Whatever the ideal, the energy put into achieving it is relentless. When I watch a woman paint I am always amazed by the passion she has for endlessly fussing over and fixing her paintings. Spontaneity is out of the question. She just takes it for granted that her painting must be well thought out, planned, and organized , and under as much of her control as is humanly possible. She is used to not trusting in her own innate beauty, and expects that the quest for beauty will entail nonstop work. She never questions the ceaseless dieting and exercising, the hours spent shopping for just the right outfit and the worrying over her skin, her hair, her nails. She always has and always will fall short of the beauty mark and just assumes that beauty is something she will continually struggle for and rarely, if ever, achieve.
The really sad thing is that she sees nothing wrong with this fretful and anxious approach to her self and to her artwork.This ceaseless and ultimately hopeless striving for the unattainable ideal is just the norm. It's really the only thing she has ever known.
These narrow constraints of beauty that a woman finds herself tangled in are always some variation on the Good Girl creed. These socially accepted standards are based on a definition of beauty that is related to being nice and non threatening, to not standing out too much and conforming to an established norm that is pleasant but not powerful. Beauty is related to compliance and convention, to following the rules and to fitting in. The Good Girl beauty ideal means that it's not OK to just be herself, warts and all. She needs to clean herself up and make herself acceptable.