This blog post is more for women. Although I would be curious to see if men ever experience this too.
I meet my girlfriends for brunch and something has recently caught my attention. We tend to mention how as children we were often told by our mothers what we have to do to look pretty. “Don’t make a frown you will have wrinkles” or “As a woman you shouldn’t leave the house without make up”. The memories still taunt us, in the back of our heads, they still sit and remind us of standards that were put on us.
You can’t blame the mothers although it seems like the most natural thing to do. They engraved beauty standards on us at a young age that make it hard to accept our looks and wear our skin with pride. But, they were just doing what they thought would help us succeed in life. For most of history, women only did well in life for marrying men. Good looks meant good, rich husbands and good, rich husbands meant good lives. They were, in the weirdest extent, trying to protect us and ensure us a great future not knowing they were doing harm for us.
You would think nowadays, women know better. They know that society puts pressures on girls and we should do everything to protect them. Yet it seems we are not doing enough. According to the Guardian
More than a third (35%) of seven- to 10 year-old girls agreed that women were rated more on their appearance than their abilities, and 36% said they were made to feel their looks were their most important attribute.
I guess we can say there is still a lot of work to be done. So let’s start with ourselves. If we care less about how we look, and focus on our abilities, we project that out to society. If we don’t focus on vanity, we dress for ourselves and we show off our intelligence, we pave the way for future standards. As the article mentioned above points out:
Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said women and girls were “persistently judged on what they look like” and suffered “significantly higher” rates of depressions and mental illness. “This is serious. As a society we need to face up to the fact that objectification and harassment is ruining girls’ lives and we are letting it happen,” she said.
So how do we pave the way and get rid of our mother’s voices in our heads?
First – forgive your mother. She was trying her best to let you know how to get by in the world. She probably was held to the same standards or even worse. Luckily you are able to walk away from these and build your own as society has progressed.
Second – every time you look in the mirror, you cat call yourself. I don’t care how if your hair is sticking up, if you have a new red shiny pimple or you look like you got hit by a truck. Go: “Hey beauty” or “Hey Sexy”, which ever one makes you feel like the true fabulous diva that you are.
Third – just risk it. Go out without make up one day. Or without having your hair done. You will notice: No one will care. Because that’s how important looks are. They are not.
Forth – Give the love to all the ladies! Tell each girl she is beautiful for who she is. Because you cant change society but you can make each and every person out there feel adored. It takes so little and can make such a difference. Tell her how her intelligence makes her beautiful, her dance skills give her grace, her wit could light up a room.
Imagine if someone had said that to you instead of telling you about wrinkles as a child, how good that would have felt. If there is one thing we learn in life, is that we can spare others some of our pain.