Objectifying Women : Society’s Obsession with Beauty

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.

Abdul Baha

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.

23 thoughts on “Objectifying Women : Society’s Obsession with Beauty

  1. Sadly, we live in a world where looks carry a lot of weight, and many pay lip service to honoring the person within. Nevertheless, we can all add our voices to encourage change; even if it is in small increments. TY! 🙂

  2. I admire you for speaking out what we all think! I think this is a great point of view, well written and it got to the point!
    Too often looks is more important than what’s behind. Discrimination, insult and humiliation are often the results…
    Well done!

    1. Thanks for your support raani. It’s by far only an introduction on the topic, but I couldn’t agree more that we tend to humiliate and discriminate those who do not fit those standards and the ones who do. It’s a bit insane

  3. I’ve written a few blogs on this topic and I agree with what you’re saying. How do we help to change a society that is stuck on playing the game? It’s a catch 22. Men objectify women, and women dress and act as objects. Who makes the first move to change the way the game is played?
    If women quit presenting themselves as sex objects and quit thinking they have to compete with other women for men, will men change also? If women quit thinking they’re here for men’s entertainment, will men quit looking to us for their entertainment?

    Here’s an example of what I’m saying: I have a small part-time business that requires me to set up a booth at a few different types of events. When I set up for a hunting & fishing show, a golfing show, or a motorcycle show, there are “always” a group of women hired to walk the aisles in sexy outfits, and sometimes string bikinis. Some are part of a group and they sell their soft-pron calenders, sign autographs, and strut their stuff while the men watch and lick their lips. If the women refused to be there to sexually stimulate men in the name of entertainment, would these men change their way of thinking?

    I don’t know that women are willing or ready to give up this role of being a sex object, any more than men are. Sorry for the long reply. I tend to get on my soap box with this topic.

    1. Thanks for your amazing input. It’s really a huge issue , which effects young girls even more than in the past. It’s getting really scary at this point. Did you see the recent huffington post article on young girls rating whether they are beautiful or not?

    2. Even more reprehensible is that today’s young girls don’t even have a chance to develop an individual sense of their own total beauty because their own mothers objectify them by subjecting them to the moral servitude of becoming “pageant babies”. I have noticed that whenever there is something morally repugnant in our society the trend is to make it into a reality show as if to make it appear more socially acceptable – la! Mean girls, shallow men, frivolous “housewives”, golddiggers, yadda yadda yadda. If only we could find a way of making TRULY feeling good about yourself and others into some kind of vapid, silly, crass and crude farce of a tv show…

      1. The reality show thing is the pits. When I look at the topics of these shows I could puke. But, here’s the thing. People watch this kind of stuff so it stays on the air. It speaks to the state of humanity’s consciousness. The more stupid the topic, the more viewers.

  4. Women never felt they had any power until they realized that the Achilles heel of a man was his penis. In order to gain ground and triumph in the household, many women used sex to get what they wanted. You couldn’t reason with a man about why you needed a new dishwasher or money to buy new shoes for the kids. You had to make him “happy enough” to give you the things you needed. I think this thought process has continued and although I applaud the women of that time for using whatever weapon they had at their disposal to reach their objective, its simply not all we have anymore. Men say they accept feminism but only if it wears a thong and high heels. As women we continue to perpetuate it within our own gender and it’s sad. I for one and more envious of Suzanne Collins and JK Rowling for being brilliant in their pursuit to write great novels then I am of Kim Kardashian in her pursuit to date Kanye West.

    1. Thanks for your comments 🙂 You know the other day I was thinking, women in the past had to fight for their rights to vote,go to college but now that we have those rights women are subtly demeaned in the media , esp if they are smart. I have a paper I did in college about the femme fatale I think I will resurrect it 🙂

    2. I agree with you wholeheartedly. We must get past this just as we have had to earn the right to vote, earn the right to control our own bodies (though we may lose that right if the NeoCons have their way) and earn the right to decide who we sleep with, when and how often.
      The only thing I can recommend is that if you are beautiful, try to use your beauty to make the world a better place. Beauty doesn’t last forever so you better become something more or your life will be overcome with sadness.
      I am very impressed with the example of Angelina Jolie, who played some great parts (not talking about the “Tomb” movies), did much to advance UNICEF and now is making movies herself.
      True beauty comes from a heart that is overflowing with love!

  5. We surerly don’t need any more Presidents of either sex, running an empire of pillage, plunder and profit for the benefit of a tiny, insignificant handful of bloat, parasitic worms. We need revolution. We need women to step up and step out with the recognition that trying to reform the capitalist-imperialist system is nonsense. We need to seize the productive foprces out of private hands and operate them to SERVE THE PEOPLE of the world. More at revcom.us

  6. This an absolutely wonderful post! This is a subject that needs to be talked about. I completely agree with you 100% and Women especially need to learn to love ourselves before we can love others. I have shared this on all of my social sites, subscribed to your feed and have added you to my blogroll for I think your website would help a lot of my readers! I had to learn the hard way (nearly killing myself with an eating disorder) to love myself. Once I realized that was the key to success in recovery I have found that recovery became easier, as long as I continue to feed myself with positive affirmations I continue to grow as a person. I am now 15 years sober (wow that seems so crazy to write) and I still to this day have to shower myself in praise in order to keep my head above what society tells us through all types of media (that you must be thin to become anything). This is such a horrible thing we are doing to our youth and it is killing them off one by one. It is people like you who get the word out and make this world a better place. I appreciate your work and with your permission I would love to use this post on my site (I will put you as a guest blogger so that it will help with SEO rankings). Also, I would be glad to do a guest post in return. Please feel free to say no, for I am okay with that and will just send peeps by using a link. I look forward to your next posts and to hearing from you, you have a new fan! Wishing you abundant blessings.

    1. That’s so nice of you. By all means, I can write something similar on your blog … and you are welcome to write here as well just let me know what you want to write about 🙂

  7. Beauty really doesn’t matter. I don’t wear any makeup at all whereas whenever I got to the mall I see girls frolicked with miniskirts, short shorts, and tanktops, blush, fake hair, fake teeth, etc. I am natural and I think we all should be natural. Natural is actually extremely healthy for you in the long run. All organic food, soap, toothpaste, and shampoo. I have never had acne or a face full of pimples.

  8. Of course it’s not good if a society were to only judge people on their looks and nothing else. Yet the fact remains that beauty is not skin deep, it is an advertisement for your genetic health, especially your fertility. The reason men value beautiful women so much is not because of the media, it’s mainly due to biology. Men have been programmed by millions of years of evolution to go after the most beautiful woman they can get, all men want beautiful women.
    This doesn’t mean you can’t be be valued for other characteristics and achievements, of course you can and should be. But when it comes to attraction looks will always win out, and the most beautiful women will always have the first choice of men.

  9. I agree with what you are saying, I heard that there has been evidence recorded that proved the part of the male brain which recognises tools will be stimulated when looking at women in bikinis. We are apparently hardwired to see attractive women as objects, but that is not an excuse!
    My blog on this topic is one of my most viewed http://phillatimer.wordpress.com/2011/12/23/teenage-pregnancies-failed-relationships/
    Women and men need to consciously see each other as sons/daughters, sisters/brothers and we will actually look at people in a different manner, the “imperfect” looking person may actually be the perfect person for a role or relationship, as we all know the “perfect” looking person is not always the perfect person!

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