Tag Archives: vanity

Body Adornment or Modification

body adoarnment, body modification, piercing, tattoos, body ornaments, fetish,

This image shows to types of body decoration, neither permanent: jewelery and mehndi. Creative Commons: Henna Designs

I’ve had some interesting comments on the post about genital bleaching. Some people defend it as just another way of decorating ourselves, such as having tattoos or piercings. This is actually inaccurate. While a tattoo or a piercing is a body modification, it is also body adornment or decoration. True, there are some piercings that veer from being only decoration (and used for enhancement of sensations or fetishism–bondage, humiliation, etc.) but for the majority it is about decorating the body in some way.

This is extreme body adornment and modification. Creative Commons Boing Boing

This is extreme body adornment and modification. Creative Commons Boing Boing

It’s true that humanity has been doing this as long as we’ve been building shelters and making things. Stuff…adornments, decorations, artifacts are what define civilizations. It’s an inherent part of our nature. Otherwise we wouldn’t have a vibrant fashion industry, laws and rules throughout the ages regulating clothing and dyes and styles, nor many types of jewellery. So, yes humans have been decorating themselves forever and continue to do so except for those religions that try to suppress human nature.

But a pure body modification is not necessarily adornment. Sometimes it’s a medical necessity, such as a disfigurement that is painful or limiting of a person’s movement. It might be surgery after an illness, disease or accident that requires a modification. Or it might be for decoration. Obviously, piercings modify the body’s structure to some degree. Any piercing you can see is one of decoration, though it can mean more. Those that you can’t see, such as breasts, genitalia or the subcutaneous implants might be body adornment as well. Like I said, some people do these piercings for ritualistic or fetishistic reasons. It may give them a sexual thrill, indicate they are into some form of fetishistic situation such as domination or submission, be a form of emotional catharsis, or be part of a religious practice.

I suppose anal bleaching could be religious. I certainly don’t know all of the spiritual practices out there. However, it seems that unless you’re a porn star where your butthole is displayed on screen that in fact it’s not decoration, so comparing a pierced ear or a tattooed arm to a bleached anus is not the same thing at all. I’d be happy to hear arguments that indicate this falls under decorating the body as opposed to modifying. Yes, both could be seen as forms of beautification and can definitely fall under fetish, or body modification. In this case when one has a nose job, a scar removed, a circumcision, a breast implant, or the genitalia bleached, it is body modification, whether it is for health reasons or vanity. I will still maintain that a person who worries that their labia isn’t pretty enough or their butthole of the right shade, has got their priorities mixed up.

skin bleaching, vanity, body modification, adornment, skin, blemishes

Skin whitening can be done to remove discolorations caused by sun or birthmarks but do you really need it where the sun don’t shine? Creative Commons: Tribune

This sort of worry is what creates a society where anorexia runs rampant, where we’re stuck on any flaw or imperfection as bad because we watch movies or look at magazines where people are lit, done up in make up and airbrushed to godlike proportions. Relationships become harder to maintain because they’re based on superficial forms of attraction. This isn’t about being confident; it’s about lacking confidence so much that you worry about what anyone will think of every aspect of your body.

We’re losing perspective. Personality and being human is what really matters, and going down the road of worrying about the shade of your genitalia, how your pubic hair curls, whether your toenails grow the right thickness and if your neck is long enough is trying to change how we were born. It’s an unending battle and a slippery slope. Michael Jackson is a fine example of someone who couldn’t stop trying to be someone else, to the point of having extreme cosmetic surgery and bleaching his skin so he looked less black. His talent was in his voice and his musical skills. His downfall was in his quest to be someone else.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under art, Culture, fashion, health, people, religion

Vanity Gone Too Far: Genital Bleaching

skin bleaching, anus, anal bleaching, health, skin lightening

Perhaps a strategically placed flashlight would work just as well. From: newspitter.com

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’re worrying about bleaching parts of your nether regions then you need to get your head out of those areas and go smell the flowers. And I mean that literally. Some of you might be wondering what I’m talking about.

There has been a prevalence in recent years for some people to bleach their anuses. Yes, truly. It seems it was something that porn stars did to enhance an overall skin tone¬† for the camera. Where else are you going to have bright lights shining down upon your genitalia, except maybe in the doctor’s office? But somehow, some vapid, silly people got it into their heads that human beings should be of one even color, even the places where the light don’t shine. They think everyone comes airbrushed like Playboy model pictures, porn stars and people in the movies who are lit, pomaded and dressed to look perfect.

We can of course blame media, the internet and the hyper sexualization for this offense. Why yes, I hope to be judged on the color of my butthole because obviously my intelligence matters least of all, then my personality, then my face. Yes yes, let’s prove who is the biggest ass; it’s those who worry about the color of their skin to the most minute degree. I would say that only white people do this because otherwise it would be a bright and shining star in a very odd place, but guess what? Other races or people of darker skin tones worry about lightening all of their skin. They want to be of a lighter tone. Michael Jackson was a fine example of taking the removal of skin pigmentation too far. If you’re bleaching your butthole, there are more things wrong with you than skin tone, unless you plan on being a porn star.

genital bleaching, skin lightening, culture, self-image, unhealthy fascination, narcissism

Because black people want to be white? What's wrong with this beautiful woman's skin tone? Nothing. From: blackskinlightening.com

Have I mentioned that anal whitening has also spread to the vagina? Oh yes, we want our labia bleached perfectly too. People might get certain skin conditions such as varicose veins or the redness of rosacea taken care of. That’s one thing and those conditions have other complications. But a human’s skin tone is not a condition; it’s part of nature’s pattern. Seriously, I have heard fewer things more ludicrous than bleaching genitalia, and any person who is more concerned about the color and tone of my genitals and anus is more of an ass than I care to talk to. I wont even get into the dangers of bleaching areas of such delicate nature. Clearly the people doing this have no idea that humans are made of varying textures and tones of skin, wrinkles, creases, dimples, beauty marks and birthmarks, moles and other differences. We are a landscape, not a blank canvas.

Once upon a time we worried about a good fit with someone as a partner. We also tried to fight racism and judging someone based on the color of their skin. We used to contemplate our navels. Now we’re contemplating asses.

12 Comments

Filed under Culture, fashion, health, people

Vanity Searches

I spent a couple of hours this week searching myself out. Why? To fluff up my ego? Hardly likely. A vanity search will often reveal how insignificant we are in terms of the Google universe. At least I’m on the first google page but not so much for my published stories as for this blog. So maybe I’m the second most famous Colleen, on Google, for what it’s worth. Which is not much.

But still, I thought I better find what’s listed about me before it all disappears. Should there come a day for me to prove I published something or to apply for a grant, then in some cases this may be the only published proof, such as my online flash fiction “On Wings of Angels” in Vestal Review7. I found that still up and printed the page since I didn’t have a “published” copy, it being only internet published.

The vanity search also let me find out I had received two honorable mentions for my story “Hold Back the Night,” which had appeared in the Red Deer Press Open Space anthology. I’d known I had received an honorable mention in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best SF, but only a few years later did I find out the story had received the same in Datlow and Windling’s Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. One story, both SF and fantasy honorable mentions, when there was no SF I know of in it. ūüôā But who’s complaining: not me. Still, the vanity search has shown what few reviews of my work are still out there and though none scream that my work is stellar, most don’t say it sucks either. And I do have the distinction of “Hold Back the Night” being the only story in the anthology to receive two honorable mentions, plus having been shortlisted for the Gaylactic Spectrum award (a gay character in speculative fiction), which I only ever found on the net and otherwise didn’t know about either.

But still, I’m a small pea in a large pod and there are a lot of Colleen Andersons, some 80 google pages in fact. There is a songwriter and poet (Mother Wit) who seems to have the most hits, plus another writer with the same name. There’s a minister, a scientist, a professor, a real estate agent, a tax assessor, a nurse, etc. Of course I’m some of these things too. But I’m certainly not the only Colleen Anderson and perhaps I’m not the real one. I’ve run into a couple others in this city alone.

Still, a vanity search can be enlightening in just how many of your posts or even how your address ends up on the internet. I can’t help but think of my childhood nemesis Laura Morse who lived two doors down from me. We met at the age of 4 and never liked each other, and had the dubious pleasure of spending grades 1-12 together, going to the same schools. Her younger brother and mine were the best of friends. We were barely playmates. She used to say she would only read books that had her name in them.

Searching for Laura Morse today doesn’t turn up her name but then she married and changed her last name. Yet, google might still be useful to her if she has to find books with Laura in them (more by authors though, than characters, though google’s new wish to scan everything would change that). One can only hope her horizons have broadened.

And we, that fill one page in 8o, hope that some day there may be many pages, indicating perhaps a rise in pay for being a writer. Of course, one could always do something notorious and then your name would rise on the google listings. In the meantime, I now have printed copies of any reviews, should I decide to try and get a grant for writing speculative fiction. Hmm, I think I’ll wait a bit longer.

Leave a comment

Filed under art, Culture, fantasy, horror, internet, people, Publishing, science fiction, Writing

You’re So Vain

Vanity. It’s usually said in disparaging ways, that a vain person is a bad thing. And is it? The dictionary says it is conceit, or having an excessively high regard for one’s self, looks, possessions or¬†ability. Arrogance is related with its overbearing pride or self-importance.

The worst case of vanity and arrogance I ever saw was a boyfriend who believed that every time a woman talked to him, even if she was asking him the time, was because she wanted him. He believed everyone loved him and that he knew things no one else knew, had experienced events that no one else had ever experienced. But he was more arrogant than vain though it’s a slim line between the two.

A person who is extremely vain is often a narcissist, stuck in self-love and importance, appearance or abilities. They’re more concerned with how they look and what they do, than the world, people or events around them. They’re given to talking about themselves a lot. Like the joke¬†goes, “Enough about me. What do you think about me?” And¬†Carly Simon’s ¬†song (You’re so Vain) of course frames it well, “You had one eye in the mirror as you watched yourself go by…”

I once dated a narcissist. Later, “as friends” we got together for coffee. Jon talked about his job, his family, his dog. He paused and there was silence since I had decided to let him be the first to ask how I was. I’d asked him about himself, his job, etc. but never once did he actually ask me anything about what I was doing, not even “how are you?”. After the pause, he talked about his love life, his place, himself. When we left, Jon had not asked me a thing. I could have had kittens and he wouldn’t have known. Not a great person to date.

Narcissists may go farther with their self-importance and date people who look like them. I remember a girl in school who once said, “I only read books where the character has the name Laura.” Guess what her name was? These are the worst aspects of vanity, self-involvement, where perspective centers only on self, believing one is always the best and that no one can compare.

But not all vanity is bad. The opposite end is humility, yet false humility is another form of vanity, where you extol the virtues of being humble in a way that makes you look better than anyone else for sacrificing so much.

Taking care of your appearance beyond simple grooming is caring about how you look and is a vanity. Does a hairstyle or particular color look better on you? Do you wear wrinkled clothes or items in a dirty or slovenly manner? Do you take pride in your appearance? Do you try to stay in shape, not just to feel better, but to look better?

It is not wrong to feel pride or feel good about how you look. In fact, someone who doesn’t care at all may have other emotional problems like low self-esteem or depression. It’s the absence of balance that is always the problem. Talk about how you look but then notice how the other person looks. Talk about what you’ve been doing but give a person fair share in time and show interest. There are people who can’t start conversations because they don’t know how to ask a question about someone else. They expect everyone to ask about them and they can go on.

Sometimes it isn’t so much vanity as the person may lack some social aspects, learning only to talk about what they know, sometimes incessantly. Chatterboxes can put you to sleep because they don’t allow anyone to get an word in or interact. They may be narcissist or vain or just inept on the nuances of conversation.

We all have moments when we want the attention on us. It’s human nature to want to feel special, to shine at some aspect of our lives. But we have to share the limelight. It’s all right to be selfish sometimes and say me first, or it’s about me. I’ve been accused of making things all about me when I tried to stop a friend from physically fighting with another friend who had just slept with someone not his wife. That man accused me of making it all about me when somehow I was trying to help him save his marriage. I said, when we talked afterward, that yes, it was about me in that I was selfish and liked my friends and didn’t want to see them broken up and that I wanted them happy. That’s my selfishness. I have found sometimes that people will accuse someone of vanity at the weirdest times for completely unrelated things. I’m beginning to realize that this can be a misfired plea for some attention.

So if you say, “Wow, look at this poster.” And your friend says, “Oh everything always has to be about you,” then maybe what they’re saying is, “Me, me, look at me.” You may have to say, “What do you think about this poster?” People are weird and vanity tempered with humility is probably the best way to go.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, life, memories, people, relationships

Hair-Raising History

Once we were much hairier. Well, our evolutionary ancestors were anyway. And depending on what ethnic stew you come from you may find yourself of a hairier variety. But hairstyles have been coming and going for thousands of years. I’m sure Grog the caveman (he’s popular, this Grog) and Progla the cavewoman didn’t much care what their hair did and they hadn’t invented scissors yet. The best they could do was chip a piece of stone and saw away at the rat’s nest.

Hairstyles progressed in different ways in various geographies. The Egyptians were big on shaving their heads in the heat and making elaborate wigs, for the nobles at least. Hieroglyphics show that they’d put a cone of perfumed fat on their noggins and let it slowly melt over their bodies. I can only think that that would have made me itchy in the heat.

Babylonian men were curling and coiling their naturally wavy locks and beards into elaborate patterns, as were other cultures. Along the way, some places developed moral codes that affected how people could wear their hair. Men were to have beards but not before marriage, heads were to be covered or not. Unmarried women could wear their hair loose (and were usually young girls) but once married they were braided or coiffed and often under veils and headdresses. Turbans, veils, hats, caps and other headwear were used to hide hair. Many of these moral codes had to do with the religious bodies of the day and perceived wantonness/evil/bucking authority depending on the flavor.

Within those countries there was often an accepted style to hair that you could be sure the upper classes wore. We have fewer images less of the poor and lower classes but they would, by fact of having less money, have worn their hair plainer but affecting the stylish modes as much as they could. There weren’t as many varieties of hairstyles and new ones would have come from neighboring countries. Egyptian slaves had shaved heads and no wigs. During the baroque and rococo periods women’s hair attained new heights with hats and shapes, such as a full galleon cresting the waves of curled and pinned tresses. The merchant and working classes would have had simpler styles, less lofty and easier for a person to arrange on themselves, rather than needing¬†a team of hairdressers.

When I was researching medieval and renaissance Sottish and Irish dress I came across a style worn by young warriors. The head shaved close over the back and sides but hair left long to hang forward only over the brow. While this may have been partly expedient for wearing under fighting helms and coifs and part vanity, it also shows the punk hairstyles of the 80s were not so new.

Variations on the theme continue with some new twists being added. The punk movement brought along a literal rainbow of colors. I wouldn’t doubt if some dyes had been tried in centuries past, maybe something mixed with mud and applied. Not everything is recorded. We cut our hair short, we leave it long, we perm it into curls, we madly straighten it, we shave our heads, a few of us still do comb-overs (Donald Trump…ick). We make it uneven, we cut patterns into it, we braid, twist and otherwise add adornments like scarves, hats, pins, clips, etc. Some people have had implants put under their skin so that the skull takes on a bumpy pattern or to snap prosthetic hair pieces or horns even, onto their heads.

I’ve worn my hair short and mostly long, straight and curly and turquoise, blue, purple, magenta and red, in streaks, mind you, plus the regular blondes and brunettes. When doing shows, hairdressers treat hair as a medium on which to create their transitory art. Humanity tends to treat the body, from hair to nails, as a canvas. We play with it, we decorate it, sometimes we permanently change it. Hair is a renewable medium, for most of us. It allows us to experiment and try something new and either cut it off or grow it out if it doesn’t work. There have even been a few memorable movies/plays about it: Shampoo, Hairspray and give me down to there, Hair.

What will be the next follicle fad? What will be repeated? Who knows but I’m waiting for the day that they can actually create true metallic colors: copper, silver, gold, gunmetal. Maybe by the time I’m gray I’ll be able to go for robot silver instead.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, entertainment, fashion, history, life, people, religion

Fashion Camouflage

Throughout humanity’s history, we’ve used clothes for camouflage. I’m not talking about camo gear and leaf markings on your face to hide in the shadows while carrying out some special ops espionage. Although that is the most blatant aspect of camouflage it’s not the most prevalent.

Besides the basics of keeping ourselves warm, we started to wear clothing for a host of other reasons. Ritualistically, masks, accessories¬†and robes were donned to imitate a spirit or element or to make oneself pure or sacred in the eyes of the gods. Along the way standards of modesty and morality came in to play. Genitalia are a vulnerable area on most creatures, and for humans many other connotations are attached, such as virility, power, immortality, continuance of family. Religious aspects and beliefs, as well as just hiding something mysterious and scary (a woman’s womb has often been related to the underworld) combined to cover the genital areas first.

In African countries, other warm climes, and throughout periods of history, women’s breasts were not always considered erogenous, and therefore did not need covering. A period of Elizabethan dress had the decolletage so low that the nipples were visible. But that is more revealing than camouflaging.

Yet, we’ve used camouflage to enhance our bodies for a long time. Elizabethan men wore pads of horsehair to give the right line to their calves under their hose, as well as padding to form the preferred peascod bellies. And then there were those codpieces to make the genitals look way larger than they were. Women wore corsets to slim their waists, or bustles on the backs of dresses to enhance the womanly shape. Shoes of varying heights have been worn to convey status or make a person taller.

We do the same today. Slimline jeans with no pockets to show off the curves and line of a woman’s leg and hip. Padded and uplift bras to make the breasts look larger, men’s underwear (and chaps) that may shape and define the genitals or butt, (some of this for gay culture but not all), tuxes or other James Bond jackets for that sophisiticated, I-have-plenty-of-money look.

Makeup, since at least the Egyptians, has also been used for enhancement or to comouflage plainness, blemishes, birthmarks, or whatever reason was required. Wigs and toupees have been worn for many centuries as status symbols, to change one’s looks, to make it look like a person had hair. It’s not a new thing and most people do look better in clothes because they cover up all sorts of imperfections. Fashion can highlight a person’s good points, change the line that the eye follows so that a person looks taller, broader, slimmer, bustier, etc.

Until we hit the day that we have our own heat generating forcefields, have tossed vanity and modesty to the side and do not need possessions or adornment, I think humans will continue to dress in a myriad of fashions, as well as camouflaging what is not seen as the current trend and fashion for bodies and looks. The realm of phsical changes has its own history, but that’s for another day. We may yet hit again a look where flat chested, twiggy and adrogynous shapes are considered sexy and then the padded bras and fitted clothing will disappear…for awhile.

1 Comment

Filed under Culture, entertainment, fashion, history, life, people, relationships, security, sex