The Grass is Greener at the Top
February 15, 2012 § 1 Comment
I agree the reference to the traditional saying “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” is not necessarily apt when applied to images idealized beauty. The media presents a very homogenous image of traditional beauty. There is a single ideal image which all people are expected to hold themselves and all other relative to. Instead of a fence where individuals feel trapped on one side or the other and desire to be more like the other group. I believe the better analogy would be a mountain where the grass appears greenest at the peak.
Society and a person’s own concepts place them at a different point on the mountain and everyone is expected to strive upwards towards the peak. All people, can see the group directly above them and know that their position higher up the slope makes them more attractive and therefore a better person. The group above can look back and be confident in their superiority to the group behind. The differences between them and the groups further up become apparent to them and there is a desire to conform and join the next group up.
The shape of a mountain is really quite appropriate for this concept of relative perception of beauty and social rank. The vast majority of the worlds people are at the bottom of the mountain and as one progresses up the numbers of individuals become smaller and smaller rapidly. Placing an incredibly small group of individuals in position superior to all others for no reason than a more close proximity to an artificial ideal image.
(Side note: In western culture tan skin was also a sign of lower rank for an incredibly long period of time. Women would apply whiting agents to their skin that often contained lead or arsenic and could be toxic. Coco Chanel started the trend for tanning to be a sign the leisure time to sit in the sun and made it a necessary part of fashion. Skin cancer has become the most common form of cancer in the United States and around 50,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma yearly. The most serious form of skin cancer. More then half of those will be women. Seriously, do not tan, it is bad for you.)