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“Natural” Beauty?

2009 February 8
by Ruth Goodlaxson

Instead of writing about this week’s readings, I found I still had a lot of unresolved questions about our discussion of cosmetic surgery and using technology to alter your appearance. Before this class, I held some unexamined belief that it was better to accept yourself for your “natural” beauty than to alter it to fit a different standard. I had a vague notion that whatever was natural was automatically prefereable to artifice.

Last week’s reading made me reconsider a lot of my life experiences. My braces are an obvious example; I’m so glad I could have them, since I actually had two rows of canine teeth for a while (ew), but they definitely weren’t “natural.” Also, my brother, who is now around 5′ 8″, received growth hormone for several years because his pituitary gland shut down after receiving radiation treatment. He didn’t grow for four years before going on growth hormone- in this case, it took something artificial to get him to where he would have been “naturally” without cancer treatment.

Definitely, some aspects of technology are damagining to the body, like tanning booths. But I think I need to question what I mean when I think of “natural.” It seems to come from an idea of how we lived in a state of nature. Central heating, vitamins and exercize machines definitely aren’t natural in that sense, but they are still beneficial. Also, the fact remains that we have a longer life expectancy now than before. I’m curious: what do you all think of when you think of “natural?” How do you designate something as natural or not?

One Response
  1. Ruth Goodlaxson permalink
    February 8, 2009

    I like your idea that we have to expand the definition of natural. That’s such a hard thing to do, though! It seems like products and people throw the word around a lot and use a lot of different definitions. As to the value judgment, that seems difficult without a good definition to work with. Before class this week, I definitely would have said yes, and that natural is good. But now I’m not sure!

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