Whoever has told you “It’s what’s on the inside that counts” (and I guarantee SOMEONE has told you), well that person is a liar. Before you get all aggressive and offended and angry, please please pretty please hear me out. I’m not calling out your Mom (or Dad, or Grandma or Teacher) because I’m some sort of shallow neurotic sociopath, I want more than anything for your sweet angelic Mother to be right, but it’s simply (and sadly) not the truth. And for whatever reason I’m a huge advocate for learning/knowing/accepting the truth, even when it makes you mad or uncomfortable, especially, when it makes you mad or uncomfortable.
Let’s look at a few depressing figures shall we?
(This is where you agree, even though the previous statement is less than compelling):
1. “In Brazil there are more Avon ladies than members of the Army. In the United States more money is spent on beauty than education or social services. During famines Kalahari business men still use animal fats to moisturize their skin, and in 1715 riots broke out in France when the use of flour on hair of the aristocrats led to food shortages”-Survival of the Prettiest (Great read!)
2. Ukrainian model, Valeria Lukynova, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures to perfect her look as a “real life Barbie” as an attempt to “perfect her self” as well as promote her spiritual beliefs.-Huffington Post1/Huffington Post 2
3. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 80% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance and at any given point 50% of women are dieting.-The Beauty Ideal: University of Maine
5. When women listed the top 10 things that make other women “threatening” the number 1 response was “Beauty”. Consequently women who are perceived as “beautiful” by other women, often face social rejection. Furthermore, it isn’t cheap to be a “good looking woman” and it is estimated that attractive women spend roughly 1/3 of their income maintaing their looks.-Psychology Today
If you’re bitter about these fun facts, trust me, I’m just as bitter (if not more). They’re nothing new though right? I know I’ve certainly flipped through a Victoria’s Secret catalogue and walked away thinking “Today is the day I lay off of the ice cream and hit the gym” only to quickly realize that I’m going to have to lay off a lot more than the ice cream if I hope to look like Miranda Kerr. I’ve taken an entire college course on the biological and cultural beauty implications (It was called “Appearance&Culture” and if you get the chance to take a similar class I highly suggest you go for it), yet, these statistics still “shock” me, they still “irritate” me, and they still make my heart race and fill me with angry rage.
I’m not a guiltless victim in this whole scenario. I bleach and highlight my hair. I’ve whitened my teeth (although with all the coffee I consume I’ve negated that whole procedure) and I’ve longed for eyelash extensions ever since I realized they were even a thing. I’m far from the poster child for “Beauty Au Natural”. I mean, If prancing around in a skimpy body-con dress and heels doesn’t make me feel sexy, I don’t know what does. Yet here I am all worked up.
I’m upset because historically women have been given value by two means; first as child bearers and second as beautiful sex objects. Whether you believe the word of the Bible or the Quran (scripture representing the two most widely practiced religions in the world) I think it can be assumed that these books are at the very least representations of historical norms, and it’s no surprise women are perceived as inferior to men. When a woman is described textually it isn’t considered important if she is intelligent, or cunning, if she is funny or strong, she is described as beautiful or homely. If any of her other characteristics are described (rare) it is only to accompany the fact that she is beautiful (or not beautiful).
So what are we to do? On one hand, I feel compelled to attempt to defy the statistics by abandoning the vain&narcissistic ways that have come to define me, yet, on the same note, I wonder “What good would that do?”. Will I get farther in life by letting my roots grow out? Will I make more female friends if I wear less mascara? If I throw out my push up bras will I guarantee people see me for “me” and not for my appearance? The answer is obviously a big fat screaming “NO”!
It’s tough being beautiful, it’s tough being ugly. So what have we learned ladies (since I know my Uncle and boyfriend are the only guys who read my blog…Thanks!)??? It is tough to be a woman in a sexist world (and YES we live in a sexist world). The moral of this story (whether it has become a little muddled or not) is that we need to stick together. Don’t hate another woman because she’s beautiful, don’t hate another woman because she’s a “sex symbol”, don’t hate another woman because she’s overweight and her face doesn’t fit the “golden ratio”. Take a step back and try (even if it takes all your will and all your might) to see other women for the other characteristics they bring to the table…you know, besides the way they look. It’s a brutal, sexist, unfair world out there but we can’t beat biology and we can’t beat the media so we might as well do what we can right?!