November 15, 2018

Embracing the flawed female body

I was 15 when my aunt said I looked fat. I would put my head down and feel embarrassed. I would scream from the inside and cry myself to bed.

Having a genetic disorder and a judgmental family planted a seed of self-hatred.

When we were little kids, life was fun, simple and empty of worry. We were unashamed, unrestrained and unprompted. If the body were thought of as an entity separate from the self at such young ages, it was how fast we could run and how high we could jump.

The question of body image starts to rise after someone calls you ugly for the first time, after realizing your favorite female figures in TV shows are skinny with perfect skin complexion. We reached a time where society has created a form of standard for beauty and body shape, especially for women.

We give girls Barbie dolls and give boys miniature construction tools. We start a hope for strength in boys and build a superficial fear in girls. This fear drives them to shame. The surrounding environment leads them to become restricted to fit in and prompt them to change who they are.

It is amazing what technology has brought to the human race, such as access to knowledge and ease of communication. At the same time, it has destroyed our sense of dignity. The media plays a major role in creating societies which follow orders with no second thoughts. Persuasive orders for nonstop consumption, put in ways to make people think they need more. These tactics leave a constant unsatisfying feeling of one’s life. Hence, women think of their bodies as unfavorable.

Women are exposed to TV commercials, billboard signs and social media every day. Each plays as a reminder of how far away they stand from being idealistic in their beauty. They start thinking about body fat percentage rather than health. They spend money on fat burners and weight loss pills. They invest energy in negative thoughts and self-detest rather than adopting a positive mindset and a pleasant lifestyle. They compare themselves to unrealistic models rather than women of extraordinary fulfillments.

March is Women’s History Month corresponding with International Women’s day on March 8. When we celebrate remarkable women throughout history, we look at their work and achievements not their clothing size and flawless skin. We look at women who made a difference. Women who influenced humanity. Ones that are dreamers and doers.

What about presenting these role models to little girls instead of creating a perfunctory world for them? What about teaching them how to focus on their inner beauty? What about expanding this narrow societal ideal of what beauty means?

The society needs to stop sexualizing, materializing and shaming women. It took me years to understand this maddening structure we live by. If my aunt is to look at me today and comment on my body, I would raise my head up high and tell her I am healthy and happy.

As the American psychotherapist and writer Amy Bloom put it, you may be imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed, but you are beautiful.

Embrace yourself, my lady.

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