This is probably one of the most popular question asked amongst young women across the globe. It doesn’t matter where you come from, or which part of the world you live in, women, especially young women, are placed into molds and have to live up to expectations of the male dominated society. However, repression is used differently in every culture, or tradition, far from the essence of its true foundations. In Europe it is how thin or how “sexy” you are, in the the Middle East its how small your nose is, in Brazil its how big your bottom is, in Black African countries its how light skinned you are… and so the list continues.
Where ever though, we can see a clear trend that beauty standards are not set with the will of women. They have been set for male satisfaction. When a young woman does not fit into the category set by the male controlled fashion and beauty industry, they are quickly labelled and excluded from the community. In other words, body shaming. This is an ongoing issue in the wider society. The media and especially Western society at large have been known to glorify and attribute thinking into being attractive, without paying attention to the concerns of physical health and mental well-being.
It shoudn’t be misunderstood, there is nothing wrong with being careful with the food that you consume, nor is it a problem with keeping fit by exercising and training. The real danger within these practices is the big question of why and who is this done for. The drastic measures taken, resulting in becoming obsessed with your appearance, leads into losing a sense of control over your physical and mental stability. Disorders such as Anorexia nervosa, Bulimia nervosa, Binge and purge and depression start developing. These are disorders affecting the physical, mental and spiritual health of a person. For instance, lets take a look at Anorexia.
Anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric illness characterized by maintaining a low body weight, self-starvation, caloric restriction, and body dissatisfaction. Often times, people suffering from anorexia experience a distorted body image, seeing themselves as overweight even when they are significantly underweight. Anorexia nervosa can also be accompanied by binge eating and purging (eating too much then vomiting). Anorexia nervosa is not a function of will, rather it is a biologically based illness influenced by the environment. These tendencies can include perfectionism and interpersonal sensitivity, when there is an extreme expectation from you. Depression, anxiety, social isolation and perfectionism commonly co-occur with anorexia. It doesn’t come as a shock to see that 90-95% of people suffering from Anorexia are women. With every era in history having a certain way of enslaving and repressing women, after the neolithic, Mother-Goddess times where life was weaved around women, we can see that the last and comprehensive attack on women’s existence is done through capitalist modernity.
The capitalist modernity and its affects on women, is responsible for unnatural disorders from developing. The standards it has set for women are frightening. With the system completely in control of media organs, being able to see an ethical way of advertisement and portrayal of products is impossible. Nearly every product is advertised with the the female body. A new, shiny sports car, and with no surprise, sat on it is a half naked woman. Selling products with objectifying and sexualising the woman’s sacred body has become a trend in the last century. With the rise of social media, this has been able to expand itself and reach audiences that are usually far from this. Everyone now has a smart phone, every one has at least two social media accounts. If used correctly, morally and in a dignified way its not a problem, but it has become a tool for the system to control the needs and wants of the people. If we take a look at Instagram, there are over one million makeup tutorial accounts, with new makeup techniques that change the shape of ones face. Fashion accounts, that use models that are unhealthily thin. If these are what young women are exposed to, the growing rates of disorders such as anorexia is expected.
However, the only way this will come to an end is through young women becoming more conscious on issues like this, organizing, creating alternatives and becoming their own will power. This cannot be achieved through being accepted and subsumed by the existing capitalist and patriarchal structures, the only solution is to completely rejecting the male dominated structures, and refusing to live up to false and destroying standards.
Rebêr APO says “I do not consider beauty outside of moral and political society as beauty. Beauty is moral and political.” Starving yourself for individualistic concerns is immoral, because its outside of the essence of the concept of beauty. The female body was not perceived to address the desire of male, but for everything that adds value to life, makes it worthy was counted to be sacred and beautiful. Only by forming self-discipline, struggling against the government and the state, one can preserve beauty and goodness. Rather than correlating beauty with sexuality and physical shape, we need to associate it with bravery, forgiveness, modesty, communality, standing up against unfairness.