8/9/15 – BEAUTY
My Sister, Tahisha Chery, please share your story Love One:
A 2014 study conducted by Dove shows that women who reproached the modern constructs of ‘beauty’ made over 5 million tweets. It’s more horrifying to note that about 80% of these tweets were women offensively targeting themselves. The study goes on to reveal that women are 50% more likely than men to write or say something negative about themselves on social media. These statistics had me fuming. As a representative of the female species and an avid user of social media, I’d like to be an agent of awareness and empowerment of all things feminine and naturally beautiful.
Pressure on women is at its highest peak; we still live in a time where a woman’s biological clock goes off at sundown, so intrinsically there’s always pressure to settle down and create a family at a moderately young age. And yet there’s pressure for women to be contenders to their male counterparts in the work place, in addition to the enduring pressure for women to look young, vibrant, trendy—virtually ageless to be deemed beautiful during all phases of life.
The lack of positive discourse toward the self has me thinking a lot about the way in which social media deprives women of embracing our natural design, our dignity, and how it sometimes reduces our ability to make sound decisions regarding these social mediums which also play a role in how we behave in the physical world. Every generation has an ailment—selfies just so happens to be ours.
A number of women post ‘selfies’ in accordance with an explicit or sexual nature for more “likes”, as if self-worth depends on it. It’s not for me to determine whether or not these women believe that they are truly beautiful, only they know the motivation for posting these photographs and hopefully those posts will not later be tried as an eternized woe. However, I do think it’s my social responsibility to honor the flawed woman learning how to love herself thoroughly, the mediocre matriarch conquering her majesty, and the “basic” bitches of the world with buoyant strides that tend to get overshadowed by store bought beauty. This is my commemoration, solidarity, and attraction for the “average”/“flawed” woman.
Interestingly enough, media once thought to be a beacon for understanding is now a conduit for various sources of misinterpretations and untruths. Often, we qualify one’s life through the images and captions displayed on our screens. We confuse distorted photographs with depictions of life stories, and captions are in turn confused with absolute truth. Image and language cause disorient as we try to construct the meticulously captured fragments of one’s life. The flesh is often manipulated and presented in an alluring way to be sought-after by men and women alike.
Instgram, Twitter, Vine and Facebook are a few of the largest platforms in social media used worldwide. Women post “selfies” to receive “likes”. The number of “likes” a photograph receives determines how aesthetically pleasing the woman in the picture is to others. She will either regard these “likes” as validation of her external beauty or take these “likes” as an indication that the way others perceive her has nothing to do with the way in which she perceives herself.
Women contort their faces and bodies to promote beauty products to earn the appeal of their “friends” and “followers” on these social outlets. Some of these beauty regimes include body wraps, waist trainers, contouring makeup, eye lash extensions, hair extensions, eyebrow shaping kits, scanty clothing, diet pills, teeth whitening sets, implants and injections, and so on. It all sounds so tedious and it brings to mind the many ways in which women throughout the centuries performed severe beauty regiments to make themselves more attractive to others to reap external rewards. Foot binding, skin bleaching, lip gauging, genital mutilation, and so on. Although these may seem like extreme comparisons of altering a woman’s physical form, they’re based on the same premise, that if a woman does (insert physical modification here) then she will be beautiful, well liked, and valuable. The problem commences when that external value becomes internalized as the catalyst for how a woman feels about her self—which is what occurs more often than not.
A recent trend on social media depicts young people (majority female) doing the #dontjudgemechallenge, which reportedly started as a campaign to end body shaming. Although the hash tag suggests a constructive connotation, the supporters themselves are hypocritical in their approach to end body shaming. They carefully place makeup on their faces to insinuate uni-brows, blemishes, acne scars, and disfigurements. Some even go as far as using faux teeth, or coloring their actual teeth to indicate poor oral hygiene and a substandard smile. The don’t-judge-me-challenger will grimace into a camera with their “ugly face” for several seconds, and then wave their hand in front of the camera and remove it only to reveal a face that is free of any blemish or imperfection. The face emerges radiant and fully decorated with “fleek” eyebrows, facial contouring, and all the constructs that are customary to our visual appetite.
The message of the #dontjudgemechallenge gets convoluted by its own crusaders. It’s hard to not be offended by the fact that these people are falsifying skin conditions that are exaggerated or foreign to them, only to totally adorn themselves with sensual maquillage in the final seconds of filming. What exactly are these ‘challengers’ promoting? Natural beauty? Or “on-fleek” makeup techniques? I’m not so sure. What message are the ‘challengers’ sending to young women who have blemishes or deal with image issues? It’s a shallow social understanding that natural flaws are not aesthetically pleasing and therefore they should not be beautiful even in accordance to the self. Because if we all went around taking ‘selfies’ of our pimples and scars, we’d surely be consenting pandemonium to social media.
The essence of the strength of social media is through the use of images and the rhetoric in captions and audio to persuade. My ambivalence towards social media stems from the fraudulent photography, cinematography and language that we use for pretentious validation and our failure to display the authentic truth.
Natural faces and bodies are infrequently praised or “liked” on social media sites. So we must turn to ourselves for some deep-seated self-love. Always remember that beauty is a far more an internal state than an external state. Let’s not degrade our nature by covering it constantly. We must develop an extreme sense of self to achieve radical self-love and appreciation of our personal beauty. If we embrace our natural “imperfections” more often instead of using makeup and as a prop, then perhaps more women will catch on and follow suit. The goal is to feel confident and sexy without makeup or body enhancers. We were all perfectly and fearfully made—don’t complicate the ‘perfectly’.
Love is Love,