How would life be different if you never had to give a thought to how you looked? If the only concern you had about your body was how healthy it was? What if a healthy body was seen as a beautiful body?
I asked my sixty-year-old, fit as a fiddle aunt what she thought, and she said that was unlikely to happen, it wasn’t possible to ignore how one looked outside, no matter how good (healthy) one felt inside. Looks mattered, she said.
But we do know that rounded, curvaceous bodies were considered beautiful for centuries. Barbara Cartland heroines were always short (or petite) and skinny; Alex Hailey in ‘Roots’ describes beautiful women as ‘sooty black’.
When we were young a friend said she thought the athletic look was going to be the new criteria for beauty for men and women. Halle Berry fits that description? But here too, it’s not really about fitness; one still wants muscles and six packs, (sometimes risking injuries and trying drugs to achieve them) not a healthy body. Sometimes confidence, talent and style makes up for not fitting into set standards of beauty, Sania Mirza is not skinny and Rekha was not light skinned but once again, it’s about beauty.
Imagine what would change if health took priority? There would be no high heels, plastic surgeries, liposuctions, chemical hair dyes, hair removing creams and no fairness creams for men and women, no surgeries to make one’s legs longer and we would dress differently. We’d dress for comfort. We would feel more comfortable.
If beauty wasn’t such a distraction, health was taken more seriously we would think before we eat. We’d probably say no to aerated drinks and junk food and maybe, say yes to nuts and fruits?
Maybe we will see more women in sports and outdoor activities. Swimming too, I know of women who do not swim because the chlorine in the water darkens their skin.
Standards of beauty keep changing, if a healthy, fit look was seen as a beautiful look maybe we’d be a healthier world?
How much should one be willing be change one’s life style to look good?
Do you think there is more pressure to look (more than feel) younger today than there was in the past?
Edited to add: This post was written in response to Aparna’s tag here, ‘My Fragile 30-plus body’.