No. That was not a typo. That was completely intentional.
Ladies, what do advertisements tell you? That you have to be slim, resemble a lithe, swan-like creature, have a nice bronze tan, have endlessly long legs with, an extremely tiny waist, perfectly double curved lips… Phew. Even typing this out is exhausting.
Yep. I’m talking about the ridiculous beauty standards that we are expected to follow. The pressure for perfection is too real, people.
A few days back, a friend of mine texted me saying that she felt as though she looked ‘ugly’ in a photo of hers that was taken a few years back. she also said that it’s not that she was uglier back then, it’s just how the society had conditioned us to think that we looked ugly without doing a bunch of things to our bodies.
The thing that we don’t seem to realize is that those photos in which we think we look ugly, are photos of us going through something perfectly normal as puberty— a time in our lives when we’re still growing, a time in our lives that we are made to believe looks glamorous because of all the 20-somethings, fully developed adults playing high-school teenagers in those TV series and movies that we watch, apparently while also forgetting that they do not always reflect reality.
And I cannot stress how much I relate to this, you guys! I came across a photo of myself from tenth grade and I didn’t like how skinny I used to be. Reason? I was literally bullied by my classmates into losing weight. Of course, people started commenting on how ‘amazing’ I looked, and I won’t lie— I did feel good about it. But tell me something, is losing weight to bullying, or changing yourself out of societal pressure healthy in any manner at all?
And let me make something very clear, here. Losing weight to stay healthy and losing weight to look good because “the society told you so” are two very different things for so many different reasons.
We all like a good case study, don’t we?
I consulted a few amazing women, all of different shapes and sizes, all EQUALLY beautiful. Each and every single one of them had something drastically different to say, which only proves one thing— we have been brought up with the constant reminder that we will never be pretty enough, and that so much can be wrong with a woman’s looks.
Case #1: “Not only do men keep telling women what to look like, but women also tell other women that they should do certain things to look pretty, and I think that the latter is what affects us more. Indians are obsessed with this idea of a fair complexion, even though their golden-bronze colour is absolutely gorgeous. Fair skin is considered to be ‘healthy’ and most beauty brands thrive on this crazy concept. The worst part is that our success is often equated to the idea of ‘conventional beauty’ and you’re a failure if you don’t really live up to that.
So, we can’t be just successful. We have to be successful AND beautiful to make something of ourselves. Hate it as you may, this is the sad, ugly reality we live in. Because have you EVER seen a person on media without makeup? They’re all wearing layers of it. It’s not the society who is holding us back. It’s the ridiculous standards of beauty that a majority of us cannot keep up with.”
Case #2: “From as early as our childhoods, we were told by our parents and relatives to avoid any incidents that could potentially ruin our looks or figures, which would ruin marriage prospects because “Who will marry you if you look disfigured? It’s like they did not care too much about our education, passion or occupation. Too much importance was given to our looks.
Girls have always been discouraged from taking part in sports. Girl-friends would comment about other girls having facial or body hair, and bully the girls who did not wax or shave them off. Petite girls would bully the ones who were a little healthier than they were. Besides patriarchy, I think it’s the women themselves who have become the root cause for insecurity among other women.
I also came across this tweet by Walela Nehanda that said, “When my cancer went undiagnosed for 2 years, I was losing weight RAPIDLY and people, friends, and family included, would say shit constantly like ‘Wow, you look so good.’ Because too many of us equate healthiness to being thin and that’s the biggest lie we have ever been told.”
True, isn’t it?
Like, have you all seen the living Queen, Serena Williams? Does she look stick thin to you? NO. But is she fit? HELL YES. Have you ever heard of Marilyn Monroe? She said “Screw You!” to the conventional standards of beauty and totally ROCKED those curves and did not have a thigh gap. Wasn’t she successful enough?
YES. SHE CONTINUES TO BE A FREAKING ICON!
Dear world, we’re a part of you. Please stop telling women what to look like. As if we don’t have enough to worry about already. Please also stop telling men what to look like. JUST STOP JUDGING PEOPLE BASED ON THEIR LOOKS. It’s such a toxic thing to do, guys. You won’t understand the damage it does until you’re at the receiving end of it.
Looks will fade away, personality won’t. This isn’t something I should be writing about at all. It’s something everyone should understand because it is the decent thing to do. So just respect people and be a nice person.
Hey guys! If you liked this post, leave me a comment and let me know what you think. I am very thankful for my wonderful friends who agreed to collaborate on this important topic with me. If you think more people should read this, spread the love far and wide. You can also reach me on my socials, links to which are given on my Homepage and also below. I look forward to hearing from all of you.