Women indulge in a pursuit of beauty all their lives, conditioned by social expectations of what is considered ‘beautiful’ in a woman.
How important is being beautiful to you? Is it directly linked to your self-esteem and self-confidence? Does it matter to you if others find you good-looking or not? Do you seek appreciation and approval from others on your physical appearance?
Well, all these questions might seem trivial to most men, but not to most women. From a girl next door to a celebrity, every woman would have experienced doubts concerning her looks at some point in her life. The perceived notion of one’s beauty (or lack of it) has tremendous impact on one’s self-image and confidence level. As per a recent research, a child as young as 3 years starts questioning if she is pretty or ugly.
This starts to show up even in children as young as 3. You go to any children’s birthday party and you would find a stark difference in how boys and girls are dressed. Girls will be party wear frocks with accessories and frills. Boys would be in simple casual clothes such as tee-shirt and jeans.
There is pressure and expectations on mothers of little girls to dress up their daughters. I agree, that mothers get to play the dressing-up-dolls game in real, and it could be fun. But the larger point is that we are setting an expectation and norm for the young minds to follow, as far as beauty is concerned.
Sometimes children don’t want to dress up and we kind of force them to wear the heavy dresses with frills, just to conform to the unofficially set dress code for girls. It should also be perfectly okay for a girl to go to a birthday party in simple casual clothes, like boys. Letting girls choose what they want to wear would not only teach them to be independent in their decision-making but also teach them to break free from gender and beauty stereotypes.
The whole cosmetic industry is thriving on creating and sustaining the need of women to look beautiful. I have always wondered why ‘being beautiful’ is thrust upon women, and not on men in the same way.
A man bathes, wears ironed clothes, combs his hair, puts on a perfume and he is ready. A woman, in addition to the above things a man does, goes on painting her face with all sort of chemicals and then she is ready.
Women are bombarded with advertisements of beauty enhancing products such as pimple removing creams, whitening creams, weight loss pills, anti ageing creams and so on. One constant running theme of such ads is that by using such products, for example a pimple removing cream or skin whitening cream, a girl is shown achieving her goals, which stereo-typically are, getting the attention of boys and winning beauty pageants.
What about the other goals girls may have, such as topping an exam, getting a job, winning a game, excelling in her career? Can these ads show that through use of cosmetic products one can achieve such goals? No, they can’t because success is not skin deep, it takes consistent hard work over the years, grit and strength of character to achieve long-term success, and definitely you can’t show these virtues being built with a skin whitening cream. The whole industry is misleading the young minds and messing up their value system.
I have always felt parents have such significant influence on holistic development of children as it is the parents who can guard the young impressionable minds from getting misguided. Parents should focus not only on ensuring measurable performance in studies or sports, but also in ensuring that children develop right attitude, values and perspectives.
My point is the difference of expectations and set standards for women and men, when it comes to grooming and looking good. The attention to dress and make up can serve as a distraction from a focus on studies or, job at hand due to the absurd beauty standards, to which women are disproportionately subjected.
Society tends to objectify women, with beauty classified as the greatest asset for a woman. Sometimes having physical beauty can be a hindrance in letting people see your talent beyond the appearance. You come across articles such as 10 most beautiful female IPS/IAS officers. Even cracking one of the most prestigious and toughest exam does not let women to break free from age-old shackles, of beauty defining a woman.
Women can follow their pursuit of flawless beauty and glamour, but one must understand that flawless beauty itself is a myth.
When we think of beauty, we think of the celebrities donning the fashion and beauty magazines, looking beautiful and groomed all the time. What we might not realize is that flawless looks on magazines cover is a result of a rigorous schedule of diet and exercise, hours of make-up, teams of fashion stylists and make-up experts and, on top of everything the use of technology such as Photoshop.
Actress Sonam Kapoor busted the myth of flawless beauty in a recent article. I suggest every girl must read it. As per the article, flawlessness is a dangerous and high budget myth and it’s time we shattered it. Any expectations of flawless beauty from oneself and others is unsustainable and damaging in the long run.
Why is it the responsibility and duty of every woman to look beautiful all the time? Why is being beautiful so important for being a woman? Why can’t we ourselves, and others around us accept us as we are, without any makeup and beauty procedures done, the way we accept men? Why has looking good become a part of feeling good and confident? What changes before makeup and after make-up? You are the same person with same skill-sets.
Through thousands of years, this enormous responsibility of being beautiful has forced women to voluntarily do it on their own. Women’s self-confidence is dependent on being beautiful, which is dependent on the use of cosmetic products and all the artificial procedures done to their body. Why does nobody tell them that you don’t need to do anything to look beautiful, that you are beautiful as you are? Having a kind and gentle heart is what makes you beautiful.
A radiant and genuine smile is the makeup which would make one look beautiful always. When I see a woman without makeup and with a confident smile, I respect her, for I know she has freed herself from this responsibility of being beautiful all the time. She knows who she is and doesn’t need chemicals applied on her face and procedures done on her body to feel good about herself. We need more of such women!
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Published here earlier.
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