Monday, October 7, 2013

In order to be beautiful cease all efforts to improve yourself


I am not writing about Gwyneth again but this story starts with her. Simon Doonan (perhaps you’ll recall his hilarious book Gay Men Don’t Get Fat) took issue with People calling Gwyneth the most beautiful woman in the world or “MBWITW” and it’s not because he doesn’t think she’s beautiful. Rather, Doonan suggests, via Slate,  that efforts to improve your looks actually detract from beauty.
Her strenuous efforts to achieve perfection—thrashing around a gym morning noon and night with Tracy Anderson and eating nothing but plankton and kale juice—leave us all shrieking, “What would she look like if you took away her battery of Pilates gurus and aura cleansers?
I’ll answer Doonan’s question, she’d still look great. Or let’s ask Doonan how he’d look without a shower, haircut or the great looks he puts together for Barney’s. Perhaps when women discuss their regimes, something I applaud, it takes away from the mystique but even if it doesn’t involve kale or exercise, most women have beauty rituals. Even Liz Taylor and Catherine Deneuve who Doonan feel were worthy of MBWITH status didn’t roll out of bed looking like that, please.

I’d argue that in order to be crowned the most beautiful woman in the world, you should be living your life full-throttle rather than tormenting yourself with some deranged, ascetic self-maintenance regimen. Non?
Part of me can see where Doonan is going with this. There is nothing more beautiful that someone, seemingly carefree, enjoying their life. However, why is it assumed that exercise involves torment? Personally, I feel more deranged when I’m off my “regimen” than on it. Is Doonan talking about his image of an ideal woman? It doesn’t seem he’s talking about real women, that’s for sure.

And Doonan doesn’t stop, for someone who feels beauty should be effortless, he sure has a lot of prerequisites. After fashion week he remarked:
But the most beautiful woman in the world should also have a cheeky demeanor and a decent rack. Sadly, these two attributes were in short supply.
The Slate article closes with Doonan’s request for entries into his MBWITW contest. I wish I was capable of illustration because the woman Doonan describes is a cartoon character with a rack and a smile, living her life full throttle. She’s not just beautiful but “the most beautiful” and achieving this status is effortless. She’s accepting the “pat on the head” and “goody bag” Doonan is offering as MBWITW.  I don’t know about you but all of this makes me want to go out for a run and if that makes me ugly and ascetic- awesome.
What do you think makes a woman beautiful? Why do you think exercise and food regimes, to the uninitiated, seem torturous? Do you think most women, even if they don't discuss it, have beauty or food systems?

16 comments:

  1. I agree that Simon's remarks seem a little over the top (but I think that's his schtick) - he seems to think that the title belongs to someone who is beautiful and thin but just rolls out of bed looking that way and puts no effort into it. That said, from what I've read about Gwynneth, she seems a little crazy and I see where he's coming from. If you take away her crazy diet scheme (and I'm all about healthy eating but she does seem pretty crazy in what she eats), and her super expensive trainers, I wonder how she would fare. Maybe she would exercise like the rest of us, with a regular old gym membership or a bike ride outdoors, but maybe not. It's "easier" to exercise when you have a trainer to be accountable to.


    I don't think there's anything wrong with exercising a lot or turning down certain foods at a party because they're unhealthy. I do it all the time. I schedule stuff around my gym time and people shake their heads at that, but I don't care. I'm also not quite up to Gwynneth level - if I had her money I'd be right there with her on the fancy trainers, but she can keep her diet. That just seems too crazy.

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  2. I think one quality that makes a woman beautiful is her passion for something and trying a little harder each day to achieve that goal. It can be a goal to feel happy and positive everyday and the way to achieve that may be doing things she loves to do, such as exercising and eating well. For all those motivated women who follow an exercise and food regime, I applaud you for this passion and motivation and are actively doing something to reach your goals, because not everyone has that. Personally, I think exercising to release stress and eating healthy is my definition of enjoying my life. I think not exercising and watching what I eat would be torturous for me. There is more to following exercise and food regimes than just trying to "look good." It's about feeling good both in and out. I am curious- would this apply to the most beautiful man in the world as well? Should the MBMITH be rolling out of bed with a six pack and bulging biceps?

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  3. It's such a double standard and sexist. Men are allowed to pump iron and spend hours exercising but women should be that way naturally? Love the MBMITW, my criteria would be someone who likes to laugh and smile, someone who doesn't take themselves too seriously or brag someone fit and fun and you know what? Many men would meet that criteria so there doesn't have to be a "most". Passion is very beautiful too J- you're so right.

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  4. I get his schtick and he can almost get away with it but when you break it down and add it up- yes one thing to say beauty is effortless or should be and another to say should be effortless with a big rack and enjoying life blah blah. I don't know why everyone gives people with "expensive trainers" or chefs a hard time. Yes, not in most of our budgets but if it's something most of us would do if we could..is it so bad?

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  5. Ugh this guy is so annoying. Silly comments like these that cause women to waste so much time and energy in the pursuit of physical perfection. I am all for being healthy and feeling good by clean eating and exercise, but it gets to a point where women are always chasing the unattainable ideal. I feel like this is especially problematic in New York where it seems like there are beautiful people everywhere! I noticed that I sometimes fall into the trap of being too obsessed with my diet, which can make eating out at unfamiliar places stressful for me. I frequently remind myself that my value is not based on how I look even though society has taught me otherwise growing up.

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  6. unattainable and perfection are icky/should never be part of any plan or goal and NYC is perfect-oriented. However, I don't think aspiring not to value looks may be unrealistic too. It's so tricky. Hope you're well Kathy, miss your blog.

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  7. I once saw a picture of Kim K. and she had zero make up on and looked 100 X better than she does all made up. Maybe I think this because I am too lazy / incapable of wearing make up? Not sure.


    In any case I think this guy is a moron. Gwyneth can do no wrong in my book. Love her.

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  8. Jess @ Keeping It Real FoodOctober 7, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    I went on an awful date recently where the guy detailed exactly what female grooming habits he deemed acceptable. When I told him I refused to shave my arms, he said, "How about Nair?" Please! I wish that was the worst of the conversation.


    I think the most important factor in being/appearing beautiful is feeling good on the inside. A guy with an attitude like that is gonna have a hard time perceiving any woman as beautiful if he makes a lady feel both angry and inadequate. It's too bad he drunkenly knocked over my drink before I had a chance to throw it in his face.

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  9. Very thought provoking. I mean, I see his point, not everyone has the luxury of being able to do yoga in their home with an instructor, eat kale juice and go to saunas every day, BUT, like you said, even if she didn't do that, she'd still be freaking gorgeous! And, I agree, every women has a regimen of their own (even if they don't think they have one, they do) and that's not what makes them "beautiful".
    On another note, just scrolled down to your last post....kimchi chips!?! I must find those! I love that brand too.

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  10. Gina- I don't know if he's even saying not everyone can do the services she does (even though they/we sure can't) I think he's saying it's downright unappealing to do so. And I agree regimens/rituals do not make or break beauty. Ah kimchi chips haven't had them since we sampled but I'm dreaming of them.

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  11. I think a guy outlining his "likes" is as bad as the female talking about marriage/kids right away. Sorry I'm laughing about Nair- what guy knows "nair"?

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  12. I think natural or primped can look good (not in the case of Kim K and I find it hard to believe she is ever make up free). Interesting point though, maybe we look for what we deem possible. If Doonan doesn't exercise- exercise is out etc?

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  13. Tricky question...it's important to take care of yourself by eating right and working out...but beauty is something on the inside. When you are happy it shows...when your positive it shows...when you live with your heart open it shows. Sorry...I don't mean to ramble on ... :)

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  14. and I did mean you're :)

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  15. first, love your rambling. Second- beauty is about more than looks- love your criteria. If we are happy and positive and have an open heart is juicing and exercising ok?

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  16. Jess @ Keeping It Real FoodOctober 9, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    You raise a very good point about the Nair thing...I guess this dude really did his hair removal homework? I'm not sure I want to know!

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