Saturday, December 02, 2006

whatever happened to the word "handsome"?

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've noticed a fair bit of change in the world since the early 60s, but the particular thing that is on my mind tonight is the way North Americans have changed culturally in the last several decades.

If you watch old movies, if you've watched vintage TV sitcoms or variety shows, i'm sure you know what I mean when i say that I think we've lost something.

I don't really wish to go back to an era in which women were thought of as 'housewives' as if they said their "I dos" to a house, nor to a time when women were called "the little woman". *that term could never apply to me no matter what era I'd live in!!! perhaps when i was 3?* I don't want to think of a world in which "Father Knows Best" cuz let's face it, he doesn't always and neither does Mom! I wouldn't like to see stereotypes of that era remain. . or any era for that matter. But what I wish is just for a little class. . you know? A time before reality tv's incestuous slugfests a la JerrySpringer, or the ridiculously salacious weirdness of "A Surreal Life", a time before the words: 'hot', 'smokin', 'sucks', 'slammin', 'blows', 'ho', 'pimp'. A time when women were 'beautiful', 'graceful', 'lovely' and men were 'handsome', 'suave', 'debonair'. Is there any such thing as feminine mystique anymore? Everything is on display - physically, verbally -- no restraint, no one is demure -- even kids clothing is shrunken down versions of whatever adult fashions are trendy, really disturbing! Not to be cliche, but is chivalry dead? Do we even want men to be chivalrous? Do they want this?. . . and their clothing. . metrosexuals and gay men have a pretty awesome style sense, but there are many guys out there shlumping around in t-shirts, jeans all the time, or they look like they're going hunting, or they're dressing and talking like rappers, when they're not! It drives me crazy when people say things like "That's how i roll". I'm not really wanting to regress in any way. .don't want us all to be buttoned down and uptight, but I feel like we have collectively lost some of our sophistication.

I remember regularly wearing dresses with crinolines as a little girl, with patent shoes for birthday parties, cotton dresses with runners for play, I wore white gloves to church and carried a little handbag. I wore hats on special occasions like Easter. People used to dress up. Things were tucked in (but i'm SO not a fan of tucking!!!). Shoes were buffed and polished. People talked differently to each other. There was more respect in our terminology. . . "Sir", "Ma'am", "Master", "Miss", I was never permitted to address an elder by their first name. . i mean NEVER! We would 'call on' our friends, knocking and asking permission from their parents for our friends to 'come out'. We wrote thank-you notes. We RSVP'd. Commerce was different -- service was the rule, not the exception. Food was different. People were slimmer, yet there was no 'low fat' or 'low carb' talk. . butter, full fat milk was in every kitchen. Portions were smaller. The family table was sacred and abundant. Seasons dictated our diet. People had to 'put up' or 'can', preserve. There was no waste. Even a cup of tea was a different thing. . it used to involve china cups, sugar cubes in silver bowls, which you removed with sugartongs, 'tea sandwiches' (crustless, work of art, inventive sandwiches), tea biscuits (cookies). An after-church 'tea' was one of these amazing, formal occasions. Now, if you want a cup of tea, you just get an earthenware mug, put you tea in it and sit in your track pants curled up in your chair -- WAY more comfy,? YES! But missing something. . . a sense of occasion, specialness.

It used to be that people could be shocked. People still blushed. Dirty laundry wasn't aired so much. . society wasn't so hypersexualized, nor was it so disturbingly desensitized to violence. I know that we can't turn the clock back.. .and i wouldn't think that would be so great, because all the gains we have made would be reversed. . . but couldn't we bring back some of the class, modesty, innocence ? I get so sick of everything and everyone being described as 'hot'. Even Listerine mouthwash has a ridiculous spokeswoman describing herself as a "hot woman" who wants to keep her teeth ". . looking their whitest, brightest and hottest" Whaaaa??? Can teeth even BE hot? They can look nice, but come on!! I get so tired of seeing "Warning, this program may contain scenes of . . . . . . . ." preceding every television show. I grow weary of seeing how much power we ascribe to celebrities. . . Oprah, Dr. Phil, et al, wanting them to be our collective saviours. Society seems so depraved sometimes. I know this is "nothing new under the sun"!! Still, it all gets to me -- you know?

I know that people will continue to change -- that's one thing sure. But wouldn't it be nice to have a little bit of classy change? Some positive change? Some righteous, peaceful change? Some beautiful, spiritual change? Some sense of the sacred, the special. . of treasuring and revering. . And I know its a little thing, but how about this change?. . men and women would no longer be deemed 'hot', rather they would be beautiful and handsome. . .


Lindsay said...

The way society has become really bothers me, too. I especially have issue with the way the media is encouraging children to be. Like you said, the clothes, but the toys, the kiddie cell phones...the other day I was in the store, and their was a girl that couldn't have been older than 12 with the words "Alex is f$#@ing hot" written all over her skintight, extreme low-rise jeans. Disgusting!! I mean, she was still young enough to be buying penny candy with her little sister! And then there's those awful Bratz dolls that are dressed like call girls...but society will change again. This isn't the first time society has been wallowing in depravity - England around the time when the pilgrims split off and went to America was pretty wild and Godless! All it will take is a widespread, cataclysmic event, like the World Wars, the Depression and the Black Plague were, and we're just about due for one of those! Who knows what we'll change into then?

Lindsay said...

Oh my goodness, I used the wrong homonym of 'there'when I was talking about the girl in the store. How embarassing!

Kathryn said...

It is really disturbing, isn't it? Ancient societies have been depraved as well, you're right. Not to worry about your homonym!!! and don't be embarrassed. .that was just a rare slip for you!!

Darcy's Mama said...

This is very interesting and something I've been thinking a lot about lately. It stemmed from two dresses I was given as gifts for Darcy. 20 years ago they would have been perfectly normal dresses to give a baby girl. Now they look old-fashioned and overly poofy. I don't want to put them on her. Yet when I looked at the rest of her closet, the clothes are just miniature versions of what's in my closet. When did the frilly pink dresses become passe?

I went to a seminar last week about the messages we see in advertising and what they're really saying. Scary stuff. We're being brainwashed into believing that it is necessary to be "hot" and on the cutting edge of every trend.

I'm totally with Lindsay on the Bratz dolls too. Those things creep me out. All the little girls I work with have them and want more.

When I see the clothes (or lack thereof) that teen girls are wearing these days, it makes me terrified to think about what they'll be wearing in 12 years when Darcy is a teenager. However, today's trends really mirror what was happening in the 70's and by the 80's everyone was layering themselves and wearing really baggy clothes. I can only hope and pray that trend repeats itself!

Good food for thought here.

Lindsay said...

If Erica had poufy dresses I would totally dress her in them! Only for special occasions, of course. I love dressing little girls up. Pretty dresses, pigtails, frilly tights, patent leather mary janes, the whole nine yards!

Kathryn said...

some good stuff here, ladies.

i was a teenager in the 1970s. . we were practically Victorian compared to what is worn now! tent dresses were hideously popular, everyone looked pregnant. . bat wing blouses, cowl neck sweaters, I supposed if you were going to discos in New York you might wear something slinky. . and the whole 'bra burning' issue was pretty huge back then! Liberation from confining bras, girdles (most women wore them). . all part of the sexual revolution i suppose -- getting away from the June Cleaver with all kinds of women wanting to tell the world that they were still 'hot'. Sue, that conference must have been really good. . did it make you mad? I get mad when i think of the corporate world 'brainwashing' us just so we'll buy into an image and buy their products in order to attain that 'image'. .

Darcy's Mama said...

Kathy, it really did make me mad. I've been really frustrated with the advertising world lately, how they're marketing to children, and just the images they're presenting to us in general.

But mostly I'm sick of seeing naked people advertising perfume or shoes or even furniture.

I also don't want to hear about the antics of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan or Britny Spears anymore. If that's what people are told is "hot" then that's how they're going to want to be.

Let us decide for ourselves!

Kathryn said...

wow. . sounded like a really good awareness-raising time, Sue. It seems that advertisers are ever determined to push the envelope. Even when you take all the sex out of everything. . there is a lot of graphic content in commericals -- those 'worker's comp' commercials in which they show people in horrific workplace accidents. . they're so graphic and bloody.. . i almost feel sick when i see them. Then there's the anti drunk driving commericals in which people are driving in a car, talking to each other and suddenly BAM! They are involved in a head -on collision. I know that people need to be in touch with reality - but i'm not sure getting that visceral is the approach to take? Those collision commercials almost make my heart stop, they're so realistic. These commericals aren't even like being struck with a 'velvet hammer'. . more like a sledgehammer.

Lindsay said...

I LOATHE those workplace safety commercials. They are creepy and disgusting. However, I think the reason why they come on so strong is that people are so desensitized and accustomed to seeing so much now on prime time tv that the advertisers have to go big in order to grab our attention. And it works, doesn't it? People are talking about those commercials, and a couple of weeks ago when I had to get up on a ladder at work, I was thinking about it! And was being very, very careful!

Kathryn said...

yeah, most people i know find those commercials distasteful. You are right - we are extremely desensitized. Some people aren't though -- your grandmother can't watch a lot of things without flipping out. She can't even watch wrestling without getting worked up into a tizzy over the men getting hurt! No matter how many times we told her they were all friends and it was all acting, she wasn't buying it! heh heh. .