The Trap of Beauty

It is said that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. However since ages, women are made to change themselves to fit the ideals of beauty set by the beholders i.e. the society. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look better but there is fine line between self care and camouflaging oneself for the sake of the society.

Every culture and country has had its own way of defining and demarcating a certain body type or feature as ‘beautiful’. Recently, I learnt about a Chinese beauty trend that shocked me. Years ago in China, women’s feet were bent, broken and then bandaged to achieve the Golden Lotus Feet, which were considered a mark of beauty. When I read this, I was quite taken aback. This tradition just made me realize how much the society expects from women. Breaking the feet of daughters for the sake of beauty sounds so horrifying and barbaric.

The above mentioned tradition might seem so extreme to you. But is this any different from what we are doing these days? Have we been able to change these unrealistic beauty standards? The answer is: No. Things have only gone worse. If we consciously look around, women are increasingly being judged for how they look. In Vietnam some mothers buy plastic surgery appointments for their daughters’ birthdays. In Korea, women are made to surgically break their jaws and get new ones to have a small beautiful face. In America 1 million women cut open their faces, chests, butts and stomachs to be beautiful. In our country, the obsession with the fair skin tone makes girls extensively use products that could lighten their skin.

We live in a very difficult world and we are constantly put under a lot of pressure and told to look in a certain way. The pressure to be a certain way and the lack of acceptance of naturally appearing body traits has made us actually consider the bone crushing and other extreme beauty standards. We cross all limits to become desirable, accepted and appreciated. Consciously judging our actions, we can find ourselves taking many extreme steps to achieve perfection- going under the knife, killing our feet with towering heels, breaking our noses to change the shape, whitening our skin, living with plastic and silicone in our chests, starving ourselves to have diminutive figure, pumping our lips to becomes bigger and fuller….the list is never ending.

In my opinion, social media and the fashion industry, both are to be blamed for setting such unattainable trends. These spaces breeds a bacteria of insecurity. When we constantly bombard the younger generation with a certain idea of what is beautiful, they subconsciously try to imitate and fit in it. young girls are made to think that only skinny is pretty. They starve themselves and also fall prey to horrendous trends like ‘binging and purging’. Social media stars too channelize and shape the thinking of the youth by setting trends. An infamous example can be Kylie Jenner, a social media youth icon who started a trend of lip fillers to get a selfie ready pout.

The judgmental eyes of the society add on to this problem. Everyone is born different. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. A particular weight looks different on different individuals. By judging and commenting on the one who does not fit in the ideal type, we are severely hurting the self-confidence of that individual. This idea can have damaging, life-long effects on a person

In a world which massively focuses on the outside instead of the inside, such beauty trends are going to continue. Beauty comes from within. It is the heart of the person and not her outward appearance that actually matters. There is beauty in everything, curly hair or straight hair, blue eyes or brown, a chiseled face or a chubby one, slim or a fat body, dark or pale skin. It is very important to just be yourself.

It is a shame that women responsible for shaming other women. This is not our fault, but we are the only ones who can change this.Body image is something which can only be changed from within. Be confident with what you are and no one can force you to change. It is time that we break this cycle of defining beauty generation after generation. Let us be more inclusive. Let us embrace our uniqueness. Let us stop defining beauty.

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