Recently when I’d put on some weight, people started greeting me with “Oh my you’ve put on so much weight!” instead of “Hi, how are you?”
Not that I don’t enjoy unconventional greetings because well, I’m not particularly focused on following convention, but this particular thing, isn’t pleasant, it’s actually far from pleasant. OK, It’s pretty annoying. I’m not just talking for myself when I say that the amazingly high standards of appearance that every girl is put through right from the time she’s a child who’s obsessing over her beautiful Barbie to the time when opening a magazine with a gorgeous model on its cover is downright depressing.
Now I don’t blame the society aunties and uncles who are allegedly worried about “my future” or “what kind of man will I get”, because everyone wants a trophy, a girl they can show off. This particular ideology is what puts me off and I am running in the opposite direction when someone I know is about to start rambling on either about my body or criticize someone else’. You see what’s happening here? Women are pitted against women every day in our homes and society, consciously or unconsciously on the basis of appearances. We are conditioned to crave perfection, hate those who have it and criticize those who don’t. Either way, we lose.
And while we are still getting over that innocent dinner table remark on how much we eat and we need to watch our weight early on, the media floods our television, newspapers and internet with images of ultra thin women, adverts on a miracle weight reduction diet pill and an assorted range of products to help us hide those pimples, dark circles, cellulite, blemishes and every other imperfection with a woman’s body you can think of. The latest most ridiculous offering is a vaginal skin lightening products (mentally strangles the manufacturers) because who wants to have sex with a woman with dark skin “down there”?
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the media and cosmetic industry thrives on women’s insecurities. And they have succeeded in implanting their perception into our minds. A recent study has revealed that 82% of women believe that social media influences how they define beauty.
The recent take down of the unrealistic standards of beauty the media propagates through airbrushed models and photoshopped waists and thighs has been a revelation of how we are being manipulated by the media and subjugated by society for our flaws. How long till we realize that the standards of female beauty the media is seeking to underline is a sham? Here is an invigorating video called 5 minutes of what the media does to women featuring Jean Kilbourne.
So now that the media and our society has effectively indoctrinated us with the thought that we have far from perfect bodies, the next stop on the road to self destruction is the shopping mall. All women I know will agree that we have spent countless hours in the trial room moping over that dress which didn’t fit or the “Oh my god!” moment where you find out that the perfect denims which fit you is an L or XL! Shopping can make a woman bipolar. It’s a fact. It’ll either make you really happy when you fit into a size S or make you feel like a pig when you need to reach out for that XL top.
The newest problem I’ve been pondering over is the term “plus size clothing.” Simply put, this range is for women who don’t fall in the socially constructed range of normal sizes (read: tiny sizes) and are outcast as fat or bulky or curvy. It’s not enough that we are imposed with impossible standards of beauty, now we’re forced to achieve another target: How NOT to land up in the plus size category. It seems as though the media expects us not to have an opinion on this categorization of women. Well, sadly for them, we do. And if Her Awesomeness Queen Latifah says it’s wrong, it’s wrong. And more and more women are joining hands to stop this madness that is causing all sorts of health problems in women who resort to crazy crash diets and working out for 5 hours a day to “get in shape”.
The insecurity that is built into a woman’s mind is fuelled by these layers of beauty constructs that the media, society, toys and clothing stores have fabricated. What they show or say is not who we are in reality. While we sit here and debate on speaking responsibly about weight and size, young girls and women are stressing out and developing eating disorders because of these body image constructs. We are all built differently, have different body types and flaws that we cannot wish away or conceal every single day of our lives. It’s a gigantic waste of time and energy to think we can achieve someone else’s version of perfect. And a wonderfully liberating part of this is that people from that very media that wants us to hate ourselves are speaking for all the real, imperfect and beautiful women who are starving themselves to look perfect.
This TED Talk by Cameron Russell, a model is refreshing because it tells us that what the media shows isn’t real, because what it does is removes the mind from the woman and judges her only by her appearance. And this beautifully put together project by Marie Claire that challenge the powerful notions of perfection and beauty our minds are programmed with ask a powerful question: What is it going to take for you to love your body?
Because in the real world, one size doesn’t fit all, but all sizes are unique and beautiful in their own right. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
About the Author
A patriot and hopeful change maker, Riddhima is a believer in the power of women to change the world. She has studied Political Science with special reference to the feminist movement, feminist theory and the position of women in Indian politics. She is currently pursuing Law and hopes to specialize in women related laws and work with an organization in a related field. She enjoys public speaking and is not afraid to speak her mind. Sharma is a quick learner and is keen to gain new experiences especially in the areas of public policy, politics and strategy