By: Reenita V In a world where white bodies are the norm, it can create quite a complicated journey to find comfort in our bodies. Our bodies are othered, exotified, ridiculed and loved: we can be coveted for our life long tans while simultaneously being […]
Tag: body image
By: Reenita V
Growing up in Canada I found myself always idolizing the women in magazines, on TV and the movies. I wanted to be them, live like them, love like them and look like them. I knew my desires were not solely mine as often my friends and I would discuss our inspirations for our outfit choices, hair, future endeavours and we would all be chasing the dream to be like a certain character from our favorite shows. It may be a surprise to you, but we never achieved those dreams and goals because we were simply chasing an unachievable outcome. That outcome wasn’t the rich and famous part, but the desire to look and feel like the tall, slim build, blonde haired, white women who was constantly present in advertising.
Flipping through the ads of magazines,I was so aware of the stark differences between the girl in the magazine and myself . I was looking at images of what I will never be and as a young person, I was not being able to really realize that I will never look that way and it’s OK. As a teenager, I loved to dance and dreamed of being a ballerina one day; however, I found myself often battling the image of what a perfect dancer looked like. My legs didn’t go for miles, I had curves, I wasn’t tall, my hair couldn’t be slicked back without an obscene amount of hair products and every time flesh coloured mesh needed to be added to a costume, it stood out because I was dark. I became complicated because I didn’t match the norm.
While now older, I have a great grasp on the truth behind advertising, but it does not mean that it’s OK to be poorly represented or unrepresented. Recently, Dolce and Gabbana launched a line of hijabs and many rejoiced because a huge fashion brand was taking a hit at Islamphobia. While this is a great movement, let’s take a quick peek at what we are really looking at in the advertisement. The images shared by the brand show a faired skinned woman with stunning green eyes rocking the hijab. Why have the hijab modeled by a fair skinned woman? Raises some questions, right? What we are looking at is an opportunity to fit in, but only if you match the desired look light skinned brown girl image.
A few years ago, after a stressful semester at school, I was given the opportunity to treat myself to a complimentary manicure. A free opportunity to pamper myself! When I sat down with the manicurist who identified herself as south Asian, we immediately started the regular small talk about where I was from, what I was studying and then she said something that left me puzzled and insulted. She looked at me and said even though I am a dark skinned indo-Fijian women, I am still attractive. Um, Thanks?
These kinds of backhanded compliments seem to arise every so often. While I now take it as a grain of salt and assert myself by explaining how wrong that “compliment’ is, it doesn’t mean that the emotional tornado spiraling inside me wishes that that would be a greater respect for women, people who exist on every spot of the colour spectrum. We live in a country where escaping media and advertising would require being secluded, sans smartphone in the forest and that is unrealistic. We need to start recognizing the obvious and internal battles we experience on the daily. Not only must we try to drop these unachievable expectations to what is beautiful, we need to start questioning who is representing south Asian women and battling those who deem us darker gals as less desirable.
By: Saipriya V
In recent years the definition of ‘beauty’ and an ‘ideal body’ has changed among women. Looking thinner is considered to be beautiful. This is due to the harsh critiques of our society which consider women being ‘thin’ as beautiful, hard working and successful, on the other hand being ‘fat’ is considered as ugly, weak and lazy.
Globally, mainstream media’s especially women’s magazines and commercials portray beautiful and glamorous women to be very slender with thin long legs. Similarly, clothing companies often use size zero models in their advertisements, creating a very narrow definition of beauty. This trend about ‘perfect body’ has slowly seduced women and made them hate themselves. This idealization of the ‘perfect body’ made the weight loss industry more profitable, because they sell their products promising that their products helps to lose weight or helps to buy a certain brand of clothing.
Due to the strong desire for a ‘perfect body’, women are not completely satisfied with their body image, which leaves them stressed and anxious to obtain a ‘thin’ body. Due to this continuous ‘perfect body’ pressure women suffering from anorexia (eating disorder) has increased.
Eating disorders are more than just a problem with food, often it is associated with psychological problems. Women who are not satisfied with their body image often punish themselves by starving in order to have control of their life and to ease their anxiety and tension. Recent reports show that due to this obsession to look ‘skinny’ more young women are now malnourished. Just like eating disorders, due to the societal pressures to look thin can also push women to exercise too much. Over-exercising and unhealthy /under nourished eating patterns leaves women with severe health problems.
It is also important to understand that these trends partially uprooted as a result of capitalism, where the beauty and weight loss industries in order to sell their products made people to feel low and ugly about themselves. The “Mantra” of these industries are if you want to look beautiful, confident and stay happy then start using our products. This is how these companies make money and rule over us. “If tomorrow women all over the world looked in the mirror and if they liked what they saw reflected back at them, then we would have to reshape capitalism as we know it,” says professor Gail Dines.
Understanding the risk associated with eating disorders and focusing on health and well-being, no matter what size you are, is key to living a healthy lifestyle. Let us stop hating our bodies, thinking too much about our weight, because ‘beauty is only a state of mind, not a state of your body’.