The other day I came across something that made me question the very concept that our society has been rooted upon:
What’s the greatest lesson a woman should learn?
Since day one, she’s already had everything she needs to be in herself. It’s the world that convinced her she did not.
Somebody once rightly said, “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” Women have commonly been subjected to derision because they apparently don’t conform to particular standards of beauty.
I’d never realized the extent of this global issue until I recently stumbled upon some horrific statistics. Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful and about 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful.
It’s very common to find one of our friends starving themselves day and night to attain that body shape they had seen in the magazine yesterday, or little girls dreaming to become like one of their Barbies they love to dress up , or our own selves being ridiculously questioned for our colour, height, or body shape. In this case, we have ourselves to blame.
This ideology has given rise to countless other physical, psychological and mental issues. It’s shocking to see that about nine in every 10 women and seven in every 10 girls stop themselves from eating and put their health at risk. Not just this, some women gradually lose all their confidence and fall into the dark trap of depression, because of which about nine in every 10 women and seven in every 10 girls opt out of important life activities such as spending time with their friends and loved ones. Women also believe that unless they look pretty, their decisions and views will not be considered due to which about 50% of women are not assertive in their opinion and do not stick to their decisions.
I believe it’s how and where all of us have been brought up, that has hugely impacted our thoughts and beliefs. It’s important that every individual understands that no beauty shines brighter than that of a good heart. All our perceptions will only change when the root of this cause is diminished.
For example, the way our media portrays women as desirable only when they meet certain beauty requirements has to change and instead inspirational stories of people who have risen against these odds and proved themselves should be presented. Our celebrities who hold a tremendous amount of power and responsibility on their shoulders should stop endorsing face whitening creams, should instead start promoting body positive campaigns instead. Our films that have since time immemorial rendered misogyny and unnatural beauty standards should aim to represent not the outward appearance of things but their inward significance.
Recently the crowning of our very own Manushi Chhillar created a lot of buzz inside and outside the media. In between this entire buzz I came across the criteria required for an Indian woman to be eligible to take part in the Miss India beauty pageant. The eligibility criteria caught me a little off-guard. Among all the other requirements, the criteria also mention that the candidate should have a height of at least 5’5″ (5 feet 5 inches). According to this, even an average Indian male might not get through these height requirements, whereas the average Indian female trails far behind this requirement, being 5 feet tall.
I strongly believe that standing tall has nothing to do with height, and it’s the strength that counts. I think the entire concept behind pageants is a little twisted. Every human is desirable in their own way and our physical appearance, that mainly arises due to what’s been deeply imbibed in our DNA, is no parameter to judge one’s ideality. My face and my body are God-given and the idea of restricting me because of something I’m not capable of changing is flawed.
A little while back, when I was reading the newspaper I came across some matrimonial advertisements. It’s a world of countless families looking specifically for “fair” and “slim” women as brides and “tall” and “handsome” men as grooms, commonly ignoring educational qualifications. I think these advertisements paint a very realistic picture of our society and its approach towards physical appearances.
I think its high time we change our thinking and unfasten this conjecture from all our minds. It’s time we stop wasting our time measuring ourselves against impossible standards in myriad ways. We need to enlighten ourselves about how physical beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and how our reflection does not decide our worth. What matters is what’s inside us. Our strength, determination, and perseverance are what truly define us, and our appearance is merely a means to communicate what our soul cannot express in words.
To all the wonderful people reading this,you’re all beautiful in your own unique ways. What’s left is to accept and know who you are. Eat because you love to, not because you’re depressed. Workout because you love your body, not because you hate it. It’s time we admire other’s beauty without questioning ours because imperfections are what make us all perfect. Remember, beauty starts in your mind, not in your mirror.
“She’s the kind of queen that knows her crown isn’t on her head but in her soul.” – Adrian Michael