While discussing how one should celebrate International Women’s Day this year, a friend said:
“It is not just the abuse outside that we women need to fight, but we have to fight an inside war too.”
I did not quite understand what she really meant, but before I could ask she went on:
“You know what, this Women’s Day I am going to work without make up and jewellery. Just to be with myself.”
Although I’m not someone who shuns make up and I consider every piece of good jewellery, a work of art, I without getting my friends point completely also agreed with her completely.
Men, women, young or old, who does not want to feel good. But to attach strings to ones external appearance with the feeling of goodness is when the trouble starts.
If the ‘feel good’ feeling is within one’s self esteem, the outer accessories will be for a mere change, not ‘improvement’.
I am often surprised why many agree to Marylyn Monroe’s quote “Every girl should be told that she looks beautiful. I was never told this in the childhood.” I do not concur.
What every girl should be told is not that her face or pony tail or frock looks pretty but that her mind is beautiful or courage is awesome.
I have never heard someone tell a boy that his shirt or knickers look beautiful, instead they are told that they are strong or courageous. And thus comes the difference in perception of self as one grows up.
Apart from your upbringing, the fault also lies within how a woman is projected in the media as a commodity. Fairness creams, slimming diets, cosmetic companies, and aesthetic clinics reap profits at the cost of a woman’s battered self esteem.
Is it not ironic that whether we get positive or negative comments on physical appearance, both induce the same anxiety to look better?
I learnt from a teacher who once said, if you compliment someone’s looks, is it not a silent statement to someone who you are not complementing that ‘you are not good looking.” Hence if you can’t compliment everyone, it is better refrain from complementing at all.
I have a friend’s whose self esteem is so high that she often jokes:
“If anyone ridiculed me saying ‘ugly’ referring to my not so perfect looks I tell them, ‘I wish to hug you; because I know how hard life is for the visually impaired’.”
For many old school feminists wearing makeup and jewellery is anti-feminist and oppressive. Yes the idea of not being able to leave the house without make up is anti-feminist, and to associate ‘make-up is beauty’ is anti-feminist. What also makes it oppressive is when one’s self worth is tied to one’s looks, hair, skin or size number.
Women who choose to wear or not wear makeup or jewellery are making a decision about how they wish to be perceived. If not conforming to the dictates and demands of society on appearance empowers women, then so be it. A feminist, who goes without make up, is no more or less feminist than a woman who does.
Feminism in my eyes is all about expression of one’s femininity in one’s own unique way. It certainly does not overlap with the standards laid down by someone else.
Adorning jewellery and makeup is an art form of self expression and not a tool to hide one’s flaws in order to look like the model that appears on the cover page of a magazine.
Self image has no bearing on one’s physical appearance. Obsessed with looking better, some women (who may even be extremely beautiful by world’s standards) and even some men get very insecure and suffer from poor self image. In extreme cases it may even be manifested as Body Dimorphic Disorder. The underlying depression and anxiety leads them to resort to dysfunctional eating disorders or unnecessary plastic surgery procedures.
So let people say or think whatever, know that you are beautiful. For beauty isn’t skin deep.
As for me, not just to support my friend, but to support the woman that lives inside me, my external self too will go without jewellery and make up on International Women’s Day. It is not to show down my good old friends, jewellery or makeup, but to tell them that they may be dear to me but they are not indispensible.
Tip : Celebrate this International Women’s Day in a way that makes the inner woman in you feel empowered and beautiful.