“With the spread of conformity and image-driven superficiality, the allure of an individuated woman in full possession of herself and her powers will prove irresistible. We were born for plenitude and inner fulfillment.” ― Elizabeth Prioleau, Seductress – Women Who Ravished the World and Their Lost Art of Love
[one_half padding=”4px 10px 0 4px”]When 70s model Kelly LeBrock purred the words, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” women everywhere suddenly rushed out and purchased Pantene™ shampoo. While the line was fully intended as a reverse-psychology ploy to sell beauty products, the problem LeBrock and every other attractive model faced then, and faces now, is that people do hate them because of their beauty. There is this mistaken idea that being beautiful somehow discounts one’s intellect. Sadder still is the fact that too often that anti-beauty bias comes from other women.
I can’t speak for every model, of course, but have the advantage, having photographed the young woman in today’s photo on numerous occasions, to know that she is a strong, intelligent, extremely creative, entrepreneur who, yes, is very attractive and, yes, has enough self-confidence to stride naked into a room full or horny men and leave with their balls in her Gucci® handbag. There is no putting her in a box. She appreciates a sincere compliment, but will verbally eviscerate anyone who tries to patronize her, especially in a sexual context. The fact that she is attractive is a bonus that compliments who she is, not retail wrapping that attempts to define her.
Where we run into problems is that taking pictures of one’s personality is rather difficult. Capturing intelligence on film is playing to a false stereotype at best. I could, in theory, take pictures of her working, but that would require considerable explanation and in the end does no better job telling one who she is than does the picture above. I grow rather tiresome of the crowd that seems to think that physical beauty and being a respectable person of intelligence and depth are two separate things. To disparage beauty for intelligence is just as wrongly biased as those who would mistakenly disparage women in favor of men. Both are equally wrong and equally damaging.
Part of being independent is being able to step up and say, without quiver nor anxiety, this is who I am. Period. No justification, no apologies, and no conditional qualifying should ever be necessary. A woman who dresses in Prada is no better than one who duct tapes the inside seam of her pants together each morning. One of the most brilliant mathematicians I’ve known, a person whose command of numbers makes my head spin, was bare-ass naked when I first met her and didn’t give a rat’s ass what I thought about the matter. We forget that bias too easily runs in both directions and shaming a person for being attractive by assuming she is lacking in intellect is one of the most dangerous mistakes one can make.[/one_half]
[one_half_last padding=”4px 4px 0 10px”]The proposed Equal Rights Amendment has been introduced to every Congress since 1924 and fell only three states shy of ratification in 1982. For reasons I fail to even begin to understand because they are so inherently foolish and ill-considered, these words are not yet law:
Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
The fact that it has taken nearly a century and we still are not any closer to seeing those words in the Constitution than we were when they were first introduced is beyond shameful, an example of just how firmly entrenched social biases become. While we’ve made progress in the area of women’s rights, until those words become immutable law everything we think exists, every step forward we think we’ve made, is temporal and can be erased. The concept is so very simple, and the benefits so astonishingly plentiful, so as to make this amendment’s lack of ratification yet another very embarrassing stain on the United States’ record of civil rights.
At the same time, those who would champion women’s Independence hurt their own cause when they allow something such as position or physical beauty to become the basis of judgment. This isn’t a new battle, either. Consider these words from the 16th century:
“If I follow the inclination of my nature, it is this: beggar-woman and single, far rather than queen and married.”
― Elizabeth I Tudor
If even Queen Elizabeth I felt that the judgments of place and standing impeded upon her Independence, we cannot expect attitudes and practices to change simply upon the force of a social campaign. Attitudes must change, children must be taught, and we must stop looking at beauty and nudity as the antithesis of intelligence and worth.
Being Independent must give one the right to be exactly who and what they are, even when that means being fabulous.[/one_half_last]