Show of hands: who’s heard of the old Chinese custom of “lotus foot binding“? Before being outlawed 100 years ago, it was the custom among Chinese of breaking the feet of their daughters at the toes and arches and binding them tightly in order to compress the feet to the smallest possible size. This was done in order to – of all things – make the woman more beautiful and marriageable.
Okay, how about this: who’s heard of “the fattening rooms of Calabar“? In parts of Nigeria, women in possession of a more, ah, shall we say broad figure are vastly more appealing. Girth is a symbol of upper-class status and health, and therefore is considered the pinnacle of attractiveness – much as in Mauritania where the same paradigm exists.
“Wow,” you’re probably thinking. “How ridiculous can you get! What’s with these cultures destroying the bodies of women – young and old – for some ill-begotten and clearly stupid ideal of beauty?”
And you’d be right. Scary how much culture can color our vision to the point where we truly believe something is good and beautiful, even when common sense should tell us otherwise, isn’t it?
But wait… Hm. What if we in the United States are victims of the same type of cultural hoax? What if we are being blindly led to hold as the standard of beauty an unhealthy – or even dangerous – template?
I think we are, but I leave it to you to come to your own conclusions as to what that might be. It’s something to ponder – just how far has our own culture pushed women (and men) away from what is healthy and reasonable towards something stupid and destructive? They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder…
So what happens when all the beholders are cross-eyed?