Art and Gender Issues and Psychology and Relationships and sexuality and Social Issues09 Aug 2009 10:20 am

I’m always amazed at how many of us behave in ways which seem to indicate that we do not view the human body as a thing of beauty? In fact there is much evidence to lead one to conclude that we are not only not happy with our bodies but view them as something to overcome and transcend.

Since the onset of puberty when I started to become attracted to the female form I found the majority of female bodies beautiful in one way or another. It was rare that I found a female form without some alluring or at least redeeming quality. Being heterosexual I was neither drawn to nor desired the male body. Yet, this did not prevent me from admiring my own or other males muscle tone or physique.

As I’ve mentioned many times how the female form has been central to art and the definition of beauty for almost every culture on the planet. Yet, despite this fact there does seem to be a tendency for people to be critical of the human form and in many ways find the human body disgusting or something to overcome or transform.

The use of make up has become more pronounced through the ages. While it can be used to enhance or draw attention to particularly attractive aspects of a person such as their eyes or lips, it also can be used to hide perceived flaws. If you pay attention to the message given in advertising the major role of current make up artistry to cover up flaws and create false impressions rather than accent strengths.

The entire realm of cosmetic surgeries even goes further in its desire to remove flaws and overcome weaknesses. Referring to a woman as a natural beauty is becoming a rarer event, especially amongst females.

The percentage of woman who state that they are happy or even comfortable with their bodies is shockingly low if you believe the statistics in magazine polls and psychological self-esteem studies.

If you look at Woman’s magazine’s beauty ads and photos you see a very narrow and unrealistic form of beauty. The models build and body type look very similar and they are air brushed into a rather cartoon like existence. Though male nudity magazines often tend towards featuring woman with larger breasts and flat stomachs you can still find woman of many varied body types being presented in an erotic fashion. Though the air brushed female is on the rise in male mags there is still plenty of space given to celebrating the varied forms of the female body.

The male form is far less celebrated in our society, and is at least as narrow in its definition of masculine beauty.

Other than a few rare exceptions the general male body is not considered attractive by our culture. In fact many woman state they find a partially or well dressed man far more attractive than a nude one. Not many men would say they prefer a clothed female body over a naked one.

In fact, many woman and men are uncomfortable and even disgusted by the male form. In modern cinema the naked female body is posed as a thing of beauty while the male body is seldom naked as when it is it usually is used a vehicle for comedy. While woman may complain that the female bodies in cinema are unrealistic and idealized, everyone realizes a male cavorting around in his underwear is a recipe for hilarity. A nude woman dancing and bending over is often erotic while a nude man dancing and bending over is used as a comic device in cinema resulting in people laughing and shouting words of disgust such as “gross”.

If people’s discomfort with the sight of the human body is becoming more pronounced it is nothing in comparison to the campaign against the human scent. When was the last time you heard someone praise the natural scent of a person other than their lover or spouse. Our bodies exist in a world of deodorants, perfumes, colognes, and scented shampoos where any trace of a natural human scent is impossible to discern. Any hint of the body’s natural scent would almost usually be viewed as poor hygiene. There use to be a difference between body odor and its scent.

Sure bad breath and stench are to be avoided, but isn’t there a positive role for one’s natural scent. Is the smell of the human body inherently offensive and disgusting? And if we feel the human scent repulsive what does it say about our view of ourselves and humanity in general.

In future posts I’ll take a look at other ways in which we show a dislike for our very humanity, sense of self, and experience of life. Yet, before concluding today I want to offer a couple more observations regarding our view of the male form and beauty.

If you’re male try to spend some time listening to female’s inn conversation, if you’re female pay attention to how central the concept of beauty is to feminine dialogue. When entering a house, or a shop or when first meeting another female it is rare that no observation or compliment regarding the beauty or physical appeal of something is not made within seconds. Something worn or in the room or changed is noted or praised. A new hair style, clothing, ear rings, etc, will be noted, or the feel or look of some object will be brought to everyone’s attention.

Over then last few years I’ve been astounded by the percentage of conversation time females spend assessing, appreciating and describing the sight, feel, smell and taste of beautiful things. Yet, despite this preoccupation with beauty and beautiful things how rare it is for woman to appreciate or articulate the beauty of the male form.

Males who seldom talk of the beauty of objects, on the other hand, generally view the female form as the height of beauty. This irony is depicted in the following lyrics from Preening Like a Peacock.

Preening Like A Peacock

Preening like a peacock hormones out of control
Preening like a peacock putting on the show

Women find beauty in natural things
Sunrise/sunset, seashores and gems
Women see beauty in many things
Flowers, colors, in fashion and rings

She sees beauty everywhere, preening like a peacock
Why is she looking way over there, preening like a peacock

A woman feels beauty in every touch
In satin, silks and in a baby’s flesh
A woman smells beauty in every sniff
In perfumes, herbs and floral scents

Spending hours smelling roses or buying a new top

A man sees beauty in the girl of his dreams
His temptress, his partner, his goddess his queen
A man finds beauty in a woman’s form
A breast, a thigh, a hip bone exposed

She is the goal of art
She is his anchor and spark
She gives the milk of life
Without her he shrivels and dies

A man feels beauty in the passion of curves
Flowing from buttock to the small of the back
A man feels completion with a woman in tow
She’s his altar, his Eden, his castle and throne

While I preen my feathers I feel oh so hot
Every time I feel I’m pretty I hear the bubble pop

Nothing pleases like a maiden in heat
Itching for pleasure from her head to her feet

Yet lust fades as quick as it comes
From an 8 course banquet to a stick of gum
In a woman’s world of beauty men don’t make the cut
A few handsome faces maybe and the occasional butt

But we’ll never really get it, we’ll continue to strut
We’ll shake our tail feathers thinking we’re too much
We’ll shake our tail feathers we’ll strut our stuff

To listen to this song go to the Priorities CD in the music section.

Jim Guido

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