I seem to be unable to share these posts about beauty in anything that resembles a timely manner. The fear that what I’m posting is misrepresentation paralyzes me, at least a little. It seems that as soon as I begin to think that I’ve come to an understanding of some of the local beauty standards, I inevitably end up having a conversation or two where my previous thoughts and understanding get contradicted a little or thoroughly rearranged. These kinds of events make me wonder whether these thoughts about beauty, and beauty as seen by the Chinese, bear any relationship to reality at all?
I think one reason for these seemingly contradictory conversations and my continuing inability to pin things down more clearly is the ever broadening influence of Western culture, piggybacked in by movies and media. Obviously, some people have been more influenced by these things than others, unknowing recipients who slowly become conditioned to appreciate the current forms of “beauty” being marketed in media from the West. Of course, this is just one factor of many.
I guess in a way, this is just an illustration of how the definition of “beauty” and what we come to see as beautiful is a complex thing. Aesthetic sensibilities, historical frame of reference, cultural and sociological conditioning, and genetic predispositions in a given population all play a part, not to mention personal taste and preference. What is seen as “beautiful” changes over place, time, and location. It’s hard to define. Perhaps my fears about misrepresenting what is considered beautiful here in China actually have less to do with the specific situation here, and more to do with the reality that worldwide our definitions of beauty seem to be in continuous flux; shifting and changing within our various cultural contexts, shaped by the past and present and impacted by outside influences.
Now that I’ve made my very large disclaimer, I’ll carry on as planned. The next post should be something regarding the female body. After that, there should be another on “sexiness” and then, if you’re really lucky, some thoughts that my female friends have shared with me about what makes a guy “really, really ridiculously good looking.”