02 August 2019 | Jia Tolentino | The Guardian Long Read
The ideal woman has always been generic. I bet you can picture the version of her that runs the show today.
She’s of indeterminate age but resolutely youthful presentation. She’s got glossy hair and the clean, shameless expression of a person who believes she was made to be looked at.
She is often luxuriating when you see her – on remote beaches, under stars in the desert, across a carefully styled table, surrounded by beautiful possessions or photogenic friends.
Showcasing herself at leisure is either the bulk of her work or an essential part of it; in this, she is not so unusual – for many people today, especially for women, packaging and broadcasting your image is a readily monetizable skill.
She has a personal brand, and probably a boyfriend or husband: he is the physical realization of her constant, unseen audience, reaffirming her status as an interesting subject, a worthy object, a self-generating spectacle with a viewership attached.
Can you see this woman yet? She looks like an Instagram – which is to say, an ordinary woman reproducing the lessons of the marketplace, which is how an ordinary woman evolves into an ideal.
The process requires maximal obedience on the part of the woman in question, and – ideally – her genuine enthusiasm, too. This woman is sincerely interested in whatever the market demands of her (good looks, the impression of indefinitely extended youth, advanced skills in self-presentation and self-surveillance).
She is equally interested in whatever the market offers her – in the tools that will allow her to look more appealing, to be even more endlessly presentable, to wring as much value out of her particular position as she can.
The ideal woman, in other words, is always optimizing. She takes advantage of technology, both in the way she broadcasts her image and in the meticulous improvement of that image itself. Her hair looks expensive.
She spends lots of money taking care of her skin, a process that has taken on the holy aspect of a spiritual ritual and the mundane regularity of setting a morning alarm.
Read more at Original Link: Athleisure, barre and kale: the tyranny of the ideal woman