Google+ Authentic Parenting: You're Looking Lovely Today

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

You're Looking Lovely Today

I was watching the sixth season of Grey's Anatomy last week and had an epiphany.

There was this scene where a couple, parents of a very ill child with a rare bowel disease, steps into the chief's office because they want to make a donation to the hospital.
The husband comes in first, then the wife. The chief says hello to the man and then goes on to say something along the lines of "You're looking good today" to the wife. I had to pause the episode.

I stared at my husband and asked him if he had noticed that. He looked at me puzzled, because this is the way it works. This is common 'courtesy', this is what is seen as polite in our society. Not only is it accepted to make comments about a woman's appearance, it is a social code. We can freely state that a woman looks lovely, stunning, beautiful, good... that she has lost weight. However we do not do such a thing with men.

And women expect these comments, as they are part of social convention. When they are not made, does she feel ugly? Does she wonder if she's looking bad, or that she's too fat?

How can we live in a society where commenting on a person's appearance is part of the social code? Where people can assess women like they were cattle and it is accepted as a compliment?

We don't just have to undermine the evil images in the media. Yes, they have negative effects, but the core is negative too. The very attitude of society at large towards women is not so far away from the 1900s. And that potentially is much more far reaching and influential. You can shelter your daughter from Vogue, but you can't shelter her from society. (Unless you move to Africa like we did)


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9 comments:

  1. Interesting observation. I've always been somewhat put-off when others offer a 'compliment' on my appearance because it makes me self-conscious from that point on. It brings my focus to how I look rather than the impact of my presence to the conversation perhaps. It does not happen often mind you, as it isn't a social norm where I live (as I've noticed anyways), but it's still strange when it does happen. It has happened more since having my son as if people somehow expect me to be uncomfortable with my body now that it has carried a child and that I need a self-confidence boost. I would much rather be complimented on making a healthy baby than on losing pregnancy weight and looking 'normal' again.

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  2. Love the template and banner of the blog!
    You raise a valid point! From now on I am going to compliment the men in my life more! ;-)

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  3. I completely agree with Wolfmother - these "positive" comments - except of course coming from my husband - make me more self-conscious. They make me think that people are paying attending and assessing my value based on my appearance. I generally work under the assumption that (within reason) my appearance doesn't matter too much... but when these comments are made I am thrust back to our social "reality" that it really is what people care about. (love the new banner & background, too!)

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  4. Thanks! I'm actually quite fond of the design too! Still some work to do though

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  5. So true. Your observation reminds me of a conversation I had yesterday with someone...

    My son is big for his age... he just turned 8 months, and he weighs 28.5 lbs., and he's over 30 inches tall. People comment on it ALL the time and I get so sick of the fact that it's the first thing they comment about when they meet him... and they're not usually tactful about it either. Anyway, so yesterday, when someone said to me, "HOW old is he??!! WOW. He's really chunky. You might wanna put him on a diet," I responded, "What if we felt as free to comment on the appearance/weight of adults as we do on children? What if I had said the exact same thing about you upon our first introduction? Furthermore, if my son would have been a girl but had the same body build, would you have made that comment? Doubt it." (Not to mention the only thing he eats is breastmilk and a few chunks of a different vegetable/meat each day, so not sure what kind of "diet" that critic wanted to me stick him on. Starvation?)

    I've noticed that we point out the size of little boys like it's all there is to define them... and we point out the appearance of grown women like that's all there is to define THEM.

    How did we get to this sad place? :/

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  6. Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth. Actually girls do get these comments. My daughter got a 'your belly's fat, you should exercise more and eat less' a while back, she was only 2,5 years old at the time. I should really write about that

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  7. OMG at the "your belly's fat comment"! Who in their right mind would think that, let alone say it out loud to a 2,5yo! I agree with your point, though I do sometimes comment on people's looks when I think they look really nice. And I never really thought about it because I have always liked hearing it myself (as long as not weight related). But you are right... In my defense, I say it to men as well! :)Will have to rethink the message I may be sending.

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  8. You are kidding me. Wow. Sad. :( You definitely should write about that.

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  9. I did write about it, lok for it somewhere next week (unless we hit 3000 on FB, then it'll move a bit further down for all the giveaways we have planned)

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