To all my female readers—how many times a day do you walk past a mirror and frown? How many calories are you limiting yourself to? How many hours are you forcing yourself to spend at the gym to reach a certain physique? Because let's be honest, we know it's not about being "healthy".
We can pretend it is, sure. What's wrong with eating healthy and working out? One could argue, nothing. But as women, we know it's not about health. It's about conforming ourselves to the beauty standards of the time.
We're complimented for how much weight we've lost, deemed more beautiful, more appealing to the male gaze. We are taught from birth that we are objects—meant to sit quietly on a shelf, whose sole purpose is to be admired.
From a young age, we are taught to pluck every last hair, that we need makeup to look "better", tanning booths to get that golden glow (screw the skin cancer, right?), eyelash extensions, nails done, pretty clothes, long legs, big boobs, highlights…you name it, we need it. We are taught that we must change almost every aspect of our appearance. And, why? Because, again, that's our sole purpose—to look "pretty".
Every woman knows that most of our lives are centered around how we look—that's just a fact. But because it's so ingrained in us, it's hard to even spot just how much time and effort we're spending on the thing that matters least about us.
While in this day in age, we have made steps forward in what is deemed the "body positivity movement", there is one thing we are failing to recognize as a collective: being "body positive" still puts the emphasis and importance on our bodies.
Hello?? That's not the f***ing point!! We can love our bodies and feel confident in how we look, which on the outside looks all well and good, but we are still placing the utmost importance on our appearance. It's that "look good, feel good" mentality. Why do we need to "look good" to feel good? Why can't we feel good because we're smart, caring, intentional, passionate beings? Why must we feel the need to bust our asses in the gym, starve ourselves, get plastic surgery, and morph our bodies into someone unrecognizable?
Society has taught us that we are only worthy when we adhere to their ideals. And, unfortunately, it has taught our loved ones, and even ourselves to put these pressures on us.
When your grandma suggests you lose a little weight so that you can find a boyfriend, that's objectification. When your aunt recommends losing the low-cut shirts because you're attracting the wrong attention, that's objectification. When you're scrolling through Instagram and comparing yourself to a model, vowing to skip dinner that night, that's objectification.
We are objectified by society. We are objectified by ourselves.
There is so much unlearning that we as women have to do, and it is our responsibility to spearhead it for ourselves. It doesn't mean we must forego every appearance-enhancing practice, but ask ourselves the real purpose of doing these things. Is it for us or for others? If we're honest with ourselves, most of the time, the answer is the latter. We don't wear fake eyelashes, get laser hair removal, or get Botox because they feel good.
The key here is recognizing why we're engaging in these practices, and also when. Do body thoughts tend to creep in more when you're scrolling on TikTok? It may be time to limit your time there. Do they tend to occur when you're around a certain family member or friend? It may be time to set a boundary or two there as well.
To come back home to who we really are, we must cut off the people, activities, content, etc. that are keeping us in this deficit mindset.
While this will be a life-long process, it is my hope that we are able to unlearn what society has shoved down our throats, and teach generations to come that we are more than our bodies.
Because our bodies may be our vehicle, but what about the driver? What about her thoughts, dreams, ideas, and hopes? While women may be seen as second-class citizens in 2022, and our rights are being stripped from us as the days go by, we're very much over the misogynistic narrative.
And we're ready to fight back.