To revise, the Oxford dictionary defines the term beautiful as, 'pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically or 'of a very high standard; excellent.' But I have a huge issue with this term.
For years, women (and men) have carried the torch of feminism, commanding respect, equality, and rights in the society for both the sexes. We have been fighting persistently to be recognised for the things we are capable of doing and the roles that we are capable of playing. Instead of being viewed as pretty china dolls who grow up to become the plus-one of someone, we want to be seen for the potential we really have in changing the world. Today, women are going places in all fields, from science and technology to arts and architecture, leaving no stone unturned to prove our mettle. So, why aren't we concentrating on this?
Then comes the problem of body-shaming. Society ranks women on traditionally established norms of beauty. Psychologically, we start measuring ourselves against these superficial benchmarks that do not take into account what we are, how we are, and the things that we are capable of. We allow the mirror, and the people around us, to give us a verdict of where we really stand in this societal hierarchy of beauty and succumb to these suffocating norms. But isn't beauty subjective? What's beautiful to me may not be beautiful to you. So is it fair to judge people on something that has no set parameters?
The problem runs much deeper but it starts with the desire to be complimented and appreciated for our looks, aspiring to match yourself to the misleading, photoshopped, and airbrushed versions of beauty that storm social media. It begins with an aspiration to become someone you are not, then becomes an obsession, leading to self-hatred, low self-worth, and depression. We forget that we all are blessed with unique features and body types. However, this maddening quest to attain a certain level of beauty, which most equate with a magical wand that would get them greater respect, more popularity, more fulfilling relationships or some other kind of deeper satisfaction can be destructive.
From Beauty and the Beast to the Ugly Duckling to the Hitch, fairy tales and rom-coms alike have been instrumental in feeding our brains with these self-destructive ideas of laying all the focus on the outside, instead of what really lies inside. It wouldn’t take a genius to guess why the number of people with mental health issues, including eating disorders, encountered annually, on account of body-shaming have shot up drastically.
We love to be complimented. For our work, for our creativity, for our ideas. The face isn't something that we have done anything to get; it's good genes and God. Besides, people use adjectives to be generic, when they have no idea who you are and take your worth at face value, literally. And why should the face decide my worth? If I don't conform to the conventional standards of beauty, am I not worthy of compliments? It's a complex question, but an important one. Ask yourself the next time you call someone beautiful or you get complimented by a variant word, is it objectification?
Breathe in, breathe out, shun these societal norms of beauty and learn to realise your true worth. As women, let’s pledge to step down this podium and refuse to be ranked.
When you say no to being called beautiful, you say no to something much greater. You say no to being reduced to just another pretty girl. You say no to being defined by the way you look. You say no to body shaming. You say no to conforming to the socially defined gender roles. Say no to being defined by flowery words.