Wednesday, 11 April 2012

It's all about the looks, innit.

    It's very unfortunate, but we live in a society obsessed with beauty. The goldfish-like attention spans of the media-sated are directly proportional to the bimbo-esque qualities of the dolly-birds piped into their living-rooms. The only place for the less beautiful lies in freak-show programmes, the Undateables, My big fat gypsy wedding, Super-size vs. Super-skinny. Or My transsexual summer.
    It was very interesting last year to listen to reactions from people outside the trans bubble to the MtF participants in MTS based on their looks. There were four MtFs on the programme, and to paraphrase the unflattering descriptions from outside the bubble: one was seen as pretty, another pretty but used far too much makeup, the next had a disastrous wig and the last was seen as still having something of the bloke about her. The last woman was furthest along the path of transition, yet it was sobering to hear people unconsciously refer to her as "him". Not through malice, just thoughtlessness and ignorance.
    Pretty strong stuff. And I think it's time we all admitted it, we all looked at their appearances too, whether we judged them by it or not. The phrase beloved of comedians "You were all thinking it, weren't you!" springs to mind.
    I'm writing this because I've observed a reaction somewhere else in the trans community to one of our number. I'm not going to go into detail because it would be unfair on her, but she's very talented at what she does. She's also pretty, I believe she was lucky enough to be able to transition young. I find it unfortunate that I am seeing praise being heaped on her from within the bubble for being pretty, rather than being clever or doing what she does.
    If we don't liberate ourselves from the beauty obsession, what hope have we for those outside the bubble?   


  1. Quite so. But now that I've got agreeing with oy out of the way, a funny story from last week! It was the fallout from that Brick woman's article in the Mil (no links, no revenue for the DM, thank you v much); and I linked to a Bristol feminist blogger's response to it, on my Facebook page. And one of my old seafaring pals said "she's not much of a looker, though, is she? -I've seen better-looking kathoeys..." (he removed the post a short time later after presumably thinking that he may have opened his mouth and put his foot in it...)

    OK, onwards and upwards!

  2. Yes, but while I agree, I think we can all enjoy a compliment based on our looks, it's just that some of us don't get them very often.

  3. After a class that we were the guest lecturers for, one young lady came back to compliment me. She said that she would have never guessed that I was trans and said how pretty I was. I don't get that very often, and I don't expect compliments; but it was nice to be acknowledged.

  4. Why are people so obsessed with looks? They miss the diamonds whilst ogling the costume jewelry.

    Shirley Anne x

  5. Since becoming openly transsexual and going full-time MtF I have found that some men feel that they have the right to comment on your appearance. They seem to feel that they can project their sexuality on to you and then when you don't fit their model of sexual attractiveness they have the right to criticise you for it. I remember one bloke in the street I was walking past looked at me and said "EURGH!" in disgust. I can't imagine that ever happening when I was a bloke.
    To put this in context, I would say 99.9% of the reactions I've had from people have been either positive or indifferent. Never underestimate the indifference of the British people.
    I agree, we do live in a society obsessed with physical beauty. I would like to claim that I'm not but in truth I do find myself obsessing about how I look.

    It was nice to meet you the other week.


  6. Morning all! Lauren, you found the blog, welcome!

    Seafarer's comments: I'm reminded of Admiral Lord West's utterances on Olympic security back in 2009 :)

    To be fair this wasn't about looks on a personal level, more about the judging of the success of a particular project based on the looks of its originator. "Go and take a look at X which has nothing to do with looks, because Y who's behind it looks gorgeous". Which I found rather odd.

    I don't know whether to be flattered or annoyed when people give me the "Wow, you look much better than I expected from knowing the scruffy bloke!" line. Guess you gotta take it where you can get it...

  7. Wot larks! The honourable lord's comments brought to mind a Sunseeker (a v expensive motor yacht, and one inclined to bring out the schadenfreude in the most tolerant of seafarers) that was perched on the quay at Weymouth for some time. The hull had been ripped wide open. The story went that the owner (bloke) had been downstairs at the time of the incident (running into the sewage pipe that runs way out to sea), entertaining a woman who was not his wife.

  8. I think if I motored into the pipe I'd hope such a story was spread around to take attention away from my poor seamanship.