Body hair, pale skin, dark skin, fat, saggy breasts, small breasts, visible pores, wrinkles, grey hair, blackheads, cankles, thin eyelashes, thin lips, no thigh gap, unsightly labia, the way you smell, the way you DON’T smell. There’s a product available at a store near you to fix them all! And if a product in a packet can’t fix them maybe you need surgery, or maybe you could just spend the rest of your life in a cardboard box, hiding away from humanity so as not to upset little children with your hideous visible pores.
There are a million and one dodgy business opportunities out there for unscrupulous entrepreneurs, but few have ever been as successful as those who launch themselves into The Beauty Industry. First they told us about our unimaginable deformities, then they told us they could fix them, conceal them, make us feel better about ourselves, get a husband, make other women wish they were us, make us thinner, make certain bits of us fatter …… and yet no matter how many problems we fix, there’s still more! MORE FLAWS!!!
Here’s a different line of thinking. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with women at all. Maybe how we LOOK isn’t actually the problem, maybe it’s how we FEEL. And maybe, just maybe, we feel the way we do because every single image of women we are exposed to comes with some sort of critique. From magazine covers where women’s bodies generate public debate, to movies where the shape of a woman’s body is used to tell us what sort of character she plays long before she ever opens her mouth.
The truth is that every single “flaw” women are sold solutions for is imaginary. There are two types of bodies. Healthy and unhealthy. Of course that’s an extremely simplified way to look at it but sometimes we need to simplify things to help us deconstruct them. The images used to promote health are airbrushed, the images used to promote beauty are airbrushed and digitally enhanced, the idea of health and beauty that we ascribe to is unattainable. If it were even remotely within our grasp, the beauty industry would go bankrupt.
The industry sells us images that even teenagers can’t live up to, it leaves TEENAGERS thinking they need breast “correction”. Images of breasts that need “correcting” adorn the webpages of plastic surgeons and push up bra companies, and leave girls and women feeling woefully inadequate, and desperate to go under the knife.
The thigh gap is a new invented body part, who only knows who invented it, but whoever it was is responsible for a spate of eating disorders across the world. There are millions of hits when you google thigh gap, from how to get one, to how to “cheat” in photos so it just looks like you have one. But the most frightening ones are the ones where eating disorder specialists talk about the only way for most of us to get a thigh gap is for us to develop an eating disorder. So the beauty industry is selling eating disorders too. Without an eating disorder you can’t fit the right jeans.
All the products sold under the banner of The Beauty Industry are marketed to us as products that will make us feel better, feel empowered, be the best we can be, etc etc. They claim there is a link between how you look and how you feel, and this may well be true, but it’s The Beauty Industry that created that link with their blanket marketing – otherwise known as propaganda. One of the more savvy brands has now realised that women are waking up to their tricks, so they have switched tactics. Instead of telling us that we aren’t good enough, they tell us that we ARE good enough, and we need their produce anyway ….
Feminists have been smeared for suggesting that women don’t need to alter themselves in order to fit in, however the smear campaign has skewed the feminist critique. Feminism isn’t about never painting your nails again, it’s about QUESTIONING WHY women feel so pressured to do it.
Women have felt substandard for long enough now, and the idea that women buy beauty products because they choose to, and because they are living some feminist dream where we have a multitude of choices, is false. Yes, we have the option of not buying beauty products, but given how miserable many women feel with grey hair, wrinkles, and a body that has been lived in rather than sat on a shelf for fifty years, it’s not so much of a choice.
So by all means, paint your eyelids beautiful colours, wear the shoes that make you smile, colour your hair, cut other hair off …. it’s your body! But don’t do it to make yourself “better”, because you are good just the way you are. You are good because you are a human being, not because your hair is straight, or curled – whatever is in this season – or because you fit ridiculously small pants. Your worth comes from the simple fact that you are human. On the days where you feel as if you aren’t good enough, send an email to someone in The Beauty Industry and give them a piece of your mind, but don’t waste your money making them rich, save up for something nice, like a holiday!