Two Or Three Things I Know For Sure

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Two or Three Things I Know For Sure

     Allison illuminates the fact that we as women must appreciate each other and our
beauty before we can truly cherish other forms of beauty around us. “Two or three things
I know for sure, and one of them is that of we are not beautiful to each other, we cannot
know beauty in any form”(86). We are so conditioned to see female beauty as what men
see as beautiful, that we don’t even know what it means to us. If we can get to the point
where women feel beautiful even if they don’t fit the societal ideal, it will allow us to open
our minds to all other forms of beauty.
     Morgan asserts in her article, “Women and the Knife”, “Rather than aspiring to
self-determined and women-centered ideals of health or integrity, women’s’ attractiveness
is defined as attractive-to-men...”(119). This ties in to a story that Allison tells in her
book about a conversation with her sister. She had always thought her sister was beautiful
and was jealous at the attention and admiration it entailed. Many women are envious of
women that men view as beautiful...even lesbian women who possibly would have a
different view of female beauty. Society ingrains in everyone what the standard of beauty
is so much that we don’t even know why we believe it. As Allison talks with her sister,
she discovers what it meant for her to be attractive growing up. She was constantly
harassed by boys and goaded by mothers and sister who didn’t want her near their sons
and brothers. People assumed that she thought she was better than them, without her
having to say a word. So while Allison wanted to be just like her, she dealt with “...the
hatred that trailed over her skin like honey melting on warm bread”(78). Though this
story points out that beauty has its cost as well, the power of being beautiful holds a great
deal of weight in our society as individuals and social beings.
     “...a woman’s pursuit of beauty through transformation is often associated with
lived experiences of self-creation, self-fulfillment, self-transcendence, and being cared for.
The power of these experiences must not be underestimated”(Morgan, 120). This is a
major reason so many women are now choosing to have cosmetic surgery. But, as
Morgan also points out, “elective” surgery is now becoming less of a choice for women.
As more and more women transform their bodies into society’s ideal figure of femininity,
the higher the standards become. If women begin seeing many other women having

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surgery and becoming more attractive to men, then they too will have to go under the
knife to keep up with the rising standard of beauty. Morgan asserts that we must not
conform to this standard and refuse to surgically change our bodies. At an individual
level, we must retain our health and integrity. At the collective level, refusal may cause
plastic surgeons to “(re)turn their expertise to the victims in the intensive burn unit and to
the crippled limbs and joints of arthritic women”(123). Just as Allison asks us to
understand and care about her sister growing up as beautiful but burdened, Morgan
reminds us to do the same for the women that do subject themselves to elective surgery.
Again, beauty allows women...”access to...power and empowerment or...experience some
semblance of self-determination...” and also is “...necessary to an individual woman’s
material, economic, and social survival”(123).
     I looked at a website for a company called “A Perfect Image”, to further explore
the idea of the “ultimate woman” . Although cosmetic surgery is a major form of
appearance altering, there are other options that women have. The market for artificial
beauty has become so large that I even found this website that advertises permanent
cosmetic makeup. They advertise to women by asking them to, “Imagine how nice it
would be to wake up in the morning with your makeup on and in place. No straining to
see how to apply your makeup without glasses, or hassling with constantly trying to
maintain the perfect look”. The idea of having to be perfect has become part of our
normal speech. Society now believes it is perfectly acceptable to tell women they must
look flawless, and even to advertise how to achieve this. The website also examines the
different kinds of makeup they offer, and each one supposedly offers not only to enhance
your natural features, but more so to change or hide them. For example, the lip liner can
“...change the size and shape of the lips...and also camouflage facial lines surrounding the
lip as a result of aging”. Aging in women has never been seen as a beautiful process.
Allison says of her aging sister, “I thought she was beautiful. I think she still is” (79).
     While Allison is at her sister’s home, she also speaks with her niece. She tells her
that, “...she was so beautiful people said the sun shone brighter when she walked out in
the day. They said the moon took on glitter when she went out in the night”(85). She
then runs her hand along both her sister’s and her nieces face and jaw line, and tells her
“That’s the mark of the beautiful Gibson women, you both have it”(86). We must be able
to be beautiful to each other. She doesn’t tell her how the boys will love her, or how
lucky her husband will be, rather what she sees as her beauty. This is what we as women
all need to take as our responsibility to do. Only then can we see each others beauty for
what it is, not what it could be or what society deems is should be. Only then can we
imagine a world where cosmetic surgery is available, but unused. Beauty lies not in
transforming what we are, but seeing what splendor lies within us, from our birth to our
full maturity.Works Cited

Allison, Dorothy. Two or Three Things I Know For Sure. First Plume Printing: New
          York, New York. 1996.

Richardson, L. & Taylor, V. Whittier, N. Feminist Frontiers. Boston: McGraw Hill.

     Morgan, Kathryn P. “Women and the Knife: Cosmetic Surgery and the
     Colonization of Women’s Bodies”. 1991

“A Perfect Image” website at www.aperfectimage.net/permanentmakeup.htm


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