I’m taking a psychology course this semester that highlights women and how they are perceived in and by society. How cool is that?! In class, we talked about the perception of beauty as an asset and what society considers as ‘ugliness’ as a stigma.
What is that about?
Have you ever wondered why princesses in fairy tales are always beautiful, long-legged, long-haired, wide-eyed, creatures that don’t even need a skincare routine? Or why these princesses often need to be saved by a handsome prince. ? On the flip side, villains have stronger, off-putting features, with a mole, some horns, one crows foot and two large pimples. Lol.
It is also evident in the dolls we used to play with. Fair skin, blond hair, long legs with very unrealistic body proportions. So, you can see, no one is really born thinking that being less than perfect is a stigma. It is more of nurture than nature thing. We are thought to think that way. But why is that?
Feminine beauty ideals of the world
You’re expected to be perfect and effeminate. You’re expected to not be masculine, not be too brash. Be delicate. Be fragile. Dress a certain way. That’s how the world sees it. That’s how the world knows it to be. Lighter skin is better. Curvier bodies are more desirable, etc. And God forbid you to deviate from societal norms.
That would be the idea of why girls took to bleaching their skin, getting implants and all. That is why there is colourism even among women who think that their lighter skin makes them better and more beautiful than darker-skinned girls.
And so the girl with vitiligo or a conspicuous birthmark is bullied. No one wants to be the girl that is stick-thin anymore. Or that has natural voluptuousness. We then begin to self objectify.
It’s a man’s world?
It all shows that the way we look and present ourselves is as a result of the disparities in gender roles and gender identity. Particularly, the patriarchy. “It is a man’s world” is most likely one of the most popular phrases you grew up hearing. And because you believe that, you value yourself based on how the opposite sex values you.
And so you begin to do things because…your partner likes them. You relax your hair because he doesn’t like it kinky. Then you bleach because he’s into light-skinned girls. You go through all forms of procedures because you don’t want to “lose your body” and make him uninterested anymore.
Women seen as beautiful get more recognition, placement and generally more attention that women seen as ugly. Women are placed in marketing positions for the sole purpose of using them as a tool to gain male investors into a company.
Women are used to advertise whiskey brands or car brands whose target audience is mostly men. Because for sure, a 5’11” long-legged, blonde model in a bikini has something to do with your next car. *more eye rolls*
And so, ugliness then becomes a stigma just because the world says so. Be it facial ugliness, body disproportion, body dysmorphia, skin conditions not seen as the norm eg Albinism and vitiligo. These women aren’t portrayed in mass media because men and other women don’t generally find them attractive. And so other young girls with similar issues do not get to find themselves represented in society.
The world just wants “the perfect girl.”
Rewriting History and ideology
What a time to be alive. So many reconstructions are being made to what has long been considered as the standards of beauty. Pop culture influencers now encourage women to love their bodies and to be proud of it.
So what does this have to do with anything?
My sister, I’m not even sure. Lol. It’s an interesting conversation to have in class, especially seeing how progressive some of our lecturers have become. Or maybe they have always been and we students just never noticed. Anyway, just thought to let you know what I have been up to, who knows, I could be the next equal opportunity advocate on the global scene.
Do you have any thoughts about society’s unrealistic beauty standards? I’d love to hear in the comment section.