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On Beauty Standards


So Karnythia said something about the alienation of women from normative standards of beauty, and I wanted to share something that’s too long for Twitter.

I had braces recently (got them off in August) and I had to have some teeth pulled to make room in my jaw for the rest of my teeth to lie right. As is customary here in the land of my adopted people, I went to a jaw surgeon to have these extractions done. Now, feathered serpent stuff aside, I am a reasonably attractive woman with a reasonably attractive face. I went to a jaw surgeon to have three premolars removed before getting a bonded orthodontic appliance top and bottom (conventional braces). My orthodontist was absolutely confident he could get good, functional, attractive effects with only braces, no surgery needed.

My jaw surgeon, despite my very clear instructions at my consultation that I only wanted the premolars removed, insisted on working up an alternate “solution” that involved a complex jaw surgery. This surgery would have separated my top jaw into six to seven pieces and wired it in a completely new configuration, ditto my lower jaw, and for the piece de resistance, he would have cut the tiny bone spur that comprises the human chin off my mandible and then glued it down again in a different location to scar in place there.

Why? Not because I’m not attractive. Certainly not because it would improve the quality of my orthodontic outcome. But because I could be *more*, *differently*, and most of all *better* attractive.

He told me that after he was done, I wouldn’t recognize myself.

Our culture’s outrageous beauty standards mean you are never done making yourself more normative. Even if you are attractive, you are not done. You can do better, and if you don’t want to do better at attractive, there is obviously something wrong with you.

So what about the people who don’t have any hope at all of fitting our culture’s standards? I mean, my hair may be “bad” (gorgeous, but “bad”), but at least my skin is white and my eyes are blue, so I am absolved of a lot of baseline effort to look more appropriately female for my culture.

That’s just not right.

It’s not just a matter of opting out, for women. When women opt out of the normative, they just end up with a whole new set of standards to fail at.