschien ook kunnen mannen graag naar jonge vrouwen kijken omdat jonge vrouwen gewoon ... aantrekkelijker zijn, gaver, mooier, energieker? zonder verdere reden? Puur om de schoonheid?]

"Women compete to attract men; however, men compete for power and dominance, thus to be more attractive to women."(7)

[Een voorbeeld van hoe gemakkelijk Patzer van allerlei waarden uitgaat.]

"Pursuit of greater PA has created a $160-billion-a-year global industry ranging from weight-loss preparations, cosmetics, skin and hair care, and perfumes to cosmetic surgery, health clubs, and hormone injections. Americans spend more money each year on beauty enhancements than they do on education."(7)

[Dat kan ik me van 'Amerikanen' heel erg goed voorstellen.]

(8) Chapter 1 - Older Than Civilization

Over Helena van Sparta / Troje en andere oordelen over schoonheid uit de Oudheid.

"To the ancient Hebrews and the Christians who followed in their monotheistic spiritual path, physical beauty was a reward from the Almighty, and its opposite was punishment."(11)

"Clusters of mollusk shells that site workers had discovered over the past decade were found to have been pierced by tools held by human hands, then strung on some sort of cord. In other words, they were not mere shells but necklaces—adornment. Definitively dated to 75,000 years ago, the forty-one tiny, orange-and-black beads are the oldest jewelry ever found, symbols of a prehistoric vanity that foreshadows the sort of baubles and bangles worn by women of every station in Helen of Troy’s time, no less than in our own. () But the beads, or necklaces, also suggest that even 75,000 years ago, women wanted to make a fashion statement, to stand out from the crowd. They wanted, in short, to catch a man’s eye."(12-13)

[Voorbeeld van bijzonder snel oordeel op basis van die stiekeme waarden en vooroordelen. Waarom zou de halsketting van een VROUW geweest moeten zijn? Dat weet je helemaal niet. Waarom zou het überhaupt een versiering moeten zijn en is het geen rituele halsketting voor iets? En is jezelf versieren - zoals kinderen bijvoorbeeld doen door een krans van bloemen te vlechten en op hun hoofd te zetten - hetzelfde als mooi willen zijn? je mooi willen maken? indruk willen maken door jezelf mooi te maken? Ik denk het niet.]

"How was it that just as many modern people take great pains with hair, makeup, and nails, primitive humans analogously felt the need to compete for sexual attention? The answer lies in the biology of sexual attraction. () Like birds, bees, and badgers, adult humans feel an unconscious desire to reproduce, thereby passing on the unique assortment of genetic material that makes each of us different. The biological purpose of beauty is to attract others of our species for sex. Sex, at least for humans, is usually enjoyable, but its biological purpose is not fun but reproduction. () If beauty attracts, a healthy, youthful appearance is attractive because it signifies reproductive capability. Men are attracted to younger women because their youth signifies this potential. Women’s attraction to slightly older men rests on the assumption that an older man may have more resources to offer her children, enhancing the possibility that they will survive long enough to reproduce themselves."(12-13)

"But is there an absolute standard by which human beauty can be measured?"(14)

Ja, vindt Patzig. Symmetrie naar de phi-ratio (de Gulden Snede) is één factor.

"Is there an objective standard for bodily beauty in both men and women? Ask a group of healthy young men what configuration of a woman’s body most attracts them and most would agree that the hourglass figure—a slender waist separating large breasts from generous hips—would fill the bill. And ask a similar number of healthy young women about male bodies and most will agree that the holy trinity is big, balanced (symmetrical), and properly built with a waist-to-hip ratio of about 0.9, which is to say, a hip circumference only slightly larger than waist diameter.7 According to anthropologist Laura Betzig, like all animals, we humans are programmed to recognize the shape of health: Large, symmetrical, and proportioned humans are usually healthier than those with other shapes."(16)

[Dus alle Aziatische mannen en vrouwen kunnen wel inpakken ... Wat een ontzettend Amerikaanse onzin. En vroegen we dit aan groepen Amerikaanse mannen en vrouwen? Geen wonder dan, want die herhalen wat in de media naar voren gebracht wordt. En wat we ZEGGEN dat we aantrekkelijk vinden is nog niet waar we ons in onze keuzes voor mannen of vrouwen door laten leiden.]

"Therefore, if men subconsciously seek sexual partners with whom they are most likely to reproduce, the preference for big-busted, large-hipped women has probably evolved over thousands of generations."(17)

"When film directors cast such shapely sirens as Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, and Sophia Loren, millions of men paid to watch them on the screen. For the same reason, current male moviegoers and television watchers eagerly watch the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Brook, and Salma Hayek.

But not every woman can be big busted and narrow waisted, and so nature has developed another strategy to help women attract mates."(17-18)

[Vandaar versiering, geurtjes, mooie kleren, en zo verder.]

(22) Chapter 2 - Pass the Genes, Please: How Looks Drive Dating, Courtship, and Marriage

"Regardless of how involved with one’s own appearance a person is, and despite frequent lip service to such factors as personality, intelligence, a sense of humor, and shared interests, a multitude of studies show that PA is by far the most important factor in evaluating both prospective mates and prospective dates."(32)

"In the previous chapter we saw that some standards of feminine and masculine appearance are accepted by nearly everyone in our culture as idealizing physical attractiveness. It is obvious, however, that few people ever attain such perfection or anything close to it. For most of us, PA is less definable, a mixture of what our eyes tell us and what our brain computes. But many aspects of PA have been studied, and it is now possible to say, with some precision, that when it comes to selecting a mate, certain elements of appearance usually attract men to women and vice versa."(33)

[En nu zal wel de bekende opsomming volgen.]

"Most average Joes will shake their heads knowingly. They’ve heard a lot of women say that they wish they could date kind, sensitive men—but when actually given that choice, they reject them in favor of a handsome devil with good clothes and a new car. In other words, nice guys always finish last. But is it really so?"(37)

"So handsome jerks get to sow a lot of wild oats, but nice guys get married, have children, and live happily ever after. Well, no. Researchers Geoffrey C. Urbaniak of Wesleyan University and Peter R. Kilmann of the University of South Carolina also noted a disconnect between what women report in research studies and what they actually do in real life."(39)

"In other words, despite expressed preferences, many women who participated in this and other such studies actually wanted nice guys only as friends or long-term boyfriends, but preferred ‘‘bad boys’’—those more physically attractive and willing to manipulate women into sexual activity—as sexual partners."(39)

"In a romantic relationship, an extremely attractive person may exert power over his or her less-attractive partner by threatening to end the relationship. Those who are endowed with high PA sometimes seek less attractive mates precisely in order to exert that power. Less attractive people may attract more attractive mates by yielding to their whims. While such relationships may not endure, they frequently persist long enough to allow reproduction. Conversely, less attractive people may avoid relationships with more attractive mates because they fear just such an outcome."(41)

(45) Chapter 3 - As the Twig Is Bent: How Physical Attractiveness Affects Family Dynamics

"Inevitably, that raises a question: If parents have more than one child to raise, will they invest time and effort equally in all of them? Or do mothers devote more attention and family resources to those who would seem to have the best chance of surviving into maturity, finding a strong mate, and passing along their genes—which, of course, include those of their parents—to the next generation?

Social scientists have shown that parents indeed invest differently in each child, according to their perceived fitness, quality, reproductive potential, and not least, their physical attractiveness. To make sure that the child or children most likely to reproduce survive into adulthood, parents devote more familial resources and personal energy to those siblings who are more attractive. Since PA is an indication of quality and overall health, parents—especially mothers—give their most attractive children better treatment than less attractive offspring by offering more and better attention."(47)

"The researchers also sought to find out if nursing students’ perceptions of infant attractiveness were affected by the wealth and social status of a baby’s parents, by the infant’s gender and health at birth, and by the student’s individual experience in the nursing field. After being shown photos of infants coded for physical attractiveness, the nursing students were asked to indicate how much time during a normal eight-hour shift they would spend with the infant in the photo and then with each of two other infants who were not described at all. The results: Nurses perceived an infant’s PA in relation to its gender and its health at birth."(48)

[Al die onderzoeken waarbij ondervraagden foto's voorgelegd krijgen moeten we wantrouwen. Foto's van mensen zijn geen echte mensen. Een foto met iemand die gezien wordt als aantrekkelijk, wat zegt dat in werkelijkheid? Een foto geeft vrijwel uitsluitend uiterelijke kenmerken, maar geen beweging, stem, of gedrag die in de werkelijkheid bepalend zijn voor wat we werkelijk doen en voelen bij iemand. Daarnaast moeten we al die waarderingen van foto's eveneens wantrouwen. De auteur zegt het zelf al. Het zijn percepties. Maar die komen niet zo maar uit de lucht vallen. Zo lang ik niet uitgesloten zie dat die percepties door de media en de maatschappij beínvloed worden zie ik geen objectief onderzoek. Het zijn maar meningen van mensen die voor het grootste deel volledig meedeinen met wat de media te melden hebben, zeker in de kritiekloze en conformistische wereld van de VS. En het zijn voor het grootste deel ook nog Ameerikaanse onderzoeken.

Ik vind het allemaal zo aanvechtbaar. En al helemaal de stelling dat PA een samenhang heeft met gezondheid en daarmee met de gezondheid van toekomstige generaties in de evolutie. Ik zie te weinig onderzoeken langskomen die dit soort zaken proberen te falsifiëren. Reductionisme lijkt niet gezien te worden. Wanneer een baby een grotere voorkeur heeft voor aantrekkelijke gezichten gemeten als 'langer kijken' wordt niet stilgestaan bij het zelfvertrouwen dat mooie mensen nu eenmaal vaker hebben, ik bedoel: misschien voelen de babies de rust en de onrust bij de mensen die hun vasthouden en reageren ze daar op. Maar het wordt niet eens bedacht.]

"So mothers spend more and better time with their better-looking offspring, nurses give more attention and nurturing to the cuter babies on their ward, and kids prefer more attractive playmates to less attractive ones, whether they are previously acquainted with each other or not. Are these the only childhood advantages for good-looking children?"(50)

"Such stories as Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and Snow White are filled with messages about beauty and evil. Beauty, these stories tell children, is inherently good and merits reward, while ugly people are wicked, evil, and mean."(53)

[Wat een onzin. Dat ligt wel wat genuanceerder.]

"Grauerholz concurs. For children too young to read, fix the stories, she says. Make Cinderella a boy, or alter the story’s ending so that she decides there’s too much of a downside to hooking up with a handsome prince; with her newly minted self-esteem, she knows how to live happily ever after by moving out of her stepmother’s house and taking charge of her own life."(54)

[Typisch.]

"But aren’t PA messages in fairy tales different from the messages received from television, movies, books, and other popular media? Robin Goodman, a psychologist at New York University’s Child Study Center, thinks not. ‘‘Media advertising, pop stars, TV, peer interaction—there are so many things’’ that all reinforce PA and other stereotypes. But, as Goodman points out, not every message in every fairy tale example is negative. In Beauty and the Beast, the heroine learns to love the Beast for who he is, not what he looks like."(54-55)

[Precies. Let op zinnen als deze:]

"And, most disturbing to many people, teens such as Santi ‘‘are being pressured to be thin, not only from the magazines and television, but most of all, from their family and friends.’’"(55)

[Dat is natuurlijk geen tegenstelling. Familie en vrienden zijn immers op hun beurt weer beïnvloed door de media. Het boek zit vol met dit soort bedenkelijke en vage stellingen.]

(57) Chapter 4 - Readin’, ’Ritin’, ’Rithmetic, ’n’ Ridicule

"Just like teachers, most expect cuter kids to perform better than their less attractive classmates."(58)

"So, what’s wrong with teachers positively influencing a student’s achievement by raising expectations of performance? In itself, nothing. But when it comes to physical attractiveness, the Pygmalion phenomenon has an ugly downside: discrimination against those with less PA. Sometimes termed ‘‘lookism,’’ it exerts a corrosive effect on self-esteem that can adversely affect children for the rest of their often unhappy lives."(60-61)

[Nog zo'n zin:]

"—except that even when attractive and unattractive students earn identical records, teachers will still believe that in the future, attractive students will do better than unattractive students."(61)

[Maar dat is logisch gezien de maatschappelijke vooroordelen over uiterlijk die er ook werkelijk toe leiden dat mooie mensen meer succes hebben. Je kunt dit op zo veel manieren opvatten.]

"Are there other factors that influence children’s formulation of concepts of what is physically attractive and what is not? According to the eminent social psychology pioneer Albert Bandura, widely known as the ‘‘Father of the Cognitive Theory,’’ social behaviors are learned through observing and imitating the behaviors that children observe most frequently: that of parents, teachers, and, nowadays, television programs. If a child perceives that the physically attractive are associated with goodness and treated better than the unattractive, the child will adopt this behavior as his own. And so it goes, from one gen- eration to the next."(64)

[Natuurlijk is dat zo.]

"But PE programs that actually support those who need it most or children with special physical needs are rarely available in America’s public schools anymore. Paradoxically, while educators routinely preach the gospel of fitness and lifelong activity, in practice they often discriminate against the most needy youngsters—the overweight and sedentary. Most schools tailor PE programs to support the most physically gifted students; physical education courses are too often merely feeder systems for interscholastic athletics. And yet it is precisely in physical education classes where individual physiques emerge from camouflaging clothing and body issues become most vexing to the overweight and less attractive of both genders. Many PE departments serve no student’s needs quite so well as they do in providing employment opportunities to coaches."(70)

[Het grootste probleem wordt in alle adviezen en zo verder niet eens genoemd: het competitie-karakter van de samenleving in de VS. Kijk naar alle films etc., het is zo duidelijk dat de druk daar om de beste te zijn en bij de besten (het rijkste, het meest succesvol, het mooiste) te horen zo groot is dat mensen er alles voor over hebben om het zo te maken. Kijk naar 'Gossip Girl'. Zo lang je in winners en verliezers blijft denken is er geen oplossing.]

"We’ve seen that teachers invest the most effort in good-looking pupils, that students pick up on adult behavior and seek friendships with their cuter classmate—thereby creating schoolwide popularity hierarchies based on PA—and that those with the misfortune to be born less attractive are saddled with heavier burdens in competing for an education."(71)

(73) Chapter 5 - The Job Is Looking Good

[Het bekende verhaal: mooie mensen worden eerder aangenomen, verdienen meer, en zo verder.]

"So you’re good-looking, and just as your exceptional looks have opened many doors for you, you get this job—even though you were no better prepared for it than other candidates. If you keep your new job, you can expect a bigger salary and faster promotions than the average worker here. If you hope one day to rise to the top of your new company, you’ve got a good shot—but if you screw up, you can also expect to be treated more harshly than your fellow employees."(89)

(90) Chapter 6 - Rendering Judgment: How Looks Affect Courtroom Results

[Ligt ook voor de hand. Als mensen vooroordelen hebben over uiterlijk hebben ze ze overal natuurlijk.]

(109) Chapter 7 - Physiognomy and Public Service

[Idem. Vooral voorbeelden van presidents- en andere verkiezingen in de VS. Nou, als het ergens om uiterlijk gaat en niet om inhoud dan is het daar wel.]

(125) Chapter 8 - Seeing Is Believing

"In postindustrial societies, however, people of every age—but especially the young—get most of their information about the world from television. And if there is one rule governing media images that everyone agrees upon, it is that sex sells. No group is more aware of this fact than the advertising community. Those who create advertising, those who sell it, those who buy broadcast time or printed-page space to sell their products, services, or ideas, as well as political operatives, media consultants, psychologists, and educators—all are well aware that sexual images are important message enhancers. Others, however, including many in academia, are concerned that such advertising places inappropriate pressure on people to focus on their appearance."(127)

[OMG, 'the advertising community'. Ja, echt. Die wereld is voor een groot deel schuldig aan de verkeerde beeldvorming over uiterlijk. Maar maakt deel uit van het kapitaistisch systeem waarin het gaat om winst te maken en niet om mensen gelukkig te maken.]

"Pope sees the increasing muscularity of toy action figures as an alarming trend that sets unrealistic ideals for boys in much the same way that Barbie dolls are suspected of providing unrealistic ideals of thinness to preadolescent girls."(128)

[En let weer op de zinnen - ouders worden zo maar moeders:]

"When parents do allow their children to watch television, they should watch with them and afterward dis- cuss the program’s hidden messages.(...)

As it happens, that’s pretty good advice for all mothers, not just those with dark-skinned vision, they should watch children."(132)

[Het is een zinloos advies, zeker in de VS waarin veel 'moeders' / 'ouders' twee of drie banen hebben om het hoofd boven water te kunnen houden. Alsof ouders de tijd hebben om dit soort dingen te doen. Hij gaat er blijkbaar ook van uit dat moeder niet werkt, maar uitsluitend bezig is met huishouden en opvoeden.]

"In short, according to the authors of ‘‘The Real Truth About Beauty,’’ women around the world would like to be considered beautiful no matter their shape, color, size, or age. Women, few of whom think of themselves as physically attractive, insist that PA is only one dimension of beauty, and that they should be valued for the beautiful qualities of their other dimensions. They want to enjoy the benefits of being considered beautiful and resent the media for narrowing beauty’s definition to that of physical attractiveness.

There are, in fact, many things that the media could do to broaden its portrayal of beauty stereotypes. But whether the gatekeepers who have the power to do so will agree remains in doubt. Beauty’s less visual qualities are far more difficult to present on page or screen."(146)

"But why not give audiences pictures of attractive people on television? What’s the harm in that?. When magazines or newspapers sell more advertising than expected, they can add pages and balance commercial pages with additional editorial content. When there is more or more important news to be reported, a newspaper can add pages or put out a special edition."(153)

[Over oppervlakkig gesproken ...]

"So what’s wrong with showing pretty faces on television? In itself, nothing. But the Founding Fathers did not grant the rights that the First Amendment confers on the media in order that they stupefy the public with mindless stories about the PA-blessed."(156)

[Maar nog steeds oppervlakkig ...]

"I was left to wonder, like others before me, if most television news executives believe that audiences prefer watching good-looking people to learning important facts, and if the best way to start a news broadcast is not with some unpleasant reality but with pictures of an unforgettable face or a sexy figure. I wonder no more. Not long ago Les Moonves, who is president and CEO of CBS and simultaneously shares the same duties at CBS’s parent corporation, Viacom, made it clear that he makes no distinction between news and entertainment programming."(156-157)

(158) Chapter 9 - The Dark Side of Physical Attractiveness

""Anorexia, bulimia, and other beautifully unhealthy behavior""(158)

[Zo'n 'leuke' ondertitel alleen al. Gaat ook over makeover-programma's.]

(175) Chapter 10 - What Price for Good Looks?

[Gaat over de verborgen kosten van esthetische correcties.]

"The rise of eating disorders and the increase in expressions of body dissatisfaction are not the only indicators of ways that the media’s relentless emphasis on physical attractiveness has shaped American beauty values. America’s growing obsession with beauty has transformed the cosmetic surgery industry. Only a few years ago a tiny cadre of elite surgeons performed a relatively small number of often secretive and expensive operations for the benefit of the horribly disfigured or to indulge the wealthy. Now tens of thousands of doctors with a variety of medical specialties dispense an astonishing panoply of beauty-enhancing procedures eagerly sought by middle-class Americans of every age."(175)

"There is little stigma attached to improving one’s looks with a doctor’s assistance these days, and now that cosmetic surgery has become more of a spending priority, small, specialized clinics have sprung up around the country. Some of these cosmetic surgery centers attract a steady stream of patients by advertising on cable television; many even offer financing. And the great majority of patients who avail themselves of such services are pleased with the results. But many who have blithely plunked down several thousand bucks for a tummy tuck, boob job, or facelift rue the day they went under the knife."(185)

[Vele voorbeelden van onzinnige en gevaarlijke plastische chirurgie. Maar de analyse blijft bijna hangen in de voorbeelden. Ik zou graag een systematische kritiek zien op de medische wereld, al die artsen in de VS die eindeloos veel geld verdienen met die onzin. Die ontbreekt. Ook zou een diepere kritiek op de neigingen om zo mooi te worden als de media laten zien wel op zijn plaats zijn. Maar deze auteur wil ongetwijfeld weer eens niet moraliseren.]

(203) Chapter 11 - The Big Business of Beauty

[Alsof dat al niet uitgebreid duidelijk is geworden. Zal wel veel herhaling bevatten.]

"There were many other disfigured victims of the war, including thousands of American soldiers, and many of them also required plastic surgeons. When the supply of war-related cases began to thin, skills and techniques developed by Japanese and American surgeons were then redirected from therapeutic treatment to enhancing and redefining the nature of beauty.

During the U.S. occupation of Japan, for example, doctors injected young women’s breasts with industrial-strength transformer coolant in a primitive and often hazardous attempt to meet the size expectations of American GIs. By the 1960s, topless showgirls in Las Vegas were having liquid silicone pumped into their breasts. By the seventies and eighties, silicone was packaged in gel form and promoted as a cure, as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons so delicately put it, for small breasts, which were defined as ‘‘deformities’’ and ‘‘a disease.’’"(206)

"All this advertising worked: Cosmetic surgery is now a $20 billion business in America."(208)

"In other words, cosmetic surgery is big business. This kind of medicine is no longer about building a relationship of trust between a physician and a patient and learning what’s best for the patient. In fact, a cosmetic surgery center today seems more like a restaurant that needs to turn tables over several times each meal to maximize profit. It’s about moving a preferably endless line of patients through the company’s operating suites as quickly as possible and marketing to those patients additional complementary services, such as skin care and nutrition counseling, as part of a total patient experience. It’s about making more and more money."(2009)

"The astonishing growth of the beauty industry has been fueled by synergy between the enormous reach and power of the media and entertainment industries combined with the PA phenomenon with its own strengths and dimensions. Each feeds the other: Advertising in magazines and on television depicts beautiful people living glamorous lifestyles, all in an effort to sell consumers goods and services of every sort. Some of the revenues thus generated underwrite the entertainment industry by paying for television shows and movies. Other ad money provides profit margins for publications. In turn, all of this together promulgates the power and persuasiveness of PA.

Meanwhile, entertainment promotes the careers and peddles the products—music CDs, movie tickets, DVDs, television programs, clothing lines, merchandise of every ilk—of beautiful, glamorous celebrities. These worthies, in turn, appear in advertising to hawk consumer products. In our celebrity-worshipping culture, a youthful appearance is held up as the ideal. Media messages promote the idea that science and technology will allow us to retain our youth, our beauty. Science and technology did not create our fascination with beauty and youth, but they have helped to exaggerate our fear of growing old and of accepting that life is irreversible: Eventually, everyone’s body runs down."(214-215)

"We are genetically programmed to feel and respond to the lures of the physically attractive. We want to look more beautiful. We want to be around better-looking people, watch beautiful people on glowing screens, read about the lives of beautiful people. And yet, even as more and more people spend more and more money on beauty products, as more and more people risk their lives and health to undergo more and more aesthetic surgeries, or struggle to overcome distorted impressions of their own PA inadequacies, it is plain that few people actually feel better about their own PA."(215)

(217) Epilogue - Rising Above the Effects of Lookism

"PA is caused partly by nature and partly by nurture, and no simple and easy solution exists to change this reality. It results from a complicated synergy of drives by individuals and influences by our society. Popular culture today often admires extreme makeovers that alter the looks of an individual, but our culture itself could benefit from an extreme makeover of other sorts; otherwise the proverbial playing field of life will never be level for individuals of higher and lower PA."(218)

"Evolutionary theory seems to predict eventual disappearance of less than high PA, which would resolve lookism. Dynamics of natural selection en route to survival of the fittest explains this theoretical proposition. It begins with notions that people who possess higher PA also possess greater power to attract more opportunities to produce more offspring than their counterparts. Hypothetically, over zillions of years, fewer and fewer people of lesser PA would be born in this scenario until only people of greater PA would be producing offspring."(218)

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