- Women aren’t meant to be beautiful – Liberal Article
Gender equality in the UK has made undeniable progress over the last century. Women can now open bank accounts, file for divorce and vote. Freedoms that were unthinkable a matter of generations ago. Relatively speaking, it’s a great time to be a woman in the western world.
However there’s one area where progress remains non-existent; the pressure on women to be perfect, to look flawless.
Despite the legal freedom women gained through the feminist movement, the objectification of women continues to imprison us in our own appearance. How we look is still more important than who we are.
Take the example of Billie Ellish, the 19-year-old with five Grammy Awards and two Guinness World Records in only her first few years in the music industry. As her talent and dedication pushed her into the spotlight, she made the conscious decision to keep her body out of it by committing to baggy attire.
What’s worse is how her active rejection of the norm to commodify one’s body only attracted even more unwanted interest.
On the rare occasion where she has been spotted in a vest top, it’s gone viral. Consequently, despite still being a minor, her boobs were trending at number one on Twitter. And more recently, her body has been critiqued for being a ‘mid-30s wine mom body’. A paradoxical contradiction to the hype we’re all supposedly having over the beer bloated dad bod.
And this trend goes beyond the arts. Women in politics have repeatedly made the front page for their appearance rather than the importance of their work. The headline ‘Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it’ called attention to the knees of Sturgeon and May, rather than warn readers about the reality we were heading for.
This is not just a waste of words but a belittling form of control. When your value is dependent on the body you are born in, the body becomes a prison.
And this subjection is inescapable.
Women continue to fight for recognition of their capabilities, both outside the home and the importance of their role within it. But we continue to play an active and enforcing role in this culture of objectification.
Social media has become the dominant platform for learning. Therefore, self-comparison between the student and the photoshopped model becomes a daily ritual.
Girls are growing up thinking stretch marks, cellulite and asymmetrical boobs are flaws rather than conditions of being real. An understandable mistake considering advertisements are full of airbrushed female body parts. Moreover, a large part of what is advertised is ‘solutions’ to such ‘flaws’.
We’re not taught to realise there is nothing wrong, odd or special about any of us. That we all born within the spectrum of natural and normal. After all, these advertisements are made for profit. You can imagine how little beauty and wellness products would be purchased if girls were just taught to use their bodies, not examine them.
Even if we all had the best beauty products, and exercised, and ate the same, we would all look totally different. And even still, none of us would look like the images in the media. This false portrayal of women is perfectly summarised by Cindy Crawford who admitted she too wishes she ‘looked like Cindy Crawford’.
The truth is none of it’s real and none of it’s attainable. Even our own best selves are inconsistent. It is completely necessary for our bodies to fluctuate over time.
But knowing this doesn’t stop the creation of unconscious beautify standards. Studies have shown that in native, nutritionally vulnerable communities, where the scarcity of food means bigger women were traditionally viewed more favourably. But higher TV exposure has meant that these countries now favour the Western ideal of slimness.
Simply put, the media creates values.
Of course, this pressure to be perfect is also damaging for men. However, oddly enough, given the historic objectification faced, women are more likely to suffer from perfectionism.
For centuries the way women were presented was far more important than who they were and what capabilities they had. Traditionally, the highest goal for a woman was to be a good wife. A status defined by external eyes.
I recognise that, unfortunately, this is still the case for millions of girls around the world. Western women typically have far more freedom. But this does not mean we are free. Yes, women can make their own choices, but these choices are in the context of social norms and expectations. Choices are never independent.
Throughout history, the standardised beauty ideals for women have constantly evolved. Trends from the ‘Venus of Willendorf’, to ‘Coke Chic’, and now this ‘Slim Thic’ craze, have dominated Western ideals.
As the world continues to become more connected, information transmission becomes more intense. This means that the self-scrutiny of individuals based on their appearance will too. The pole star will always be changing and, consequently, one’s ideal body will always be their future body.
This cultural pressure breeds dissatisfied and unhappy girls. With no objective standards, the compelling need for self-improvement can become dangerous. Perfectionism is linked with anxiety, depression and eating disorders. All diseases more girls fall victim to.
Although depression in boys is often more fatal, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. 90% of people with anorexia are girls between 12 and 25.
This idolisation of perfection is not just a public health crisis, but it also robs women from their personhood. Research has found that girls who play sports and are taught to use their body have lower mental health problems and are also happier with their body. Valuing your body based on aesthetic is an emotional disassociation from yourself as the subject.
Even after nine months of pregnancy and the most traumatic birth in the animal kingdom, new mothers are rewarded more for losing the pregnancy weight than bringing a baby into the world. This is best seen in celebrity culture. Their lives are supposedly what we should all aspire to emulate. Here the arrival of a baby too often coincides with the release of a fitness programme. There is literally no break from the pressure of perfection.
Whilst the body positivity movement is great, it’s not sufficient. We are certainly seeing more diverse bodies than ever in adverts; influencers are showing the reality behind their perfectly positioned images. However, we need to reduce the importance of appearance altogether.
We learn about the world and consequently ourselves through experience. So the more women are disproportionately presented partially naked in the media, the more likely they are to be judged and judge themselves. They will naturally compare their own looks according to unrealistic standards.
It shouldn’t be about what we look like, it should be about what we do. We need to look beyond being beautiful.
Written by Senior Liberal Writer, Abby Milnes
Point of Information
The Beauty Standards for Women are a Depiction of Male-Dominant Society – A Labour Response
Beauty standards around the world vary and they are not bound to ethnicity or borders. Various ‘fairness creams’ are highly popular in South Asia. Girls in West Africa are sent to Fat camps that are specifically made to feed young girls with fatty food. Not to forget that in Arab countries, having bangles stuck in chubby wrists is the desired standard of health and wealth. Girls also fake nose jobs with cosmetics and even undergo surgeries in the Far East. And lastly, the need to be a size zero; desirable all over the world but especially in Europe.
I believe the standards created for women are the result of a patriarchal society. Men have created standards for their amusement and labelled them as beauty standards. The whole personality of ‘woman’ is created based on the idea of pleasing men. Women are objectified, from tv commercials, high budgeted films, and in politics.
And there is no end to this. A simple slim figure is also now outdated. The new standard of beauty requires an hourglass figure. And, of course, improvements in medical science and the new technology of fillers and implants have both made it possible for women to reach these new limits.
Imagine if there are no men to look at those figures and pass compliments. Would women still bother that much about their figure? I think not. How one loves to attire a lazy Sunday, is the true self of that person.
Yes, fitness and health are very important. And just like men, there are many women who are obsessed with fitness. This should be appreciated as a personal choice. There is also nothing wrong with dressing up nicely for oneself and loved ones. But this should never happen to simply impress a society that doesn’t even care for women. At least in the modern world, men’s fitness is also highly emphasised. This lightens up some burden off women.
Nevertheless, It is a bitter truth that women are under the impression that they have been liberated and are equal to men. In fact, the reality is that women are getting more and more objectified without even realizing it. A woman’s only weakness is that she likes to be praised. But to get more and more complimented, she falls into the web and strives to fit into the mould which has been set by a male-dominated society.
Written by Junior Labour Writer, Shamamah Dogar
Perfectionism Is Dangerous But Beauty Can’t Be Ignored – A Conservative Response
The pressure to look good doesn’t just affect women. Male actors often endure training regimes that only an £80 million salary could incentivise. And there are no shortages of six-packs and huge biceps on the silver screen. Seeing Captain America tearing open a log with his bare hands is enough to make any gym shy Budweiser drinker like myself feel inadequate.
Furthermore, the trope of men gathering in pubs to discuss breasts and sports cars is partly untrue. A great deal of time is dedicated to hairlines. We probably spend more time rating German caffeine-based shampoos than we do Instagram models.
The article raises interesting points regarding the fashion industry, advertising and social media in driving this pressure. But there is also the implication that misogyny is somehow part of the problem. She claims that mens’ desires are being met.
Men actually don’t like plastic surgery or the heroin chic body shapes seen on catwalks. It’s a shame we weren’t consulted before millions of women, who have nothing wrong with their appearance, embarked on this misguided quest to adjust their bodies in emulation of these dangerous depictions.
Eyebrows are a fantastic example. I have always been astounded at the self vandalism committed in relation to eyebrows. Why are they removed and then crudely painted on at great cost? Once again men are not crying out for more makeup. In fact, we would be happier with less. We never once asked for Kylie Jenner lips nor Nikki Minaj derrières. I would add that not all beauty is aesthetic. Intelligence, wit, humour and compassion can be just as attractive as chiselled jawline or an hourglass figure.
I agree issues such as anorexia are incredibly serious. I would, however, suggest that legitimate concern regarding obesity be recognised by all with the same seriousness. Both bring with them severe consequences to health. Instead, we have seen the fat pride movement emerge alongside adverts and music videos displaying incredibly unhealthy weights.
It is equally wrong to parade someone with anorexia around in this manner and the article admits that such influences from the fashion industry are harmful. This should also extend to those on the other end of the weight spectrum. If you are medically overweight or obese, the overwhelming evidence suggests one hard truth. It would be healthier to make a change.
People have certainly gone into overdrive when it comes to perfection and looks to the detriment of their mental health. But there is also a politically incorrect yet truthful statement that must be made. Evolution has led to ingrained standards of beauty just as much as the media and fashion industries have.
Childbearing hips have long been considered a key driver in attraction. As noted by Jordan Peterson in his infamous VICE interview, the use of high heels and lipstick is to accentuate sexual traits and emulate arousal. This even applies to things as simple as dental health, facial hair and weight. They can be signifiers of health. And evolution has instilled in us a desire to reproduce with healthy individuals.
In essence, finding people attractive for a broadly set list of characteristics is an inherent and inescapable fact of being a mammal. Problems arise when these primal instincts of men and women are sent into overdrive by the unnatural state of affairs caused by social media, dating app and pornography. It is these innovations and not our hardwired desires that are to blame.
It should also be noted that feminism (being a broad movement/ideology) is split on the issue of sexualised women. Some will ardently support prostitution, pride-tinged promiscuity and sexual gratuitousness. While other more traditional (and sensible) feminists will see this demeaning of women for what it truly is. But even the traditional feminists take things slightly too far.
Beauty and sexual attraction are not always linked. Nor is a link being present reflective of a sinister or unnatural state of affairs. The existence of females who voluntarily embrace beauty (whether they be models, Bond girls or Donald Trump’s next wife) are considered to be oppressed and conditioned to serve men’s desires by certain branches of the feminist movement. This simply isn’t the case across the board. Desires may be met but the process need not be demeaning or oppressive in every case.
Beauty is not unimportant as, by virtue of evolution, attraction, sexual desire and beauty standards are natural and near impossible to purge as relevant concepts. The growth of social media and the presentation of unhealthy body shapes along with vapid celebrity culture has created this problem with body image rather than the natural forces of attraction.
However, this beauty is not everything. We can’t all be a 10 so we should instead learn to be happy with what we have while making healthy choices with regards to both physical and mental health.
Written by Guest Conservative Writer, Oliver Pike