Slim is beautiful, but have fat in the right places to look curvaceous. Fair is lovely. Don’t wear makeup; natural beauty is the best! Remove nasty pimples and freckles to have a clear, beautiful face. Wear modest, feminine clothing. Well, these are some of the comments thrown at women at every turn in their lives.
It’s a recurring cycle where society tells them how to look and what to do. But does it emancipate women even after following all this? That’s hardly the case. When most of the women around the world believe that being beautiful is important, but don’t actually think they’re beautiful themselves, there exists a huge problem propelled by mob mentality forces that drive women to reach unattainable goals of looking “perfect”.
Well, who sets such standards in the first place? Not a singular entity but a whole industry is cashing in on women’s insecurities. This subliminal conditioning not only hurts their self-esteem through body image issues but their relationships with other people too. Traditional forms of media leave a lasting impression by idealising self-preservation and sexual objectification. With warped conceptions, the disappointment of not succeeding in looking “beautiful” can affect an entire gender unconsciously.
Women are the world’s most powerful consumers, driving the majority of spending with their buying power and influence. Yet, we live in an age where many women feel that they are not adequately understood or represented, continuously be put into predefined grids.
While the termination of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show marked the end of the “slim body” era, it also signifies a change in mindset: bralettes and body inclusiveness over push-up bras and washboard abs. Amid their blatant cultural appropriation and narrow conceptions of what a woman should look like, outspokenness and outcry led to actual tangible change against the big dogs.
Stereotypes are pervasive views that shape beliefs about our own and others’ abilities. Until we can change these stereotypes, it’s essential to think about how we can better inoculate individuals from biases that can potentially ruin lives and create a narrow environment for growth in diversity.