Beauty: an illusion
Jul 19, 2015-
She yelled, yelled as loud as she could, but her voice only echoed inside her head. Unable to express her inaudible chunter, she survived with the smoke that blinded her every minute.
From a well-educated background to a well-paid job, she had everything she wanted. A woman of the twenty first century, they said. Yet, she was no more liberated than her ninety-five-year-old grandmother. The images of socially constructed beauty pulled her back every time she tried to take a step further; crushing her confidence and identity each time she aspired to climb.
Reducing the worth of women—her intelligence, charisma, independence, success—to her figure marks a disturbing shift in the ways girls/women are valued. The proliferation of our social and cultural space with increasing unrealistic images of beauty has resulted in generations of women trying to conform to an unattainable standard.
Lyrics such as Gham Le Malai Sataula, Kaali Malai Banaula or Baruli Kammar in songs represent strong beauty myths created by our society. Advertisements with ultra-thin, tall and perfect looking models have contributed negatively to the female body image. Women are expected to adhere to stronger standards of physical beauty with each passing year.
Women have been flogged with the idea that to be beautiful they have to look a certain way: thin, fair, small nose, shapely eyebrows, smooth legs, silky hair etc. In fact, this social conspiracy seems to portray a woman to be natural only if she has shapely eyebrows or ‘non-hairy’ legs. These illusions seem to force a woman to try and ‘naturalise’ her already natural body. Hence, she would rather spend hours in a parlour or gym to attain the so-called natural feminine ensemble acceptable to society than achieve any other goal.
It is alarming to see how most women, young or old, rich or poor, are not satisfied with their physical appearance. The unattainable standards of socially constructed beauty coerce women to go through painful experiments such as cosmetic surgery and suffer from anorexia nervosa, a serious mental disease that involves compulsive dieting and excessive weight loss. Activities like these are extremely disturbing and are issues that need to be dealt with severity. Social cultural prioritisation of beauty which women apparently need to attain in order to become ‘better’ or ‘happier’ leaves a great burden in her that she desperately tries to lessen throughout her life.
It is not easy to erase these constructions of beauty that has been imbibed in us since childhood. We need to manifest the idea of ‘beauty’ into a vast concept that encompasses and reflects all forms of human beauty, in all of its diversity. Let our un-waxed legs and unshaped eyebrows not lessen our confidence or hinder our success. Let’s first, start with a celebration of inner beauty and a building of inner confidence. Let’s start with the realisation and understanding of what it truly means to be a woman—a phenomenal woman!
Gautam is a student at Lady Shri Ram College For Women
Published: 20-07-2015 08:20