Sunday, 1 April 2012

Handsome Girls and Beautiful Boys

Psychology of words

Observing the latest trends on how we perceive attractiveness in gender, the use of adjectives to describe 'beauty' in males and females is changing. Not so long ago, to be beautiful or handsome is dependent on our gender. Not so now with the fervour of fashion and what is a la mode.

Androgyny is being neither overwhelmingly male nor female. But, being perceived pretty or beautiful is no longer inherent to being female. Cue, beautiful boys or men, the looks of charming feminine features in a male is on the increase for acknowledgement. Not speaking of just facial features and mannerisms, I observe that men who have spoken of being in tune with their feminine side, as opposed to being out and out macho a la 'John Wayne' types are on the rise and lauded.

How did we get here? well, beauty is subjective and juxtaposing beauty, a soft feminine trait on hard masculine types is a marriage of opposites which we find intriguing. The converse is masculinity in women which could be an oxymoron state.

I wonder if being a boyish girl or mannish woman is just as appealing? we ( women) adopt the androgynous look by wearing men's clothing, hairstyle, play down womanly features minus the gruff and the rough of manliness. Fashion have played on this with the androgyny of tailored suits and smoking jackets for women who want the look. At the end of the day, is just a look, and not a perpetual state.

Can we take it further and use it to play with the 'big boys' sitting on the round table? After all, a look is a look, but can it translate to a state of mind? Further more, is it acceptable for women to display manly traits? If it is all just makeup and clothes, then it could easily be washed off and discarded, so it is just facade.

'Anything  you can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than you!'

 Well, feminism have taken this further by pushing for women to be equals and further that by being exceptional than their counterparts. What men are doing now : they can be manly and just as womanly, do the womanly things too ( and better yet, have women acknowledge that they ( men) are just as in touch with their 'other side').At the moment wearing a dress is not quite the done thing, but this could all change too as fashion is yet to tap this.

I come back to my observation that no where have I read women described as handsome ( other than in books where mature, generously proportioned women are given the 'handsome and haughty' treatment). Men however, are increasingly acknowledged for their prettiness and beautiful-ness without compromising their manliness and therefore their appeal to the opposite sex maintained.

If women were to be described as handsome, macho or 'hard', the effect is likely to be a downgrading of their womanliness and therefore a decrease in their appeal to men. The stigma of adjectives on genders is powerful as it has implications on the perception of gender related attributes. Language, culture, fashion, media and psychology are integral whether we like it or not. The inability to unlearn centuries of normative beliefs lead to stigma.

But it seems, men can dip in and out with little difficulty, and in my opinion it is likely to be due to the magnanimity of women who are accepting of dualisms. Men can indeed be beautiful and pretty in our eyes, but maybe, just maybe, we women need to be equally as magnanimous to women who are adjective(d) as handsome or rugged before men can take that leap.

What say you to this Ladies?

MS xoxo

No comments:

Post a Comment