Although women have always had jelly-like patches on the backs of our thighs, cellulite wasn’t seen as a “problem” until around the 1970s. So, why the change?
A bunch of old, rich, white dudes wanted to sell lotion.
That’s right — beauty “problems” are all too often social constructions which revolve around money leaving your pocket and floating into someone else’s mondo paycheck. Don’t get me wrong; most days, I love capitalism. But, this issue really grinds my gears.
Socially constructing imperfections with people’s physical appearances is a common strategy virtually inseparable from the modern personal care product industry. Cellulite is merely one example. The key steps are to create a product you want to pitch, label something kinda-sorta-related as a problem in need of solving, then introduce your product as the solution.
Want to stop aging? Want to lose weight? Want to change your life? BOOM. Buy this magic gobbledegook, and you’ll be back to looking hot.
Even the language is ridiculous. Just look at the commercials on TV. “Fight” wrinkles. “Defeat” nature. “Be a force of beauty.” Beauty is posed as a battle, implying that if you’re not beautiful by society’s standards, you’re losing a war. You’re a loser. You’re weak. You should want to be the most beautiful you can. You’re not trying hard enough. You should be trying harder. If you only bought XYZ, you would be a winner. You would be happier.
We’re constantly bombared with images of how to make ourselves “better”, how we should look and act and feel.
But… what about biology? What if I just like certain looks better?
Yes, biology determines a lot of what attracts us to certain people. But, while there are a number of universal beauty laws (e.g. symmetry of the face), each society has its own individualized guidelines for how it wants you to look, frequently based upon what physical attributes are hardest to achieve and maintain. Being constantly told by society what looks good will influence your behavior eventually, after forcing you to experience the rejecting sting of social shame for not conforming.
In the end, you’re being told you need to fix things which were never broken. That’s not the kind of game I want to play.