Victoria's Perfect Bodies, Rene Z's Face+The Truly Perfect Body

You've probably seen it by now----10 young women
posed casually in underwear while "The Perfect Body" hovers in the center of the spread. We don't notice the underwear at all, of course. Victoria's Secret is not selling underwear. Their new campaign is all about selling bodies. 

I had a perfect body like that once. For a year, maybe two. All I did to get it was to stop eating. Almost entirely. 

So---these models' bodies are perfect----for what? For selling underwear, maybe? (And--perfect for igniting a national firestorm!) Because we all know just by looking that they are far from perfect for much else. Not perfect for any kind of work or sports or athletics. Not perfect for bringing children into the world.
Not perfect for anything requiring strength, endurance, even simply the energy to get through the day. Look closely.

This same week, I've looked at Rene Zellweger's new face a dozen times already, fascinated and horrified along with nearly everyone else. I cannot help but mourn for her. For all of us.

What are we doing?

We've  come to see our faces and bodies as plastic, man-made material to be shaped and hacked for our whims, our needs, and for others' greed.  

It makes sense. If we are no longer God-made, God-sustained, God-loved, we must find other meaning and value for out bodies and faces. 

For the consumer, bodies are billboards, auctioned off to the highest bidder,

                                                            (Billy the Billboard)

For the technophile and transhumanist, bodies are machines, their failing flesh perfected by metal and gears.

For the aging, bodies and faces are skin to be nipped, tightened and plumped to a facsimile of who we think we once were. 

For the fashion industry, bodies are hangers, the clavicle spaced just right for a designer's drape. 

For athletes and spectators, bodies are meat-and-muscle, bred for bulk or height or heft.

And this is only the start. For too many, our bodies are commodities, and everyone is after "perfect." The highest good, is that we feel good about ourselves. (See Rene Z.'s explanation of her new look here))

I'm not young anymore. I’m trying hard to feel good about myself too, and my increasing, visible changes, but feeling good isn’t enough. I've read articles that instruct women to start their day by standing in front of the mirror, wrapping their arms around  themselves, and reciting, “I love you! You're so beautiful!” for as many times as they need. 

 Surely there’s more to feeling good about ourselves than feeling good about ourselves. I think there is.  I see it on the faces of a few women I know in their 70’s and 80’s, women with wide waists, sagging chests and creased, smiling faces, faces brightly turned to others. These are women who feel good about themselves, but clearly they feel even better about others. 

 My vanity still props me against the mirror every morning massaging high- promise creams into the latest creases and lines. I’m always trying to lose 10 pounds. I  wear shocking red lipstick, splurge occasionally on a fru-fru coat, fret about my varicose veins. I still want to look and feel good.  But more than this and more than ever, I want to BE good.  I want to be the kind of person who sees beyond herself  to others around her. The kind who loves her neighbor like herself, who knows her body is not hers alone but is meant for the good of others. That kind who does for her neighbor what she would like them to do for her, two golden rules that never show their weight or their age. 

Until we know whose bodies these are and what they're for, we'll always get it wrong. 

But when we see women who get it right,  it's so beautiful and perfect---

we should put it on a billboard. 

We should even start a campaign. 

"The Perfect Body"