When Did This Become Hotter?
Because of its popularity on the Internet, this image has been a hot button of conversation, controversy, and conflict. Comparing thin modern day celebrities to slightly more voluptuous sex-bombs of a former era, these pictures make a statement: the standard of beauty is no longer realistic and the ideal is too thin.
This simply isn’t true.
Yes, women are judged on a harsh scale when it comes to body shape and size. But this meme reinforces it.
By stating that the women on the bottom row are hotter, beauty is narrowly defined and women who don’t fit are marginalized. A woman may be naturally thin or athletic but because she lacks Betty’s voluptuous curves her perfectly healthy body is now judged too thin or too athletic.
And who’s defining “what’s best”? John Berger famously declared, “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.” So “When did this become hotter?” is all about the eyes of men declaring who’s hot. And who’s worthy.
The image also reinforces narrow gender norms. Other than Kiera Knightly’s six-pack, all are bathing suit clad and overtly feminine. Again with the exception of Knightly, all are posed in traditionally feminine ways—tilting heads and submissive stances.
And, all the women are white, no minorities allowed.
Finally, the picture reinforces the notion that outer beauty determines a woman’s worth. And that has huge psychological ramifications—low self-esteem, depression, self-harm. Other interests and talents become diminished as women become more one-dimensional.
In addition to broadening notions of beauty, we need a more solid platform on which women can build their identity. Celebrating intellect, athleticism, creativity, and compassion adds serious dimensions.
Women come in varieties of shapes, colors, heights, widths, personalities and abilities. To celebrate our womanhood, those variations must be recognized and admired, and this image does nothing of the sort.