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Women are exposed to rigid and narrow standards of beauty early on. It’s high time we take a stand against these unrealistic notions of body image and break free.
32 26 32…. That’s the magic number right?
Who made this the magic number?
Who made fair, tall, thin, doe-like eyes, rosy lips is the ideal beauty, right?
Who set this standard?
I bet you desperately want to know the answers to these questions. I do too.
I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I do know that you have a greater problem with people around you who believe in these standards of beauty more than the people who made the norm. You probably have a problem with yourself too for believing these unrealistic standards of beauty and failing at achieving them.
Almost every girl is subject to constant criticism about the way she looks right from a very young age. Due to this continuous exposure to relentless nagging, these notions of body image are internalized, and become an integral part of people’s self-definition.
For example, I realized I was thin only when people started pointing it out to me, and they’ve said this for almost 16 to 17 years of 20 years of my existence on this planet (They think I’m the malnourished kind of thin, little do they know about how much I eat). Because of which, I’ve started to think about gaining weight even though I’m healthy. I bet, the ones on the heavier side have a much tougher time!
Every new person you meet and of course the old acquaintances have an opinion about how you look, about the colour of your skin, your eyes, your nose, your lips, your pimples, your eyebrows, body hair, weight, height and what not. Strangely enough, these opinions are almost similar. We have all been culturally conditioned into believing these standards of beauty.
The problem is that we believe these stereotypical notions and examine ourselves on the basis of the set standards. We then tirelessly try to achieve these standards, go on diets, beauty treatments, ridiculous fitness regimes, sometimes even surgery. But then we end up feeling bad irrespective of whether we’ve achieved these goals or not, because this internal negative critique has transformed into a habit. Even when one fit into the perfect size, the happiness does not last, as the body image issues have become an integral part of people’s self-definition and anything else seems unfamiliar. This causes eating disorders and other diseases.
Anushka Kelkar, a 21-year-old student of journalism and literature at Ashoka University has taken up an innovative initiative to change the discourse on beauty and body image. She launched browngirlgazin, a project where she pairs photographs of Indian women with quotes describing their perceptions of their bodies.
She has received a lot of acclaim for this initiative as many women opened up and spoke about all the problems they face and how they’ve battled these problems. This invites more women to come up, talk, and change the way we think about beauty.
It’s about time we too stop torturing ourselves and others with these unrealistic standards of the ideal beauty. Because hey, there is no ideal! So let’s start by accepting and loving ourselves. Let’s change the definitions of beauty; beauty is something very abstract anyway. Make a conscious effort not to judge people by their appearance and judge all ads that reinforce the irrational standards of beauty.
And always remember that the character of your mind and internal being (soul, if you will) can never match the outward appearance, so turn a deaf ear to those voices that tell you about your bodily imperfections. So let’s flaunt the hairy and waxed limbs, flabby curves and bony edges, fair and dark skin, scars and dimples alike devoid of all filters.
Header Image is from the movie Tumahari Sulu
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