‘Female Dragonflies play dead when they don’t want to mate’
For years the imagery of the female body has been used to subjectify and exploit the femininity of the baby bearers of the world. Not only for profit but to idealise and create templates for the ideal version of ‘beauty’. Women have surpassed the most judgement throughout history and it is evident that social trends within beauty has existed for thousands of years. Different cultures bring different standards and it is these standards that are commercialised and used to set these unrealistic perceptions of beauty. The idea of beauty has been standardized and it is easy to feel unattractive if you do not fall within these so called “standards”.
The beauty industry is a business let’s not forget, just as there are trends within industries such as fashion and music there are trends within beauty. These trends can favour our personal genetical make-up at times, but at times they can seem alien to us and what we identify with. This is what unsettles our self-esteem. If you are constantly looking at these images daily, then it will change the way you look at yourself. If you are relating these images to a positive stimulus but you do not identify yourself in this way, then this will only construct a negative view of yourself. A relevant and most recent trend is the idea that having a big bum makes you desirable. Within black culture it has always been celebrated having a curvy figure, women of African/Caribbean descent tend to have this attributes but because of popular culture and the exposure of social media females are squatting for dear life to get that perky derriere. Let’s remind ourselves that when black females ask “Does my bum look big in this?” we want the answer to be yes, it has not always been the same way with Caucasians.
“Man admires and often tries to exaggerate whatever characteristics nature may have given him” – Charles Darwin
Take within the Chinese culture the idea that the fairer the skin the more beautiful you are or the idea that in India more skin whitening products are sold than Coca-Cola. These similar ideologies can be found in many other cultures such as within Pakistan where you are treated differently by the shade of your skin or within Black culture where the light skin women are used within media to portray the “attractive black women”. It is silly to suggest that it is only black women that come across these pilgrims in life because in fact the act of colonisation by Europeans has changed the perception of beauty across the globe.
Self -acceptance amongst dark skin women has always been seen as a ‘movement’ or an ‘awakening’ but why is it that we don’t see this as a trivial thing but as a message that has to be imprinted into our consciousness. We seem to associate black empowerment with a cause but why can’t black women loving themselves be a part of everyday life without labels being casted on it such as ‘melanin queen’ or ‘Black is beautiful’. The fact that we still need to use the slogan black is beautiful proves that we haven’t come far in educating our young black girls of their legacy in our history or the important role black women played in the development of civilisation.
The philosopher Santayana called beauty “ Pleasure objectified” , it is undeniable that beauty is perceived and the media and misconstrued outer influences can shape the ideal form of beauty. There is a divide between black females and males that we can say has influenced the way that the media has been able to sexualise the black female. The current rise in the ‘Melanin trend’ (I use the term trend because it is popular and is being used for commercial purposes) where people are openly expressing their love for their dark skin is a step in the right direction for black people but people have used this to fabricate a false acknowledgment of the cause. Take Bryson Tillers ‘Something tells me’ video where the casting only consists of women of colour. It is inevitable that the casting was done intentionally but people ignore the fact that they are all in swimsuits. Why do they need to be half naked in order to convey their natural beauty? Can we question that this is the backlash that is conceived when we look at black female empowerment? That we have to sexualise it for it to become engaging and interesting.
The objectification of women has created an unspoken theory of control that men think they obtain because of this idea that men are mentally and physically stronger than women. We can argue that many of the lengths that women go to, to look aesthetically beautiful is to please men but there are also females who understand that beauty starts with the way we view ourselves. As females, we are constantly judged by our appearance and it is easy to fall victim to hyper-masculinity. The open sexualisation of women done by both men and women has set the tone for a ‘no-boundaries’ attitude when it comes to some men. Verbal and physical abuse on women because of rejection is a huge problem something that I have experienced before. Women should be able to dress how they want without being harassed or provoked by men and females should be able to say no without being intimidated. The egos of some men make them feel as if they should never hear the word no, when in fact a female has every right to not want to be groped, or spoken to in a disrespectful manner.
“ It is clear that between what a man calls me and what he simply calls mine, the line is difficult to draw” – William James
It is hard for men to believe that females want to look good for their own self -esteem when there is this mass conception that every woman wants to look good for the eyes of the opposite sex. Through my exploration into events that have occurred in the case of rejection; I have come across incidents where women have been punched in the face because they have told a man to stop touching their bum, spat on because they refused to give the man their number and verbally abused because they said no to not wanting to dance. This bruise on a man’s ego is camouflaged by commenting “you think your too nice” or “why are you dressed like that then?”.
It is important to understand that as a woman we have the ability to entice the imagination of a man and destroy his ego all in the same sentence. It is important to understand that what makes you beautiful is was makes you different to everyone else. Everything you consume whether that’s through social media or television makes an imprint on your mind and it is important to filter what you are exposing your mind to. Beauty starts from within and no commercial will tell you that. You know why? because you cannot put a price on it.
Written by Kelliesha White @Ghettohippi