This Thursday I began what I intend to be a weekly one day juice fast. I have suddenly become addicted to juicing, but I digress. When telling a friend that I was doing this she said “Imagine how skinny you’ll be” and then followed up with “But you don’t need to lose weight”. I told her this wasn’t about weight loss; that it’s more about will power and gaining control of my mind as well as a little detoxing. Why do people in North American cultures assume that everything is linked to their weight? This, of course, is yet another example of this cultural obsession with looks and with being thin, as if there is only one form of beauty. I’ve had similar conversations with friends over the years: A friend contemplating botox because she’s over 40 (who incidentally is beautiful in the cultural norm way). People suffering from low self esteem because they “are fat” (no one is fat, we have fat). There is a much needed push going on these days to get out of this way of thinking. Young women are posting selfies without makeup. I watched a video this week on Upworthy (found here) that showed a woman stripping off everything that is uncomfortable like excessive amounts of makeup, high heels, a tight dress and hair product in the name of feminism. These are good steps, but we really need to get further. How do we get to a place where we have appropriate expectations of other? Or better yet, no expectations at all? I understand in many careers we want to look professional and that may mean dressing in something that isn’t yoga pants:) But does makeup make us more professional? Does it help get the job done more effectively? Of course not! Why are we celebrating women’s looks above anything else? And we women do this to each other. The friend I mentioned who was contemplating botox was doing so because another friend of hers told her she could use it. Aging is a completely normal phase in life. Are we afraid of our own mortality and fight it by looking younger? Maybe that’s part of it, but there are definitely different expectations of women in this area. So it can’t be only fear of dying. I hear women talk about disappearing after 40- no one notices them anymore. Is this true? Do we disappear? (I’m 46 now and I haven’t noticed this, but I tend not to notice the subtleties happening around me.) Is it our relationships with men? Do men care that much what women look like? Or is this something that women have internalized from the few vocal men who think that women are only useful if they are acceptable arm candy? I don’t think that’s the case. Do men feel this pressure too and just hide it better?
I’ve been lucky in my life. I have a pretty good body image (better now in my 40’s than it was in my 20’s I must say). I wear a little makeup, but never the foundations and concealer and what not. It takes me about 10 minutes to get dressed and put make up on in the morning. I really have no idea what people do that takes so long. I guess I just wasn’t raised that way. I was a tomboy as a kid and I kind of still am. I don’t have to dress up for work so if I go in with jeans and a t-shirt it’s okay. Makeup is optional and if I don’t feel like doing anything to my hair that’s okay too- it’s long I can wear a pony tail- or not- whatever. I’m comfortable with this. But I recognize it isn’t the norm. So how do we get past it?
I’d love to hear some thoughts on this subject. Maybe it’s different where you live? What’s your experience?