When I was 13 years old I asked a question that I had been concerned about for some time. In fact, I asked two male teachers and they both answered basically in the same way. I asked them
“Do you have to be pretty to get ahead in your career?”
Both answered in the same way. The first one answered :
” Yes, of course. But you won’t have a problem”. ( Gee.. thanks.)
” Of course ! Looks are important…”
I was so shocked that it stayed with me to this day. I HATED the day of being judged on my looks… how does that in any way measure my intelligence, my creativity or my sense of self? It felt like wherever I went, I was being objectified and it disgusted me. I had gone through a period which most girls go through where I was quite vain. I would spend hours staring into the mirror.
But it was never enough. I was constantly scrutinized, and if I was up to the insane standards of perfection which was impossible even at 13- I was objectified. Women are given set constructs of who they are supposed to be, and most of them are based on how they look.
But then it dawned on me a little like this :
This affirmation might be true, yet why does the culture of competition perpetuate such aggressive behaviors among women, particularly targeting their looks? Why are women in the news beautiful yet the men beside them can be allowed to be unkempt, ugly and fat? Why are men constantly taught that they need to have “arm candy” without substance?
Our bodies are our temples. That’s true, but it is also a temple which has a limited shelf life. Why are the superficial values of our physical appearance such held to an insane standard? Why are women constantly exploited in videos, music, tv shows and films?
It seems that we perpetuate a vicious cycle of constantly promoting the religion of superficiality and toss people back when they don’t live up to those standards. Why do we stand for this as women, and gleefully participate in our own degradation? On the other side of the coin, men are expected to objectify women or sexualized them if not they are not “masculine”, and they are forced to have a limited view of what people are based solely on how they look.
Yet we cannot ignore that we are all visual beings. We will celebrate beauty, just the same as we celebrate the beauty in nature. This is wonderful. What is wrong is how we judge others based on those standards of perfection. What is wrong is seeing beauty as an end to something and not just another tool for development. Focusing solely on beauty will not further or enrich our lives, it is an ephemeral thing which lasts only for a time.
True beauty comes from the beauty of the spirit.
Mortal charm shall fade away, roses shall give way to thorns, and beauty and youth shall live their day and be no more. But that which eternally endureth is the Beauty of the True One, for its splendour perisheth not and its glory lasteth for ever; its charm is all-powerful and its attraction infinite.
I admire Ashley Judd for writing that concise and interesting piece about her own experiences with the subject. I would only hope others would follow suit and be honest about these current topics.