I’ve been thinking.
There’s something really interesting about conceptualizing beauty as an institution. There are standards set by Western cultures about what is beautiful, and this mostly includes features (bodies+clothing/other cultural indicators) associated with whiteness, thinness, typical ability, and a cis gender expression. What I see often on tumblr is the very tumblr-esque action of fighting the status quo in effort to change it, and people do this by saying every body, everybody, is beautiful. I love this and think it’s a wonderful movement on the track of getting people to love themselves/combat institutional oppression, but I also think there a certain things to question and keep in mind
(Disclaimer: these are opinions/suggestions. I can’t speak for everyone. I’m also white, thin and physically typically abled, born/raised in the U.S., and my gender expression allows me to pass as cis).
Because of colorism, ethnocentrism (+white supremacy in general), cissexism, ableism, fatphobia etc etc, Western society does not view certain people as beautiful. When we’re asserting that people marginalized by this are beautiful, we aren’t recognizing that the societal belief systems say that these people are not beautiful, which I think we should be! We should be starting dialogues about the institutions that say what beauty is, and imho we need to start critically looking at why we think beauty is important in the first place (i mean, it fuels and is fueled by capitalist ideals/money, is comprised largely of misogyny, and is rooted in colonialism and white supremacy).
Of course there are aspects of beauty rooted in the human affinity for symmetric things and clean things (ideals that may also be worth abolishing?), but beauty tends to be a cultural expression of uneven power structures, the people with power/social capital being the ones who the society deems beautiful. I think it’d be neat af to abolish this (not to say you can’t find people physically attractive/have a type. maybe it’s possible to do that without upholding toxic belief systems and while thinking critically about why you find certain things beautiful).
The part of the “everyone is beautiful” trend that I do really like and can get behind is that by saying everyone is beautiful, it is working to abolish the beauty standard because atypically beautiful people being complimented works against that standard. Regardless of that, though, why is beauty a go-to compliment? Is that what makes them authentic and valuable and worthy of self love?
idk. worth some thought, maybe?
inspired by my buddy Luna voidjuju ‘s “reclaiming ugly” posts I’ve seen a couple times.