The Politicization of Beauty and Fashion Across the Political Spectrum

Recently, Conservative Dads released a calendar featuring scantily dressed women, which sparked outrage on Twitter. Critics highlighted the hypocrisy of a conservative brand selling a calendar that, in some cases, features scantily dressed women. In a similar controversy, Kanye West recently posted slightly explicit photos on Instagram to celebrate his new wife’s birthday. This incident underscores the division within the conservative right about which cultural era they wish to revert to. Do they yearn for a time when traditional femininity was celebrated and obesity wasn’t glorified, and when trans women weren’t considered equal to biological women? Or do they seek a return to an era when modesty was more prevalent in American culture?

There are three distinct views on what beauty is or ought to be. On the far left, the perspective is that beauty is subjective; therefore, women can be fat and beautiful, or not biologically female and beautiful, or have armpit hair or dyed pink hair. The second view equates beauty with sex appeal, as epitomized by the adage “sex sells.” This perspective emphasizes objectification and nudity, with physical attributes enhanced through plastic surgery, breast and butt enhancements, lip fillers, heavy makeup, and the Playboy magazine model aesthetic. This ideology manifests differently across ideologies but ultimately revolves around nudity. For the right, it’s nostalgia for Baywatch, hot women in bike ads, and Dukes of Hazzard. For the left, it’s drag queens, nude Twitch streamers, or Kim Kardashian lookalikes. Their concept of femininity is tied to raw sexual expression or nudity in the name of freedom. The third view holds that beauty lies in modesty. Examples include Muslim women and traditional Christian women who wear headscarves, long skirts, and little to no cleavage, embodying the “trad waifu” ideal. Due to ideological differences, these perspectives often clash.

The most prominent view of beauty propagated by the left is fat positivity, moving away from traditional femininity. This belief argues that conventional beauty standards are discriminatory, excluding fat women, disabled women, or women who refuse to shave. Critics of these standards cite mental health issues caused by unrealistic beauty ideals, like the promotion of extreme thinness in the ‘90s and early 2000s fashion industry, which led to widespread eating disorders. Body positive activists argue that conventional beauty harms young girls’ self-esteem, pushing them towards drastic surgeries and excessive makeup use.

Slate published an article titled “I’m a Little Bummed That Adele Lost Weight,” lamenting that Adele represented a body type often criticized. Despite fat positivity activism, obesity has been normalized in American culture. According to, 70% of Americans are now overweight or obese, up from 13% in 1962. Despite obesity’s known health risks, including heart disease, diabetes, and various cancers, body positivity activists often claim to be healthy exceptions. Yet, they differ from sumo wrestlers, who must change their diet upon retirement and lead a lifestyle unlike the average American.

The second type of beauty emphasizes raw sexual expression or nudity in a more traditional sense, focusing on sexual poses, makeup, and revealing clothing. This perspective can be conservative, highlighting femininity through women’s exclusive attire, or liberal, embracing women’s sexuality as self-expression and empowerment. However, it often leads to objectification, desensitization to sexual imagery, and unhealthy body trends. A Wall Street Journal report from the Facebook Files indicated that 32% of teen girls felt worse about their bodies after using Instagram. The early 2000s trend towards extreme thinness also pushed many young women towards anorexia. This beauty ideal is not universally accepted, with some conservative Americans deeming risqué attire socially inappropriate.

The third category, often promoted by conservatives, defines beauty as modesty, linked to a motherly and traditionally religious figure. The “trad wife” trend emphasizes modesty and traditional gender roles, advocating against excessive makeup. Influencers like Trio Mandili, Ms. Pakistan, and Abby Shapiro exemplify this trend. However, this perspective is not without its critics, who argue that it can lead to judgmental and hypocritical attitudes, particularly within the Red Pill community.

In conclusion, beauty and fashion have become politicized, often serving as a barometer for values. However, judging someone solely on their appearance is unfair, as cultural norms pressure many women into adopting certain styles. People can change, and what matters most is their internal character, not their past behavior or current fashion choices.

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