How to Start a Personal Revolution
We are up against a vast commercial system that preys on our insecurities. Breaking the cycle is hard, but we have to start somewhere…
We live in a competitive society that bullies and distorts our perceptions of ourselves. Subsequently, we are subtly coerced to find ways of correcting our insecurities. Where does a girl start her self-destructive journey? We need to look and feel good, as our self-esteem is not something we own, but is something that can be bought.
What We’re Up Against
Airbrushing model shots has been around since the 1960s. Even Audrey Hepburn had her miniscule crows’ feet and lovely but human-looking skin retouched with a grease pencil. Read more at the NY Times.
Our crushing lack of self-esteem can be briefly raised by the promise of so-called ‘treatments’ for spots, skin lightening creams, tanning products, depilatory creams, hot wax to eradicate any trace of being you. Because you are not allowed to love yourselves; that is the deal with the abuser. For any positive we may find in ourselves, the negative abuser will crush them. That, girls, is because our identities are measured by our breasts, thighs, youth and our ability to form heterosexual relationships.
Oh, what an array of angst-resolving products we have at our disposal. Where do we start? That airbrushed image will tell you you’re worth it as long as you can pay for it. This meaningless commodity will fill the void, delude and briefly sedate you, instead of dealing with deeper issues that you have painfully avoided. And if that spot, hair on your upper lip or the colour of your skin wasn’t enough to plague you with a wealth of insecurities… you can go further. If a cream full of sh*t can’t fix your esteem, perhaps a plastic surgeon can cut away the hurt and the self-doubt.
These supposedly quick-fix solutions to deep-rooted problems prey on female insecurity, but don’t worry, we have the cosmetic industry that deludes women that larger breasts, smaller breasts, liposuction, butt implants, collagen injections or a face lift will enhance the quality of our lives. But will it fulfil that delusory promise? Will our intellect increase with every form of self-mutilation we take? What does it take to appreciate what we DO have?
Our self-esteem doesn’t come from a bottle, a knife or a weighing scale. We don’t need to contribute to a culture built on self-loathing which thrives at our expense. The day that we learn to love and appreciate what we have will be our revolutionary moment. Break the cycle now.
Breaking the Cycle
The main way to emancipate yourselves is to realise that these notions of what is beautiful and socially acceptable stem from capitalism. Because the media has such an influence on us, people will accept these notions without considering why they are being fed to us. Read feminist literature such as Susie Orbach’s Fat is a Feminist Issue and Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch. I read these books as a teenager and they got me thinking. Every time you see an advert just remember that it’s designed to make you look for imperfections. Every time you think, ‘I don’t look like a model’, just remember who does look like a model – your seven-year-old brother. Remember this piece of advice from Naomi Wolf: ‘a cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience’. Consider how petty it is to strive to eliminate an inch off your waist just so you can proclaim yourself a size ideal. Stop comparing and start embracing. When you see another woman, don’t scrutinize and wonder who’s ‘better’. Appreciate her uniqueness as a person and yours. Neither of you are prettier or better.
Furthermore, don’t fall into a pattern of unequal relationships where your self-esteem relies on men wanting you. Appreciate and respect yourself as an equal and never accept anything less. Learn not to fear your body but explore it as a subject and not as an object.
Whatever our size, colour, sexual orientation, gender, toe-size, ear-size and breast-size… We’re all beautiful unique individuals. Start embracing that uniqueness.
Note from the eds: Because this article mentions them, you may see random ads for skin lightening creams or plastic surgery on this page. We can assure you they are random, based on keywords, and nothing to do with us. Nothing at all. Feel free to ignore them.
Photo: My Cinderella Dream