By Sonakshi Samtani:
“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience
When was the last time you looked into the mirror and pointed out that extra pound of fat which you were so desperate to lose, just so you could step out more confidently? Not really long back, was it?
According to a Psychology Today survey conducted back in 1997, Indian women were far more satisfied with their weight and appearance as compared to their American counterparts. However, the current situation is a relatively new phenomenon. In the past decade, Indian women have become overtly conscious of their weight and appearance, excessively scrutinizing and pressurizing themselves to meet the superficial and unrealistic standards of beauty set by the National and the International media.
Due to the booming communication technology and entertainment industry, we are flooded with thousands of pictures on a regular basis, telling us what is beautiful and desirable. However, they project us with such a narrow and superficial definition of beauty which most women fail to identify themselves with it. Nonetheless, we are conditioned to consciously or unconsciously compare ourselves to those images we see everywhere.
We are so obsessed with trying to attain that flawless skin and tiny waist, that we ignore the fact that most of those images are photo-shopped or digitally enhanced. Moreover, our favorite models and actors undergo numerous corrective surgeries, spend hours in the make-up room and follow meager diets and strenuous workout regimes to look that way, most of which are not feasible for us.
The Indian cosmetic industry’s revenue is projected to be around Rs 812.7 billion by the end of 2014, consequent of women trying to look radiant and perfect all the time. Self-help magazines and internet portals are full of fad diets and weight loss tips which are anything but beneficial. Models and actors themselves have fallen prey to this vicious phenomenon and are victims of various eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa) and anxiety disorders (depression, stress) to such an extent that many of them lose their lives finding themselves unable to meet the perfectionist standards of beauty.
It is hard to imagine a world where idealized female imagery is not plastered everywhere. What we fail to recognize is the constant objectification of women in such scenario, ranging from ads to commercial cinema. Sadly, most women vehemently comply with this; a glaring example is Bollywood’s commercial cinema where most female actors hold no qualms in portraying ‘candy floss’ or ‘eye-candy’ roles in male centric movies.
What you can do is look up to women like Vidya Balan who puts substance before appearance, refuses to comply with the superficial norms of beauty and has carved out a distinct position for herself. Look at women beyond the entertainment industry, like Indira Nooyi, who has achieved great heights with her hard work, women who are everyday heroes – our mothers and every woman who stands up for herself. Women need to realize that they are more than just a number which determines their weight; there are more important things like inter-personal relationships, achievements and strength of character which actually matter. They need to stop objectifying themselves.