Women’s bodies and sexuality have historically been used as a commodity to sell everything on earth, from car tires to household appliances! Women are often depicted as objects of visual and sexual pleasure across television, magazines, media, and entertainment industries. If we look around ourselves, we’ll find hypersexualized and unrealistically perfect female forms almost everywhere. Let’s talk about what can we do to dismantle the social construct of unrealistically perfect female beauty.
Over the last couple of decades, there have been growing concerns over the negative impacts of the objectification of women and girls. Studies have shown that young girls around the globe are facing serious mental health issues because of the thin ideal and fat phobia imposed on them by brands, media, and social media. Women and girls are at huge risks of suffering from negative body image, low- self-esteem, eating disorders, and body dysmorphia. According to Jess Wiener, the cultural expert for the Dove Self-Esteem Project-
Viewing unrealistic and unachievable beauty images creates an unattainable goal which leads to feelings of failure.
We measure our self-worth based on what others might think of us!
Fortunately, in the recent past, we have seen a growing number of celebrity actresses, models, and activists have started speaking up against brands and media’s objectification of women and advocating in favour of embracing body imperfections, and body positivity.
Body positivity is a movement that in its simplest form challenges the unrealistic standards of feminine beauty like flawless, wrinkle-free, blemish-free skin, perfect body size and shapes, and avoidance of any imperfections. The body positivity movement encourages young people to love and accept their bodies irrespective of how they look and reject social constructs on how a perfect body should look like.
How Can We Dismantle the Concept of Perfect Female Beauty?
We can play an important role in dismantling the social construct of beauty and deconstructing the social norms of associating physical appearance with self-worth and success. I would recommend a few basic tips that we all can follow –
- Let’s love ourselves and our bodies first! Self-love and self-acceptance are the basis of all forms of body activism and body positive movements. Once we start loving and accepting our bodies, we would stop judging others and start supporting one another.
- Avoid Mentioning body shapes, size, height, skin tone, skin colour while complimenting someone. It might sound surprising to some of you as the common perception is we hurt someone’s self-esteem ONLY when we criticize them. But that’s not quite true. For instance, If you tell someone ‘you look absolutely gorgeous and so thin in this dress’. Aren’t you endorsing the fact that she has to be thin to be beautiful? We all do it sometimes or other, but it’s time for us to remind ourselves and everybody around us that we are here to change what’s normal and embrace what is good for our well being.
- While talking to children, don’t refer to their body types, weight, or skin colour in any context. We often tend to get obsessed with our children and their well beings. But even very caring parents or relatives can potentially damage a kid’s sense of self-worth to the extent they can’t even imagine. For instance, when you scold your overweight kid for taking an extra serving of dinner or ask your dark-skinned child not to wear a specific dress because it doesn’t suit her complexion, they associate those comments with a lot of pain and stigma, internalize their emotions, and start disliking their bodies, which manifest in different forms as they grow older.
- We all have our unconscious biases and blind spots about physical appearances. It’s very easy to slip back to our old thoughts and patterns. However, we should constantly remind ourselves and bring awareness within us and around us about the fact we all are here to lift each other up, not to tear each other apart.
Let’s not forget the fact that we all are struggling to find our place in the world – a place where we feel supported, heard, understood, accepted, empowered, and loved without being judged. Let’s create that space for one another! Let’s stop judging, shaming, and blaming. Let’s walk each other home.