Monday, January 23, 2012

The Ugly Truth

Classic French icon Brigitte Bardot.
This is a fairy tale about the ugly truth.
I can't help but reveal what I've learned about French and Italian women that makes them so different from Canadians and how men react to them. If it wasn't so sad it would be funny to describe the bewildering differences between us. Americans (and Canadians, just to throw out name out there) claim that perfection is achieved by having long hair, a deep tan, a small waist, cartoon sized breasts, and enhancing your facial features (i.e eyes, lips) in order to be beautiful. In France, the women have that certain je ne sais quoi that makes them so irresistible and immediately sexy. A French woman is considered the perfect beauty if she is tall with a chic short hair cut, wide eyes, as little makeup as possible, and a thin frame. It is very important for a French woman to be thin. The Italians are quite similar to the French in the sense that being waifer thin is important, but there are some major differences here as well. While the French women try to look as effortlessly beautiful and timeless in tight black clothes, the Italians aren't ashamed to wear things that make them stand out - expensive furs, bright colours, and even speaking loudly with passion sprinkled with a series of hand gestures, even if she is only explaining what she ate for breakfast.
The French and Italians believe that smoking is sexy and that having an elegantly thin tube between their lips draws attention to their mouth and that it gives them that come-hither look, where as I personally start coughing and obsessing over my sensitive skin when someone blows smoke in my face. I could go on and on about how to identify the different beauty beliefs between myself, the French, and the Italians. But you can just as easily see for yourself on google images or by picking up the latest edition of Vogue. We all know that a lot
Voulez-vous coucher avec moi?
of European women smoke and are thin. We know they're appealing to men back home because they're foreign and have interesting accents. So I'm not going to waste any more time telling you things you already know, and instead focus on something more underground and definitely more fascinating.
We have a problem in Canada with how women view other women that doesn't exist over here. Its only natural to observe and even compare ourselves to the girl on the towel next to us on the beach, or the exotic looking woman in line in front of you at the grocery store. Its human nature to observe the behaviour and detail of other human beings. But how many time have you seen a girl in a low cut top or a tight bandage dress and thought to yourself or even said to your friend, "What a slut?" How many
"Sluts?" Nope. Just looks like a
couple of friends at the beach.
times have you seen a girl hanging out with a group of guys laughing and joking thinking, once again, "What a slut?" And how many of you have seen a girl tagged in a photo on facebook in bikini on the beach and thought, "What a slut?" Umm... What? Don't lie, jealous little girls. I know you're out there.
I have to admit that there's the exception when a girl is uploading pictures of herself in the bathroom mirror every single day in a stupid belly top and underwear-sized shorts while making a duck face. You're probably just asking for negative attention that has absolutely nothing to do with anything other than accumulating as many 'likes' as you can get. Oh, but men, you're guilty, too! The same thing goes for the guys out there who take pictures of themselves shirtless while flexing their muscles in the dusty bathroom mirror while starring coldly in their lifeless reflection. You, too, are probably asking to be called a douche. Douche.
I have to admit that even I've labeled people by this (the stupid bathroom pictures - not the other stuff), but living in Europe really changes ones perspective on what its appropriate for a women to dress like. Scratch that. In my opinion, nothing should be deemed appropriate or inappropriate in the first place. Why? you ask. Because the female body has been over sexualized for generations. Please don't think I'm trying to lecture you all on feminism, because I'm not. So if you're reading this thinking that this post is going to say that I believe
that women shouldn't shave and that we should all run around naked, I'm not. I shave, and I'm certainly not against running around naked. Keep reading, and I promise you won't be disappointed.
As I was saying, the female body has been oversexualized for so long. It was, after all, Marilyn Monroe's large breasts and bottle blonde hair that got her fame. Not her talent, because let's face it - the girl couldn't act any better than Ashlee Simpson could sing. 
I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with having big boobs or that dying your hair
means that you're 'oversexualized'. That would be ridiculous. In fact, I actually admire Miss. Norma Jeane (Marilyn Monroe's real name) for introducing the "big is beautiful" fad. If you're sitting at your computer wondering why a size one like myself would be applauding someone for being plus sized, let me just say that it isn't realistic for everyone to be a size one. There are some chosen people in the world who have good genes, a high metabolism, are competitive athletes, and have been vegetarians for five and a half years. I'm not naming names, I'm just saying. Anyway, Marilyn's big girl image continued until this elegant and impossibly flawless British model Kate Moss came along in the 1990's when she began the "heroin chic" and "anti supermodel" look in the industry. Did you read that correctly? Kate Moss was the anti supermodel in contrast to those such as Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell who were recognized for their curvacious figures. Moss turned the fashion tables and sold her image on being dangerously thin and flat chested. The media ate it up, and so did Calvin Klein.
Much like fashion, the "ideal beauty" changes over time. But the most noteworthy ideal beauty comes from the Barbie industry which began in 1959. As a child, my sister and I often spent our afternoons playing with the dozens of Barbies my parents had collected for us and made games out of it. We would dress them, create lives for them, and in our older years, 
Oh... So that's
how it works...
give them haircuts with our Crayola scissors. Even as a child, I wondered why Barbies all looked exactly the same except for their hair colour and why accessories were permanently glued to their bodies. Now that I'm older, I think that Barbies are probably the most harmful present you can give to a little girl. You see, Barbie's best friend, Midge, was a doll created to 'teach girls about the reproductive cycle' by being a pregnant doll... I guess. The funny thing about this doll is that her stomach isn't swollen like a pregnant woman's should be. In fact, the baby just sits there inside her Pilate's-loving tummy and can be taken out through the stomach. There is also a wedding ring painted on her finger, because of course none of us would ever want to consider sex before marriage and get the wrong idea about dear Midge.
Then there was the "Math Class Is Tough" Barbie invented in 1992 which is my personal favourite reason on why Barbies are the seed of the devil. Math Class Is Tough Barbie features a blonde Barbie equipped with a pink party dress and a permanent smile on her face. In the commercial that promoted the doll, the doll can be seen "talking" with another Barbie saying things like, "Math class is tough! Party dresses are fun! Do 
you have a crush on anyone?" If you think I'm making this up, I'm not. According to a study done by The Daily Collegian, if Barbie were human, her proportions would make her stand at six feet tall, have an 18-inch waist and cause her to not have enough body mass to support basic organ functions. How does this promote a realistic and healthy body imagine to young girls? It doesn't.
I understand that its not just the women who feel pressure to be a certain way and that there were also male sex symbols like Mick Jagger, Elvis Presley, and James Dean. But quite frankly, men do not face the same kind of pressures that women face in order to be 'beautiful', so I'm just going to skip this subject completely. Male readers, if you have a problem with this or want to share your own personal story, you're more than welcome to start your own blog and write about it. 
What I'm trying to say is... Well, a lot of things. Women are pressured to look a certain way, and once they achieve it, they're deemed as 'sluts' and 'whores'. If a woman's body is 'perfect' to society, she is a slut for putting it on display. Meanwhile, someone who is heavier or with smaller boobs could wear the same outfit as a woman who is thin and with large boobs, and it would be more tolerable and acceptable to other women. Jealousy at its finest? Yes. Logical? Nope.
I remember when I was working out in the weight room at my strict Catholic high school with a friend of mine. We had a dress code which required us to wear uniforms, but when working out, you could wear workout gear. Obviously a plaid kilt, starched polo shirt and sweater vest wasn't exactly the same thing as Under Armour gear. Anyway, we went to the weight room
together to spin. Because the weight room is hot and we knew we would be sweating, we wore short shorts. This isn't a problem, and was quite accepted when working out. But the tops we wore had to have the sleeve at a certain length and weren't allowed to show off our breasts. However, some of the guys in the weight room were working out topless, revealing - gasp! - their upper bodies. Quelle horreur! I decided to take my T shirt off (insert image of me parading around a Catholic high school aux seins nus - just kidding!) and just wearing the spaghetti-strap tank top that was underneath it since it was apparently acceptable not to follow the rules about what to wear in the weight room. Surprise, surprise! The teacher who was on duty supervising the weight room told me to "cover up and put some clothes on". I refused, because it was unfair for me to be told to dress a certain way if the boys didn't have to follow the same rules. The teacher then explained to me that our bodies were different and therefore, require different articles of clothing. 
So let me get this straight. Because God (if you believe in this kind of thing) created my body this way and that women's breasts are biologically built differently than those of a man, I should cover it up? Absolutely not. The same rules should apply to men, and I pointed out that one of the football players who was there with his shirt off had even bigger boobs than I did. That line was enough for me to win the argument, but unfortunately, the battle goes far beyond working out in a gym.
Sadly, I don't think things will change in Canada anytime soon. Everyone knows that the European founders of North America were all prudes. Its a fact. And there is no greater proof of this than the difference in what's suitable to wear to the beaches in Europe vs. the
beaches in Canada. In Canada, men are free to wear swimming trunks and the woman can wear whatever she wants, as long as she's wearing something. In Europe, the beaches are notoriously laissez-faire. A lot of men wear speedos or sometimes nothing at all. Same goes for the women, and in fact, the majority of women don't wear tops at all when compared to women who do. Oh, but its not just the Europeans... I mean, how else am I supposed to get a proper tan? As much as I hate the harassment of Roman men on the streets, I have the freedom to be topless on 
the beach without people taking pictures on their cell phones and posting it to facebook with captions like, "SLUT" or "Yeahhh bro check dis outtt." 
The problem for me is that the way I dress is not an invitation to be labeled as a whore and is certainly not a cry for attention. There was a really big issue in Toronto about a year ago over a police officer who provided female students at York University with ludicrous advice on how to avoid sexual harassment. He told the female students, "Don't dress like a slut." OH. I guess I missed the information session telling predators that what I wear is an open invitation on whether or not I can be harassed. Last April, action took place against the police officer's advice when thousands of people (both men and women) marched through the streets of Toronto and called it the 'SlutWalk'. People carried signs with messages like, "Don't tell me how to dress - tell them not to rape" and, "I was wearing pants and a sweater - was it my fault too?" Stuff like this makes me think. And also makes me sad that in my home country, what I wear defines me as a person.

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