Beauty, youth and slimness as the triad of femininity. This is how gender tradition has marked it.
An ideal achieved through effort, sacrifice and self-destruction. A mechanism of control over a woman’s body.
A fictional woman.
Submission to aesthetic norms is a demand that makes invisible those who do not fit the canon.
Norma Desmond had too many wrinkles for the film industry. Expectations have to be met.
Women see, shape and judge their image against cultural ideals, said Lynda Nead.
And cultural ideals penalise old age. So does fatness. You look good, but with two kilos less you’d be perfect.
Perfect. Because physical imperfection is a defect,
even a disease that requires surgery.
The body of Cristina Toledo’s women is a body under siege. Your Body Is a Battleground
It is an occupied territory in the words of Carla Rice: When we look at ourselves through the dominant eye,
we become self-critical and judgmental.
Society inhabits our bodies.
It inhabits them as objects of desire and as subjects of consumption. Patriarchy and marketing join forces, exercising a coercive power
exerting a bidirectional coercive power:
from the outside, through the mass media;
and from within, by self-regulation, constant pressure, guilt.
The Beauty List of advertising and its promises:
Younger, more beautiful.
Not a single wrinkle, tanned and luminous skin.
Firm breasts, great legs and no cellulite.
Get a wasp waist and a flat stomach.
The body you want (that they make you want) is possible.
Because there are tricks to keep the pounds off.
Because there are diets to eat without getting fat.
Because there are treatments that defy birthdays.
Gyms, cosmetics and cosmetic surgery offer the passport to perfection. The secret of eternal youth does exist and you can achieve it
through willpower and money.
Cultural and economic propaganda colonises women.
Our bodies, us, said the feminists of the seventies.Natalia Alonso Arduengo
But our bodies are still our battleground.
It is still a place of dominant desires and conflicts.
It is still a place of trivialised violence.
The unrealistic ideal of womanhood weighs like a slab
that crushes our confidence, our self-esteem.
The body is political.
Cristina Toledo’s work is political.
These words are political.
In the face of the single discourse, the non-discourse.
Self-definition is the goal.
Existing femininities are plural, multiple.
We must fight to deconstruct established values.
We have to rebel against the dominant eye.
We must reconquer the occupied territory.