Beauty as a Social Burden

beauty trends

Back to the time when the Oscar-winning actress and voted among the top sexiest women of all time, Sophia Loren started her career, she was told that her nose was too long and her mouth was too big. Hollywood executives did not like her face and the camera men suggested that she should get a nose job. The grim reality is that this idea of (enhanced) beauty was strongly imposed upon normal women everywhere.  

Beauty was no longer a philosophical notion, nor was it in the eyes of the beholder; rather, beauty was a poor standard that all women should comply with in order to have their appearance approved.

If you look around your streets, television, or magazines, you will find lots of women with administered Botox and fillers. There are others with enlarged breasts and buttocks, elevated nasal tips, brow lifts, or tattoos. There are no frown lines or worry lines, just extra volume in cheeks and lips and mismatched artificial hair extensions and colours.

Trendy wardrobe pieces are tasteless and something that women hasten to possess for no apparent reason. The real predicament is figuring out why and how so many women all over the world lost their tendency to practice individuality, simplicity, and originality when it comes to beauty.

A simple answer will be that in a globalised, industrial, and patriarchal world, beauty has become a social obligation. A woman either complies with a certain set of frivolous burdens and views in order to validate her beauty in competition with others, or she fights tremendously to empower her unique and original beauty.  

Imagine an ugly world that is pro-violence, pro-discrimination, pro-war, pro-terrorism, pro-poverty, and pro-abuse getting out with an idea of beauty; how perverted, degrading, and manipulative this idea can be.  

The real predicament is figuring out why and how so many women all over the world lost their tendency to practice individuality, simplicity, and originality when it comes to beauty.

A Western industrial mentality hideously exports a mediocre standard of beauty to the Eastern easily infatuated, consuming and appearance-obsessed society. The results are disappointing.  

It became a trend for women to abhor their bodies and aspire for certain (table d’hôte) fixed features; as if a sort of a wicked spirit taught them not to embrace the million-billion forms that beauty can come in.

Another force announced drooping skin, stretch marks, sags, wrinkles and aging as curses. Women are now meant to live as vampires: poker faces and eternal beauty, an idea that suits folk tales and urban legends of rejuvenation elixir and magical fountains of everlasting youth.

A Western industrial mentality hideously exports a mediocre standard of beauty to the Eastern easily infatuated, consuming and appearance-obsessed society. The results are disappointing.

Things would be better if plastic surgeons devoted their efforts to assess women of real medical cases, not to preach contouring facial and body features based on their specific view of beauty. They urge women to end up far away from being natural or satisfied.

Meanwhile, women are constantly subjected by the social burden and hitting urge of keeping à jour with beauty trends and directions. This kind of pitiful, overwhelmed, and victimised woman goes for broke to keep beautiful all the time.

Yet, no one has told her how artificial she will look after many sessions of recapping; and no one has simply told her to accept herself the way she is.

We all quest for beauty more plentiful than the sun that shines. Yet, it is ugly to lose our ingenuity on that journey. Maybe we seem weaker than the infatuation of the current trend, but we still have our voices to raise.

It is fine to go out without full make-up, without hair extensions, without any plastic interventions, without a fancy wardrobe, without fake eyelashes, without brows tattoos, and without high heels.

What really matters for a woman is to feel comfortable, confident, and real.  

I naively thought that the case was different in the Middle East compared to the West, and then I became a little hesitant about my hypothesis.  Beauty obligations in the Middle East are not that different from those in the West, as much as they are being condensed and more obvious.

Maybe the West was simpler than the East in the past, but now both are entrenched in the ghoulish beauty industry. Though obligation and expectation is already a part and parcel of daily life in communities of the Middle East, some women still cannot go to the beach without fixing their hair and applying their full make-up!

Another dilemma that befits the inherent patriarchy of the Middle East is the sorority of always considering what men want. As anti-feminist as it may seem, I lament that many women who comply with these beauty standards are being subjugated by the patriarchy.

Beauty obligations in the Middle East are not that different from those in the West, as much as they are being condensed and more obvious.

We ended up having a realm of men who are of less than ordinary but cannot settle for less than beauty queens.  Some women spend their lives exerting their utmost effort to satisfy their men’s beauty standards, to follow international beauty trends, to endure social obligations, and to imitate fashion icons. Lamentably, they never try to be themselves.

beauty trends

Young girls should have a specific shape, they grow up to be women of a specific shape, and end up as old women of a specific shape. They are never granted the opportunity to practice accepting themselves the way they are, nor are they tolerated for the way they are. An ugly society can never grant women happiness or liberation.

I humbly think that a new notion of women independence should emerge. Women should learn to accept themselves the way they are and never be controlled by industrialists, fashion makers, plastic surgeons, sick mentalities, abusers, media or society.

A woman should be granted perpetual access to beauty, without being obliged to cope with the ugly burdens of society and an era of forced women-shaping according to a deformed standard. It is our duty to teach the new generations to propel different notions of beauty and originality.

May the young girls of today grow up to be women who do not allow anybody to burden them nor wait for anyone to validate their beauty. “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

This article was edited by Hannah Bauman at Between the Lines Editorial. You can reach Ms. Bauman at [email protected] if you are interested in her excellent editorial services. 

Heba Essam

Heba Essam

Heba Essam was born on January 01, 1990 in Alexandria, Egypt. She studied English Literature in the Faculty of Arts, University of Alexandria, and then she worked on some Gender and women’s studies in the Middle East and North Africa. She is indulged into arts, civilisations and comparative cultural studies, and she is interested in preserving heritage and promoting cosmopolitan culture. Among her various interests are writing, ballet and photography. She is also a women’s rights activist and a humanitarian who successfully executed advocacy campaigns. She has been working for years with prestigious INGOs as a translator and a project coordinator, serving disadvantaged children and refugees. She was trained as a curator and tour guide and she shows around the city of Alexandria in a very different and bounteous stratagem. She is also an active volunteer in ecological and wildlife rehabilitation activities.

3 Comments
  1. This is a great article. I think it is important for women around the world to realize that beauty can come in many forms and does not have to conform to the women on TV or in magazines.

  2. It delights us that the article appeals to you.It will definitely be great if women just embrace themselves.However, beauty has been industrialised. It became more of trendy rather than individualistic. It has a market, markteers, capitals,and mind shapers behind. It became a sick infatuation because those in the industry have dozens of ideas to manipulate mindsets of both women and men. We need education, media and social reformation in order to stand against the industrialisation of even philosophical abstract notions like beauty. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us and please make sure you share the article; so we can reach as many people as possible.

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