Cookie-Cutter Plain

I joined some friends for drinks in Old Montreal to celebrate an engagement on Friday night. We met at the beautiful St. James Hotel, which caters to the well-heeled over-forty crowd. We saw a deeply tanned 60-year-old woman who had obviously had breast augmentation surgery. She was wearing a black mini dress, and when she walked past our table, there were a few comments. "She was well put together," said one. "She didn't have the legs to pull off that dress," said another.

Yes, I agree that she was an attractive woman, but her blond hair, tan and implants are just so common these days. Do these "enhanced" attributes make someone more attractive or just create another cookie-cutter replica--one in a long line of many. On any given day at the St. James Hotel, you can find several women who fit this exact description.

When I left the hotel that night, I was struck by a similar phenomenon. I saw several groups of young girls walking down the street in groups of four and five. They all had long hair and were wearing high-heels, miniskirts and spaghetti strap camisoles. The pastel colours varied slightly, but there really was no distinguishing trait that made one stand out from the other.

Are we buying so blindly into these impossible beauty standards that we can't see our loss of identity? Whatever happened to individual style and originality? What about the beauty in variety?

Please tell me, what's going on?

Related posts:
The Gold Standard of Beauty: Targeting Insecurities
In Response to Impossible Beauty Standards
More Impossible Beauty Standards


Nene | May 21, 2009 at 7:31 AM

Ah, thank you. My sentiments exactly. For the life of me I don't understand why someone mature wants to undergo surgery and dye hair just to look like all the other women, who hasn't quite got *it* either. But i suppose we should ask the males, not eachother?

And the young girls? I seem vaguely to remember a time where I'd prioritise looks over comfort, but it's a long time ago. AND - what's more, in my little youth sub-group we did everything we could to NOT look like all the other youths in the streets. Although amongst ourselves, we had quite a few similarities...

Heather | May 21, 2009 at 8:16 AM

Maybe there's safety in numbers. I'm still struggling with everyone wanting the exact same body dimensions, the blond hair and a tan. It's only May, and we have yet to see any sun-tanning weather. It just seems so artificial.

Anonymous | May 21, 2009 at 11:33 PM

Our culture plays a huge part in the "colonization of women's bodies." We can teach our children that individualism is important but it's hard to protect them from the popular trend that underlies our daily lives. It is now the norm to have some sort of "beautification" procedure and if you don't take advantage of these new medically approved enhancements you are seen as an oddball.
Read Kathryn Pauly Morgans's essay "Women and the Knife: Cosmetic Surgery and the Colonization of Women's Bodies" published in 1991 before botox and non-surgical procedures existed. She basically spells out what was about to happen and did occur over the next 20 years.

Heather | May 22, 2009 at 4:03 AM

Thank you for the reference. I have never heard of that book before. I'll see if I can find it.

I've never heard of it as colonization before, but now I'm intrigued...

I was discussing this at work yesterday. We've always had fashion trends, but now it is so common to see women who are 20 and 50 to be wearing the same things. There's very little style or originality.

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