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Ideal

Main Entry: 1ide·al
Pronunciation: I-'dE(-&)l, 'I-"
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English ydeall, from Late Latin idealis, from Latin idea
Date: 15th century
1 : existing as an archetypal idea
2 a : existing as a mental image or in fancy or imagination only; broadly : lacking practicality b : relating to or constituting mental images, ideas , or conceptions
3 a : of, relating to, or embodying an ideal b : conforming exactly to an ideal, law, or standard : PERFECT -- compare REAL 2b(3)
4 : of or relating to philosophical idealism


So I was thinking, all the time I fight against what I feel are society's ideals for beauty. But I have my own ideals about what is beautiful, and they are pretty specific. I mean, that is what the word determines, right? So am I fighting to change the ideals? Or am I fighting to destroy them completely, so that there is no ideal? And only real? Is destroying ideals even a good thing to do? Or wait, maybe it's that I just want people to be aware that the ideal is the ideal, and that real people aren't like that, so fucking stop getting boob jobs and be happy with how you are... ok, alright, maybe I'm just too stringent about my feelings to leave it go at that. Fuck the ideal! Bring on the real!

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
rob_donoghue
Feb. 25th, 2002 08:20 am (UTC)
Ultimately, the beauty ideal is just one on a long line of impossible images that people feel obliged to try to live up to - it just happens to be the one that requires surgery. It's grotesque, certainly, but on a certain level is it any scarier than other ideals: The Perfect family? The perfect marriage? The perfect home? Extreme Sports Advertisement?

Is this the sort of thing that can really be crusaded against? Or is it a sort of hydra - kill one stupid idea and 2 more will spring up to replace it? How much stupidity is inevitable?

I've been finding myself more and more tolerant of stupidity as a concept of late, since it allows me a certain yardstick for measuring people (As, in my infinite conceit, I am wont to do :)). There will always be stupid options available, and I can chose to deal with peopel who chose the fewest, or perhaps merely the most acceptable, stupid options.

Dunno. Comes back to a variation on Zappa's Law. Everybody's stupid to somebody.
snidegrrl
Feb. 25th, 2002 11:33 pm (UTC)
i just realized, i need to put this in another perspective for myself; what about ideals of community? i carry a GREAT deal of baggage about that around. i call myself a socialist from time to time, and i KNOW that's an ideal situation that i envision...

i think in this case, yesterday i was making an extreme statement out of rage... and to a certain extent, i believe that the world needs extreme statements and extreme viewpoints to give balance, to keep people on their toes.

not that very many people out there are so alert and concerned. but then, maybe those people know something i don't know... which is how to chill out and not be a humorless whiner. :)
mikailborg
Feb. 25th, 2002 05:40 pm (UTC)
Some ideals are worth having... for example, the ideal that people ought to grow up and learn to treat each other decently no matter what their physical appearance.

Another ideal I carry, is that when forming their beliefs and self-images, people would put more stock in what's in their own hearts than in what people tell them to think. However, that attitude seems to get more and more rare.
snidegrrl
Feb. 25th, 2002 11:26 pm (UTC)
I believe it should go further than treating someone decently; I think people should be treated equally, the same, and with equal respect; decently is just the beginning. :)

As far as people putting stock in what they themselves think... that's a terrific idea. Unless they happen to disagree with me. ;)
snidegrrl
Feb. 25th, 2002 11:28 pm (UTC)
oh and um, i want to make it clear; i'm not free of guilt in this area myself. i do try to be eternally vigilant with my attitudes, though.
malkin
Feb. 26th, 2002 02:11 pm (UTC)
Bite me, Plato.
I think that ideals are fine things when they are ideals to which one might aspire. The trouble is that some percentage of our physical appearance is mapped out in a bunch of twisty little molecules, and there's not a damn thing in the world we can do about it. Moreover, even if we perfectly fit our society's ideals for beauty, one day, we will no longer. Sooner or later, we are all destined to fail on that measure, without recourse.

The enduring standard of beauty finds its roots in mate selection. Some aspects of our modern western ideal (clear skin, breasts), extend from this hard-wired ideal, and others (the demand for slenderness) are purely cultural. Unfortunately, it's so deepy ingrained into us, as animals, that it is not likely to be something that is easy -- or even possible to topple.

The question remains, however, if we cannot topple this ideal, then what can we do? We can affect how people view the ideal, and react to it. We can even make fun of the ideal. Humans do many things that are contrary to our animal nature. It's part of what makes us human.

Here is an interesting philosophical question: Is it better to praise someone for beauty or for intelligence? The answer seems simple at first, but it is really a trick question. Humans don't work for their intelligence any more than they work for their beauty. In fact, it is even harder to change one's intelligence than it is to change one's beauty. While an intelligent person may have more potential to contribute something valuable to society, he or she is no more inherently virtuous than a beautiful person is. It is only how we use our gifts that make us worthy of praise, and not the gifts, themselves.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )