Fatiquette states it is rude to say “I am fat” in the presence of someone fatter. A lesson France should heed now that the French Institute of Textile and Apparel has taken French measurements and concluded that half the population, read les françaises, have in 40 years added both 2 centimeters to their stature and 2 kilos to their weight. The average woman of 1,62 cm now weighs 62,4 kilo, numbers far removed (really?) from the ideal (really?) 1,62 m and 52 kg, the famous 10 point gap.
It is difficult to compare average weight and height between nations and nationalities. In the UK, women generally talk about dress size, with, according to one of the latest surveys, 12 being the ideal number. Which would be a 44 in Italy, a 40 in the rest of Europe and a 14 in Australia. Americans measure waists and hips, in inches which, although convertible, does not speak to the average European imagination.
Beauty ideals and silhouettes throughout the ages have changed and women have alternately endorsed generous curves, slender, skinny, beanpole, pointy chest, flat chests, small waists, thin waists, toned limbs, sinewy arms, mighty muscles, wide hips, no hips, … there is nothing new about the whims and wishes of the body cult.
Looks and books and Baudelaire; a man generally not overly present in the body culture debate, railing against the 18th century Romantic ideal of natural beauty, decided to dedicate an entire section of one of his essays to ‘physical rituals and fashion’. The ritual of putting on make-up, or so he says, “spiritualizes’ the woman, helping her escape the animalistic, the bodily, her material nature. Furthermore, Baudelaire defines fashion as ‘a sublime distortion of nature… a permanent and constantly renewed effort to reform nature’. Fashion, he claims constitutes ‘the means of rising above nature’.
“Beauty is the promise of happiness.” Stendhal
Agree or not, Baudelaire, ever the dandy, makes but an innocent play of things. Who after all can disagree that a line of kohl around the female eye intensifies and deepens her look?
But fashion and its fashion dictators do more than play.
Editors, designers, fashion icons and vloggers, with a simple message, a picture, a boutade, determine future trends and beauty ideals. But sometimes innocent style advice turns into something closer to disease mongering than a beauty tip.
The fight against peach fuzz and facial hair.
Women are humans. Humans have facial hair. Women have facial hair. And have dealt very well with this. But now, women’s lives are tilted, turned upside down. Women, somebody somewhere ruled, haven’t done their homework. Women should take a lesson from their male counterparts.
Women are told to shave.
Billed as manual exfoliation, women are advised to buy themselves delicate micro razors, resembling small, thin scalpels and shave their faces.
Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Cleopatra did it. The Japanese have done it for years and as we speak, thousands of women are uploading You Tube videos to show how happy female shavers are with their shaving routine.
While women suffer from Kardashian bum envy and thigh gap craving, fight cellulitis, love handles and belly fat, deprive themselves from food and rest and peace of mind and abuse their bodies for an ideal somebody in a faraway studio has photoshopped and publicized, new frustrations and shortcomings are already lying in waiting, hovering, preparing their offensive.
Women cool-sculpt, liposuc, jog, run, squat and lunge. They conceal and cake and exfoliate. They blow-dry, straighten, curl, wax, pluck, thread and shave.