Everybody is distressingly attractive. I mean, attractive according to mainstream beauty standards (but which I will hereafter refer to as just “attractive”).
The writerly side of me has been a little bit fascinated, and the adolescent side of me has been pretty self-conscious for a month and a half. Meanwhile, the sociological side of me has been pondering: how exactly does this happen to a city? Do communities of attractive people tend to gravitate towards each other, unconsciously excluding less-beautiful people? Or does the population here simply live a certain type of lifestyle (outdoorsy, physically active) that creates a fitter, tanner populace?
I was keeping this observation under wraps, not wanting to seem judgmental, until I browsed through the Boulder Craigslist job listings the other day and found that 75% of the “gigs” are in fact “modeling gigs.” Coincidence? I think not.
Then, I was at the farmers market buying some delicious Noosa yogurt, when I overheard the woman next to me asking whether it was low-fat. (….No, lady, it’s um, actually yogurt. You’re not shoppin’ at Whole Foods here)
A friend of mine who was born and raised here talks about her parents generation having all moved out here in the 70’s and 80’s, looking for a healthier life and healthier community. Fair enough– that explains the homogeneity of the populace. It also explains why there are no old people here…
In Which She Gets A Bit Critical
But the crucial thing to realize about a population of attractive people is that it is directly related to how wealthy that population is. Where I’m from (the area somewhere between the South and Appalachia), people are not mainstream attractive, because they can’t afford to be. They don’t have access to healthy diets, so obesity is rampant; the unavailability of health care means that it’s not unusual to see people with missing teeth, bad teeth, deformities and skin cancer… the list goes on.
In academic discussions, we refer to this as “marking” bodies with poverty: it’s the way that a person’s economic status becomes literally visible in his or her appearance. Structures in our society, like health care or welfare, contribute to this visible distinction between poor and rich by preventing poor people from achieving standards of beauty (which, from healthy food to well-tailored clothing to teeth whitening, require money).
Don’t get me wrong– I’m not saying that any person or institution is doing this on purpose. But keeping these economic distinctions visible does benefit those in power, because it discourages interaction between different economic classes. Think about it– when was the last time that you had small talk with a person that clearly looked below your economic status? And as a result, there is a serious lack of empathy (and activism) in general for the experience of poverty… and therefore little change.
Two years ago, I almost titled this blog “Blogging for Dialogue” because I wanted to write about the importance of healthy dialogue across differences– especially in the hearing, and the telling, of stories. Clearly I went for a vaguer theme (um, fruit), but this sort of thing is still on my mind.