by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 22 October 2006)
For me, last Thursday was one of those days when a woman wants to look her best. Therefore, I went out and bought a new outfit last Monday and made sure to get some sexy, strappy three-inch-heels to go with that outfit.
I promptly went home and put on the whole ensemble to see how it looked in the mirror, but I was completely disappointed. It was not the sexy shoes that I found disappointing or the clothes either really; although the outfit did not create the statement I wanted to make for my special day.
What I found disappointing was myself. All women have bad hair days or that outfit that we thought was so cute only to realise much too late that it was a huge mistake to wear it out of the house. However, my disappointment was deeper than this. I just did not feel beautiful at all.
Most guys who are still reading this column will no doubt shrug their shoulders and excuse my insecurity as nothing, but for any woman, it is vitally important that she feels beautiful – especially on special days.
In a world where feminine beauty is honoured above almost all else, including intellect and money, most women want to be as pretty as possible or she loses self-esteem. I know how shallow this sounds, but it is reality nonetheless and this week was a week when I wanted to be beautiful instead of intelligent.
When I told my husband about my feelings, he laughed out loud and told me I was absolutely beautiful. He thought I was being absurd to think I was ugly and I know he does think I am beautiful, but I still did not like what I saw in the mirror.
Lucky for me, when I woke up on Thursday morning and put on my new clothes and shoes, found a matching clutch from my closet and did my hair and makeup, I did like what I saw in the mirror – for the most part. So even though I felt ugly earlier this week, on Thursday I felt pretty. Go figure.
In some ways I was frustrated with myself for being so superficial concerning my looks, especially when I am constantly telling women to rely on their intellect over their looks. On the other hand, we all live in a society that is driven by beauty and are therefore going to fall victim to the insecurities of coming up short when it comes to being beautiful.
On Friday I saw Dove’s new commercial for their real beauty campaign that seeks to show women as they truly are. This ad is only available on the Internet (you can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_aDpmfAzxI) and shows a woman who sat in a chair for ten hours as several people worked to make her “beautiful.”
Once all of that work was done, the next phase started on the computer where they enhanced the woman’s image by elongating her neck, airbrushing the blemishes that makeup did not cover, enlarged her eyes, shortened her shoulders, made her lips fuller, etc.
After ten hours of work and hours more on the computer, the woman’s image was finally ready for a billboard. How realistic is it for any woman to look at that billboard and aspire to be as beautiful as this image of a person that is not even real? Even more, how realistic is it of a man to desire this type of beauty?
I am so tired of driving down the street and seeing a billboard of gorgeous women and feeling like I do not measure up when those women are not even real. I am sick of the media constantly presenting images of women that are unrealistic and unnatural.
The women in fashion magazines are not even real, those images have been so doctored up that the real woman was lost in the process.
I am even more pissed off that my daughters are targeted victims of this twisted and abnormal definition of beauty. I do want them to feel the insecurities I felt earlier this week because they do not measure up to society’s distorted view of beauty.
This column is far more personal than my usual political prose, but I know there are other women out there who have suffered from these same types of insecurities and I think it is time to take back our self-esteem from these phoney images posing as real women.
Advertising critic Barbara Lippert recently told CBS that 98 percent of women from around the world do not consider themselves beautiful. This is a flabbergasting number and absolutely intolerable. I am 37 years old and have no intention of living the rest of my life trying to look like I am 25.
I want to look in the mirror at 50 and like what I see, not through the lens of a society that creates an illusory representation of 50-year-old woman doctored to appear much younger, but through the lens of a society who appreciates the wisdom that accompanies facial lines and grey hair.
To that end, I am joining Dove’s campaign for real beauty. Ladies, when you look in the mirror today, it is my hope that you can look past the socialisation of fake images and appreciate your real beauty. Push those insecurities of whatever it is you do not like about yourself aside and allow yourself to love your eyes, your lips, your hips and your hair.
Allow yourself to love all of you, because there is only one of you and that fact alone is pretty amazing. Oh, and if you have one of those men who tell you that you are ugly or fat, it is time to find someone who is worth your time.
Tell that loser goodbye and find someone who will light up your eyes. Listen sweetheart, there is nothing that will make you feel more beautiful than a man who loves every inch of your body. By the way, those sexy heels accomplished their desired goal.