Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Beauty Standard Denialism

There's an interesting article in the NY Times about the movie I Feel Pretty. It's an interesting rumination on beauty standards. It admits that women shouldn't be punished for choosing to play the game and trying to make it fun. But there are qualms.

That got me thinking standards in general. There are standards and then their are ideals. Standards are something everyone can do and then ideals are often pretty hard to achieve but point in the kind of direction. Any ideal can be turned against someone and used wrong. You can take the spiritual ideal of becoming enlightened, and then beat yourself up for falling short. I'm sure you can do the same for standards. When I think of standards, it's probably someone else using it to point out to someone how they are falling short. If you apply that voice to yourself, it's not going to be great. Then again, living up to the usual standards in society would probably help society move smoother, and not being a difficult person can be a noble goal. When I try to think of a person, though, it feels like I'm trying to sheep dog someone back into the herd. I have qualms about doing that. Be who you are and let the chips fall where they may. I don't so much blame Trump for being who he is, I'm more just embarassed about what that means about America. I'm performing my own denialism about America.

So it's a useful game to reflect on standards and where and how do they apply. Is the standard of womanhood in Catholicism to get pregnant without sex, or is that taking an ideal too far? Marianismo is a real thing, just as I suppose Buddhismo is a real thing. Macho Buddhist posturing that goes past the fake it till you make it push. Again, I feel like it's taking an ideal and just using it wrong, unrealistically and out of proportion, to use it to ill effect.

Can a terrible person still be a Buddhist? I suppose they can up to the point in which what they are doing is against the ideals and vision of Buddhism, and then it becomes dishonest. Is anyone a full Buddhist who is not enlightened. I judge Myanmar for their obvious atrocities against their own people. I must also judge myself as falling short as a Buddhist. As I judge others as cultural Catholics who pay lip service to the ideals, Buddhism would suggest to point the finger at yourself. And yet I'm so far from the ideal. My unexamined trauma confusions have led me astray.

Causes and conditions have created a trajectory and it's hard not to follow that out. I can't imagine that I haven't gained just a little more ownership of that trajectory though that might just be a useful fiction to get me more motivated. The goal of enlightenment is to move through the uncaused and unconditioned, though it becomes a by mystical when you talk about the transcendental because you can't accurately talk about it. Spirituality isn't something rationality can tame, but you can tame your rationality with spirituality.

Authenticity is the antidote for taking standards and ideals wrong. Be honest with what is going on and the limits of fake it till you make it. Be honest about where you are pushing yourself outside the limits of what you really inhabit. Inhabiting where you are seems to one of the drums many teachers beat on. Finding out where you really are is the goal of the inward journey. We are also our ideals and vision that guide us, even when we fall short. I hope that Amanda Hess can accept it that she fall short of the beauty ideal, and blokes like me find her physical appearance fine (thank you for asking), find her intellectual chops as more rounding out the whole person. Relate to your ideals in a healthy way and it's great your conscious of them. Are spiritual ideals the most important ones to reflect on? I'm pretty sure she doesn't need my musings, just like Amy Schumer--well, I bet she likes the review because it's good journalism.

Please write what movies helped you to reflect on spiritual ideals in the comments, and how.

The French movie The Innocents, about the Polish nuns who turn up pregnant after being raped by retreating troops during WW2. It exposes my judgementalism about nuns, and then thoughts about spiritual institutions--they should not care how things look and just take care of people. I have ideals about a spiritual tradition that is not even my own. I cast them in terms of my own ideas about the great spirituality that all religions participate in.

Another movie is Into Great Silence. I never got around to finishing the movie when it was available to me, but I hope some day that I can.

Another movie is Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall... Spring. I still cringe at people setting fire to themselves, what a horrible way to go--their point is that they are beyond that. I thought the climbing the mountain with a stone dragging along was a bit contrived, but to be honest, thinking about it, it makes sense. I can't help but see him doing his karate on the ice and slipping and falling, which he hides by quickly getting up.

I love Milarepa as a person and the movie that highlights his anger at relatives doesn't focus on the part of his spiritual life that I want to. Perhaps that is my own prejudice. Maybe I want to see the striving not the grist for the mill.

I'm sure more movies will come to me and I can write about them. Thank you Amanda Hess. My reaction to your reaction is a profitable line of thought.

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