Anupama writes a letter to her 18-year old daughter. Read what she has to say.
What is beauty to you? It is most often the sketch that media creates for us. We need to break away from this to be able to accept and love ourselves.
What comes to your mind when I say ‘beautiful woman’ or ‘handsome man?’
A woman with flowing hair and skin so fair and smooth on a figure so perfect, like the ones you can only find on the ramps of the best fashions shows. For the males, it isn’t tall, dark and handsome anymore. It’s more like tall, fair, muscular and handsome. Anything apart from the above description is not even considered in the league.
Not many realize this, but there is a definition that has been created, not by us though; however, it it still exists.
Earlier, noted women like Asha Parekh, Zeenat Aman, Bindu or Helen, used to be much more voluptuous and happy about it. But as the years passed by, the ideal figure size started diminishing and the size zero concept stepped in. And of course, the advertising industry evolved too and they started using images in advertisements instead of plain text. They understood that images are much more powerful to sell their products.
The beauty industry started gaining pace in the 90’s. They knew they had to target the two most important factors of our lives – beauty and aging. They play with the desires of all to look attractive and youthful. They are well aware, through researches, that the demand for products that enhance appearance and make people more youthful will never go down and so will their businesses.
They play with the desires of all to look attractive and youthful.
Initially, advertisements for fairness creams, weight loss programs and younger skin were targeted at women. Like, if a girl is not fair, she may not get a job or a man to marry. If she has pimples, she may not have friends because people will not talk to her. Then the media came up with a grooming line of products for men like fairness creams, face washes and facial kits. Hence, even men are now conscious about the way they look, their skin and body. Just to share a little secret, I have my own brother who spends almost 20 minutes in front of the mirror just setting his hair.
Everything around us like the television ads, online shopping sites, digital advertisements, hoardings, magazines, newspapers and beauty pageants, are continuously bombarding us with images that have men and women looking absolutely flawless and fabulous. We all know they wear heaps of make-up and most of these images are photoshopped, but, what can we do about it? We, humans, are visual beings and these people play with our psychology to sell their product. They create such lasting impressions on our minds that it even influence our thoughts and choices.
Hence we can say that all the definitions are created by the media, advertising and celebrities, but do we really need to fall prey to it?
We, humans, are visual people and these people play with our psychology to sell their product.
So, coming to the primary reason of writing this article, we all form images about our physical selves and about our bodies. This is called body-image. I am so huge. I have fat arms. I have huge shoulders. I have narrow legs. I have horrible acne. I am short. I have huge thighs. I am dark. I have a bulging belly. Have you ever thought how you decide that you are xyz? On what basis do you decide so?
A voluptuous girl is made to think she is fat and being fat is stigmatised to an extent with thoughts like ‘you will not get a good job or husband and people will ignore you’, because that’s what they show in advertisements. So, obviously her image about her body will be poor. She tends to think, ‘why is my body like this? Why can’t my body support me? I dislike myself because I am not one of those.’
Something similar happens with men who are too thin or obese. This is called a negative body image and it is directly related to the person’s self-esteem that is proportional to one’s self-confidence. If people are not happy with their own bodies, they can never be happy with themselves. Anywhere they go, what-so-ever they do, they are always conscious about how their body looks and if it’s performing well.
There is nothing wrong about grooming, weight loss or any other products and services. Rather, with globalization, the world has become smaller. Indians are doing business with different countries and coming in contact with people all over the world. It is important to be groomed and well-dressed because it’s a proven fact that people make first impressions in the first 3-5 seconds of meeting a person, especially strangers. But why portray only skinny women and muscular men? Why create stereotypes or rather insert fear in people through advertisements?
If an individual isn’t happy with their own body, they can never be happy with themselves.
Some companies like Dove have understood the effect of advertising on individuals and hence they have begun with campaigns like ‘Dove Real Beauty’, which have been well-appreciated. They use models irrespective of their skin color and body type. This promotes the idea that humans are of different shape, size and colour, and that we are all different and unique in our own ways. We don’t need to work on changing what we are or how we look and appear to others – rather we should care and strengthen our assets. Let’s take the example of Lata Mangeshkar or Sachin Tendulkar; they aren’t really physically attractive (as per the standards created), but they are well-known and respected for their creativity and competence. At the same time, they take the required measures to be presentable with whatever height, body and weight that they have.
In cases where one feels the need to seek help, there are now image consultants. They work towards uplifting people’s self-esteem and self-confidence and take their own body image from a low/negative outlook to a fresh and positive one. It is also important that people understand their lifestyle, personal style, body type and personal colour to make the best use of all available resources and project themselves as whole new beings.
I believe beauty is inside out. When a person feels well from inside, he or she will be much more confident and radiant. This will also lead to an enhanced, empowered and evolved self.
This post was first published at this blog.
Conceptual image via Shutterstock
Hello! I am a Certified Image Consultant & Founder of Bespoke Image Solutions. Specializing in Image
‘Beauty’. The Bane Of Every Woman’s Life!
The Beauty Illusion: Of Plastic Surgery And Beauty Products
A Recent Survey Takes An Essential Look Into The Body Shaming Of Real Women
32-26-32? Let’s Flaunt Our ‘Imperfect’ Selves Instead!
Get our weekly mailer and never miss out on the best reads by and about women!