Or so Calvin Klein opined on HBO’s documentary, “About Face: Supermodels, Then and Now.”
Supermodel, Pat Cleveland, agreed:
I have seen so many girls come and go because they had nothing going on inside.
Maybe that’s why they were supermodels.
Or maybe that’s why they survived being supermodels.
The cover girls had plenty to contend with: the temptation of ego-inflation amid fawning and primping and everyone saying they’re so great because they’re so beautiful. Or, fearing they could never live up to the hype. Anorexia, bulimia… Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll…
The supermodel’s life was full of highs and lows.
Jerry Hall expounded, “Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol. We met all these amazing people. It was about making this whole world that you would enter into.”
Pat Cleveland relished the memory:
I was a liberated woman in those days. I had the pill, I had the clothes, I had the place to go. We didn’t know who we were with. The girls with the boys and the boys with the boys. Just get with the best-looking thing you can find! And there were a lot of good-looking people in the modeling business.
Some people got lost in that….
Drugs, anorexia… AIDS. “AIDS was like a fire that went straight through the heart of the business,” Paulina Porizkova recalled. “Is my friend so thin because she’s smoking too much or partying too much, or is it AIDS?”
In Pat Cleveland’s eyes, “Everyone was dressing in black and they started disappearing and I knew it was the end of a time.”
I’m not sure why the supermodels who show up in “About Face” came out alive and mostly well. But I was struck by how many had created space between “who they are” and “what they projected” in those super images.
Isabella Rossellini remarked that, “I understood it was an image. It wasn’t me.” Paulina Porizkova, Pat Cleveland and China Machado echoed the theme. Kim Alexis came to see that beauty didn’t make her happy – family did. And Carol Alt remained grounded throughout:
At my first job the editor walked in and said, “Who cuts your hair? Your eyebrows look like shit. And you’re too big for our clothes.” But I knew who I was so it didn’t hurt me. After that it changed for me a little bit but I still knew who I was. I’m a fireman’s daughter from Long Island. And that’ll never change.
When Cheryl Tiegs finished college her agent told her that the key to beauty was “always educating yourself. Always learning something new, always doing something new, having something to talk about. And I think that’s how one ages beautifully.”
Pat Cleveland talked of making people appreciate what you’re wearing by being alive in it:
On the runway it’s as though I’m lifting off the ground. I want to hear drums playing and express all that rhythmy feeling in your soul. It’s almost orgasmic.
Dayle Haddon thought other models were more beautiful than she was, so she brought more than what she looked like.
Through a picture I felt like I could communicate. That’s where beauty lies. How do you translate your experiences – good or bad – into something that is meaningful to yourself and to others?
It was hard work, especially in the South. We were in this Greyhound bus and stopped to go to the bathroom and they said, “You black girls can’t go in there,” except for me because I was only 1/8 black so I didn’t look black, but everyone else did. And then these angry guys came toward the bus with sticks and the bus driver says, “We’ve got to get out of here!” but he couldn’t get the bus started to get away, and the men started banging on the bus and tried to turn it over, and it was very frightening.
Others developed an attitude to protect themselves. China Machado exhibited the unique walk she used to look empowered and intimidating: commanding, with arched back, wide gestures, and head held high – in an effort to avoid sexual harassment.
Most interestingly, some could see their beauty only after living, surviving, and gaining self-assurance. Despite Paulina Porizkova’s ravishing youthful looks she only came to see herself as beautiful a couple of years ago. She now says, “The most beautiful thing is confidence.”
Ah, lessons from supermodels. Who knew?
Check out the Diet Coke ad above.
Do you react like these women?
- Aaaah, awesome
- I was like :O when i saw this commercial
- ooh la la! like like like, all I need, no sugar, no calories!
And Coke’s personal favorite:
- Hot damn I need a Coke.
Or like these men?
- Bad commercial, kinda degrading for women…
- kinda sexist, no? Imagine a group of guys rolling the coke can to a hot girl, that then gets splattered with coke on her top and takes it off while they stare… yeah … id wanna see that commercial!
- I feel very violated as a man to be viewed as a slave laboring, sex toy meant for the amusement of females. It’s almost to hard to bear watching this demonstrable evidence of female oppression in our society. I don’t think women would be laughing if this video was the contrary. Women are nothing but misandristic swines. We have to unite my brothers and break this new established misandry system. Wahh
Oh no, do I have to start competing with guys who look like THAT?! (We ladies can relate having had to compete with Brooklyn Decker-types for years.)
I don’t like how he’s demeaned before he’s ogled. (On being demeaned — or being demeaned and ogled — the ladies can relate and commiserate.)
An alternative translation:
Women aren’t the only ones who are objectified! And women like to objectify, too, so quit yer whining!
If so, these guys think this ad is equivalent to what women are pelted with every day. It’s not.
First, sexiness is a part of the human experience. So if either men or women are portrayed as sexy some of the time, no big deal. Our sexuality is a part of our humanity.
The problem comes, in part, from bombardment by an impossible beauty ideal, leaving plenty of women feeling bad about themselves. Guys increasingly face this problem, but not at nearly the same level.
Also, women are almost ALWAYS the sexy ones, and that is the PRIMARY way they are portrayed. The imbalance communicates that women exist to sexually please men. That’s their main purpose, and without reciprocation.
And then women are hurt by men who learn — however unconsciously – to think of women as sexual-pleasure objects. So women may be treated as things and not people. Some men will use and abuse them. Their lovers may only care about their own pleasure and not make emotional connection. Their lovers may treat them like interchangeable objects. They may rudely ogle others while ignoring their partner. Taken to extreme, some men kidnap women for sex slavery, or go to prostitutes who have been kidnapped and enslaved.
Because if women are just objects, no feelings to worry over.
If women and men were BOTH portrayed in multidimensional ways, with one part being “sexy” — and outside of impossible body ideals (variety is the spice of life!) then “sexy” images needn’t be a problem for either gender.
I don’t know one guy who would cut off his cock in the name of cancer-prevention. I wouldn’t!
That’s the DJ blather I had the misfortune of hearing on my morning commute the day Angelina Jolie announced her double mastectomy to prevent cancer.
It made me wonder.
Why would these guys choose their cocks over life?
And boobs are a cock-equivalent?
The male member makes babies and gives pleasure (not necessarily in that order), and eliminates waste. Breasts do just one of the three — and they are not the only route to pleasure. In fact, the clit works better.
And while men love looking at Angie’s boobs, women are less enamored of the male package, or gazing at it, anyway.
And of course, some guys think a bigger cock means a bigger man. (Not true.)
I’m not sure that women see their breasts in quite the same way. Sure, they’re seen as a sign of femininity and some women want bigger ones to feel more womanly. Yet others are secure in their femininity, regardless of size: Keira Knightley, Mila Kunis, Paris Hilton, Kate Middleton and her sister, Pipa, for instance.
And as Angelina now says,
On a personal note, I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in no way diminishes my femininity.
So what about a man choosing his cock over his life? A male student of mine wrote a piece I will be posting called, “Doing dumb stuff to prove manhood.” Maybe this is an example?
But of course, breasts have been a defining trait of Angelina Jolie – take those away and there’s nothing left if you happen to be a boob-obsessed guy? A kind of death, as far as they are concerned?
Or, if a woman is defined by her boobs and her man-appeal, maybe some dudes are just pissed that a woman would think that her body and her life are for herself and not for them?
Are others just disconcerted? Angie’s hot — even without natural C-cups. How could that be?
Boobs are a big thing, but in one stroke they’ve lost a chunk of cultural power, says Alexandra Bradner at Salon,
She absolutely robbed them of their cultural, symbolic power. And what’s so completely thrilling about this, is that she did it on her own, one single woman — one single decision — against the machine.
Imagine, valuing women for themselves and not for their breasts. For some, that is plenty disconcerting. No wonder there’s a bit of a backlash on the man-o-sphere.
Modeling scouts—known for weighing young girls in public like cattle and targeting down-and-out families, but perhaps not for exploiting the life-threatening delusions of sick teenagers—were gathering—in the plural, so more than one person thought this was okay—outside of Sweden’s largest eating disorder clinic.
Agents say they’re seeking “healthy, normally slim women” and “never urge weight loss.” Yet one girl who was approached was so frail that she needed a wheelchair. And they’re all hospitalized.
On never urging weight loss, Waldman muses, “The eating disorder will do all the urging for you!” Indeed, about 40% of models are eating disordered.
Anorexic-thin is unnatural and unhealthy. About 1/5 of anorexic girls and women die.
Next, the models will become even more unnatural-looking as implants are inserted into their chests.
Now add photoshop to complete the other-worldly look.
Why would a sickly, does-not-exist-in-nature look be used to model feminine beauty?
A couple of things could be happening.
As women gain equality in status and opportunity, images of men and women are changing in ways that exaggerate their natural physical differences. By nature, men have more muscular bulk. And men’s images in movies, professional wrestling, and magazines like Men’s Health – not to mention boys’ toys like G.I. Joe – have gotten more muscular over time. Meanwhile, images of women have grown thinner and frailer. At the same time, women’s breasts have gotten bigger, exaggerating another sex difference.
But there is also a profit motive. With an impossible ideal, people will spend endless sums trying to attain it through diets, exercise, gym memberships, surgeries, miracle bras, fashions that create optical illusions, and plenty of magazines to tell you all about all the stuff you can buy.
So in the interest of heightening a sense of gender difference and selling product, we create a very sick feminine ideal.
Are women too hard on themselves when it comes to their looks — and everything else?
A Dove ad campaign called “Real Beauty Sketches” has gone viral. In it, women describe themselves to a forensic artist who sketches them from behind a curtain. Next, strangers describe them.
Women used more negative words to describe themselves:
- (My chin) kind of protrudes a little bit, especially when I smile.
- My mom told me I have a big jaw.
- I have a big forehead.
- I have a fat, rounder face.
Strangers made more positive assessments:
- Her chin was a nice, thin chin.
- She has nice eyes. They lit up when she spoke.
- She has a cute chin.
- She has very nice blue eyes.
Afterwards, the women were surprised by how much more attractive they appeared in the eyes of strangers who — tellingly — yielded more accurate results.
In fact, Dove’s campaign was inspired by research finding that only 4% of women believe they are beautiful. Meanwhile, beauty can be a huge source of self-worth, which is unfortunate when there is so much more to women — and so much that is more significant.
“Good Morning America” did the same experiment and got the same results.
Last summer’s HBO documentary on supermodels, “About Face,” also found plenty of self-criticism among women who are thought the most beautiful among us. For instance, Carmen Dell’Orefice disliked one photo because it showed her feet, which she deemed “unattractive.” I looked at the photo and saw nothing wrong at all. Perfectly normal and natural looking.
We can be our own biggest critic.
But self-criticism doesn’t stop with our looks.
I’ve noticed that I can be pretty tough on myself. But when I consider how I would advise another person in the same situation I’m much more generous.
Being too harsh on ourselves can be a problem because low self-esteem limits us. When we lack faith in ourselves we don’t try, or when we do try, we are less likely to succeed. Or, we may put others down to feel like we’re better than someone else. But as they say, you can’t love until you love yourself.
If we were more self-accepting and self-loving everyone would likely be better off.
This matter of women liking sex less than men is confusing. I enjoy sexuality very much as a man and am disheartened by the seemingly in-your-face fact that women don’t enjoy sex as much as we men do. To me sex is a total experience (heart, soul, mind and body) and it seems that if women don’t enjoy this important part of healthy relationships, then they aren’t as attracted to men in all those ways. I don’t know, it would be nice to actually feel very attractive to the opposite sex. The whole thing makes me very sad, i dunno.
That’s one man’s reaction to a blog post I wrote asking, “DO Women Like Sex Less Than Men?” I wrote the post because statistics suggest that, on average, women do typically like it less.
That’s because women’s sexuality has been repressed by a culture that calls us sluts and ho’s and describes men getting sex with women in unappetizing ways: screw, f-, bang, nail, ram, smash, smack that, beat those… Or, women may get distracted with worry about not looking good enough. And if they do think they look good, they may focus on looking hot for the guy. Who can be in touch with sensual feelings with all that going on? Not to mention, women who have been raped often don’t enjoy sex at all.
Women in egalitarian, sex-positive cultures love sex and are easily and multiply orgasmic. They don’t even need a vibrator.
The problem is sexism, not biology.
The question remains: What to do?
As a society we need to heal. Women, their sexuality, and their bodies — in all their many forms — must be respected and celebrated. And we must put an end to a rape culture that so often blames the victim and fails to punish rapists.
Over time, both sexism and sexual repression have diminished, so there is hope. But cultural change takes time. What can we do right now?
If sexual abuse and trauma are part of a woman’s past, she likely needs therapy and a great deal of understanding from her partner. Too many couples try to struggle through the problem alone when they need help.
Meanwhile, the beauty ideal has narrowed to impossible standards, leaving many women feeling sexually undesirable – and that dampens libido. So women need to become more loving and accepting of their bodies, and men need to appreciate and communicate the unique beauty their partners hold.
Also, let go of how you look and get in tune with how you feel. Focusing on looks is a huge distraction. Instead, center on small sensations that grow larger as you submerge yourself in them.
Deep connection may also help partners to merge and emerge into a transcendent experience. As one woman describes it:
There is a form of sexual ecstasy that mimics the union of God and man, recreation of the world. I can’t really describe this experience… But pure joy and connection with another person I feel is becoming closer to the cycles of life and the underlying palpable energy to the world… in essence, God.
And finally I’ll repeat some advice to men from earlier posts:
If you want your partner to desire sex then romance her, show appreciation, stop shaming women for being sexual, or for not fitting ridiculous “ideals,” desire her and let your lady know she’s beautiful.
Playboy wanted to know how average-looking Lena Dunham, the award-winning producer, director, writer and star of HBO’s Girls, would feel if she woke up in the body of a Victoria’s Secret Angel.
Not so great, said Dunham, who frequently appears nude on her show.
I don’t think I’d like it very much. There would be all kinds of weird challenges to deal with that I don’t have to deal with now. I don’t want to go through life wondering if people are talking to me because I have a big rack. Not being the babest person in the world creates a nice barrier. The people who talk to you are the people who are interested in you. It must be a big burden in some ways to look that way and be in public.
Looking like a Victoria’s Secret Angel instead of me. I can see the upside. Women are hugely judged by their looks so in an Angel-body I’d land at the top of the pack. How nice. And I could have any guy.
But studies show a downside. Plain women are more likely to get a job interview, for instance. Maybe they seem less sex objecty and more brainy. The beautiful are also believed to be more conforming and self-promoting.
Or, therapist, Mary Pipher wrote in her bestselling Reviving Ophelia that,
Girls who are too attractive are seen primarily as sex objects. Their appearance overdetermines their identity. They know that boys like to be seen with them, but they doubt that they are liked for reasons other than their packaging.
Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor who studies men, says some guys are more interested in bragging to other guys that they nailed a beautiful girl than in having sex with her. Other guys entirely miss seeing the girl because they’re obsessed with her body.
Meanwhile, girls who are too plain are ignored and miss a lot of experiences. Pipher continues:
The luckiest girls are neither too plain or too beautiful. They’ll be more likely to date boys who genuinely like them. They’ll have an identity based on other factors, such as sense of humor, intelligence or strength of character.
And then there’s this: A lot of guys thought Dunham’s response was B.S. But in a Slate comment thread one woman wrote,
You think you’d be happier if you were better-looking, but would you feel the same way if you were in prison? You don’t associate being attractive with any sort of threat, but for women it can be.
On a more mundane note, it’d also take a lot of time, work, starvation and calorie-counting to keep up that body when you could be doing other stuff. Healthy is good, “perfect” takes too much time and surgery.
I don’t understand the girls here. They say they want men to be emotionally responsive and sensitive, that they want us to be good listeners and really caring. So I’ve become all that. I’m a really good friend, a good listener, sensitive, and all the rest. And they all want to go out with these macho assholes! I don’t get it! What do women want?
Sociologist, Michael Kimmel, is an expert on men and masculinity. He says this is the question guys ask him most often.
Turns out, certain negative traits are associated with a rise in both men’s and women’s popularity. Remember the “mean girls” who top the high school pecking order?
Luckily, what makes “bad boys” and “mean girls” appealing isn’t their badass-ness. Good guys and gals can actually copy a few benign “bad boy” traits and become both desired and pleasant.
Social research, as reported by The Good Men Project, finds that personality traits named the “dark triad” are correlated with physical attractiveness.
- Narcissism – defined as an overly developed sense of self-worth and entitlement matched with intense egotism.
- Machiavellianism – defined by the person’s reliance on manipulation to get what he or she desires without regard to others as well as a cynical dismissal of morality as “for other people.”
- Psychopathy – a loaded term; it doesn’t refer to a violent maniac, but to someone defined by reckless thrill-seeking, selfishness, lack of remorse and affect and a certain level of superficial charm.
Turns out, narcissism is most associated with being found beautiful. But it’s not the narcissism that matters. Rather, ego-centric folks just carry themselves with confidence and adorn themselves in the latest styles.
Researchers took pictures of a few “dark triad” types along with pics of a few “normal” folks. In one picture everyone dressed in their usual clothing. In another everyone wore plain clothing and hairstyles, and no makeup.
Narcissists were deemed more attractive than others when dressed in their usual fashionable ways. But in the “plain” photos they seemed no more alluring than anyone else.
Looks like all you need is confidence and decent fashion sense – or someone who can help you with fashion sense — to come across as more appealing. And in fact, you’ll have an edge over the bad boys and mean girls because the “Dark Triad” make great first impressions but most people run away once they get to know them.
It had not occurred to me that that wasn’t an option. It’s what my culture said I was supposed to look like. What I needed to look like to be truly valued.
Full of contradictions, I began my supermodel project. But in a healthy sort of way, I told myself. Wasn’t going to starve. No anorexia or bulimia for me.
I later came to see that I did end up with an eating disorder.
I became obsessed with food. How much had I eaten that day? Constantly counting calories. My worth depended upon how well I had kept my calories down.
At times I swung between overeating and starving. Very little starving – I wasn’t good at it.
I next developed an exercise obsession. You can’t get too much exercise, right? After developing a knee injury from jogging, I tried Nordic Track. Another knee injury. Next, I began walking three miles a day at a brisk pace. Yet another knee injury. Apparently, you can rub your cartilage too much from over-exercise and lack of rest. My physical therapist told me to start biking instead – and don’t overdo it! No more than four days a week, and no hills.
After all the food and exercise mania, I still looked nothing like a supermodel. One day standing in line at a grocery store I picked up People Magazine and read a story on how supermodels did it. I finally understood why I didn’t look like them, and never would.
Kim Alexis had tried every fad diet and at one point starved herself for four days straight.
Carol Alt went on a fruit-only diet. Later, she drank eight cups of coffee a day, and ate salad for dinner.
Andie Macdowell said many models took drugs to deal with the stress of starving.
What struck me most was when Kim Alexis said:
When I first started out, I was rooming in a New York City hotel with (supermodel) Kelly Emberg. One night I came home, and I was eating only a head of lettuce for dinner. Kelly walked in and said, “You’re eating a whole head of lettuce? How could you?” I cried and said, “But it’s all I’ve had all day. It’s not even 50 calories!”
To which I say, “Are you freaking kidding me?!” That big “cheat” would be insane dieting in my book. In anyone’s book, one would hope.
That’s when my hopes for supermodel slim were dashed.
Yes, I had been insane. But not that insane.
And it’s not just me. It’s society. What kind of crazy culture says women must feel guilty about eating a head of lettuce — or she won’t “look good”?
So I determined to gain my mental and physical health back. I’ve had ups and downs, but so far so good.
Related Posts on BroadBlogs
How to Look Like a Victoria’s Secret Angel
Beautiful Women’s Hips Are Thinner Than Their Heads?
Spoon Fed Barbie
A new study on men’s breast size preferences may or may not be surprising.
University of Westminster researchers showed 361 British men 3-D models of women with different bust sizes and asked which woman they found most attractive.
A lot of women think that men only like big breasts, but this study says otherwise. Yes, nearly half – 44% – favored larger busts. But more than half didn’t, with one third preferring medium-sized gals and another quarter saying smaller is better. So there’s a range.
And, the researchers focused on white men because prior studies showed that preference varies by ethnicity. Once again, it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.
It all goes against pop evolutionary psychology which claims men want bigger breasts because they indicate health and fertility. First of all, most men don’t prefer larger over smaller. Second, if men preferred larger, then those genes would have been spread more widely and we’d have a lot more large busted women around today. Finally, there is no evidence that large breasts are associated with better health or fertility.
And even men who love big breasts may come to love more petite women, and vice-versa, as many can attest.
So ladies, you needn’t get expensive and potentially dangerous surgeries (which need to be redone every ten years) for implants.
And here’s another reason you don’t need them: Men who preferred big boobs were more likely to be sexist.
After indicating their breast preferences the guys were surveyed on how much they objectified women, felt hostility toward them and practiced benevolent sexism (seeing women as weak and needing protection).
Turns out, a preference for large breasts was most common among men in all three of those sexist categories, and most especially, among those who saw women as weak.
Now, men who are partial to buxom women aren’t always sexist. The Western world acts like “bigger is better” so no surprise that many men come to think so.
At the same time, the pattern makes a certain amount of sense. One researcher suggested that,
It is arguable that benevolently sexist men perceived larger female breasts as attractive because larger breast size on a woman is associated with perceived femininity.
And if you are going to objectify, it helps to easily see the crucial body parts.
That said, women should be confident and proud of their bodies, however they are shaped. That confidence will attract the best guys.