Mirror, morror on the wall…Stare at a full length mirror to view oneself self critically. Wonder if one’s hips are too wide or thighs too big. If one’s breasts are pointing south rather than north, or if a muffin top is starting to spill out of the new skinny jeans. To see if that bald spot has gotten balder or that new zit has rendered you hideous and undateable.
Sometimes the mirror reflects the real. Sometimes it exaggerates.Sometimes it distorts. At times it lies.
And the people around you are not so helpful either. Firstly, ideals of beauty are largely subjective. Ofcourse, the impact of media and cultural scenario cannot be denied, but still, different folks, different strokes. Secondly, people, even friends and well wishers, are at times governed by their own insecurities, lack of confidence and plain old jealousy- all of which would make their opinions biased.
And then there is the media, dictating to us what ‘perfection’ is and the infinite ways in which we should strive to attain it. Magazines, movies, fashion industry and recently instagram-it is as mass media was very well designed to breed body image issues and nothing else!
Oh, and do not forget porn. Porn is the worst! All those surgically ‘enhanced’ bodies captured in perfect lighting… G/H cups that are resistant to gravity, ‘monster’ male members that are in a constant state of arousal…Enough to make one hastily switch off the lights during sexy time.
Body shaming is a nasty business. On one hand, they call healthy and normal looking women ‘fat’ and ‘plus size’ and ‘whale-like’. On the other hand, some claim that ‘real women have curves’- as if a lack of the same would make one less of a woman (what would that make her -a hermaphrodite?).
We know how these affect the average man or woman. Eating disorders. Abuse of drugs. Excessive exercise. A sense of worthlessness. Loss of will to live. And all of these because of an image in the mirror that may or may not be real…
“Ideal beauty is ideal because it does not exist; The action lies in the gap between desire and gratification. Women are not perfect beauties without distance. That space, in a consumer culture, is a lucrative one. The beauty myth moves for men as a mirage, its power lies in its ever-receding nature. When the gap is closed, the lover embraces only his own disillusion.” says Naomi Wolf in The Beauty Myth.
Honestly, I am not worried about the existence of an ideal. What I am worried about is the lack of existence of multiple ideals, all of which are equally desirable. That there is a new ‘curvy’ Barbie doll for sale (who is flawless in her own way, by the way) is not enough. Unless her body type is considered at par with the ‘original’ Barbie’s, it is not going to help much.In fact, it is not going to help at all…