Women At War With Women
For anyone familiar with the feminist movement, even if you’re only aware of the stereotypes associated with it in the media, you should be aware of the internal battles many women wage on image. I want to analyze this issue from several different points that don’t resemble the usual blame of the media picture you’re shown.
Nobody is incapable of being the victim of self-hate, so understand in advance that I am speaking in generalization when I refer to any group. There are several things I’ve noticed whenever I’ve read, watched, or heard anyone talk about the issue of women’s dislike of their bodies:
They often say all women, when it is probably important to take into account that both Black and Latina women suffer far less from eating disorders and body image hate, as we tend to embrace fuller figures. Though this is a fact, I will not jump to say White Women’s problems with their image would disappear if they took a page out of a Black or Latina woman’s book, because that would be suggesting every woman is naturally fuller or curvier and those that aren’t, work overtime to achieve the “boyish” and “slender” figures we often see criticized, when that is untrue. There isn’t one kind of woman, so we as women need to stop pretending that there is. We get too excited when a skinny woman is criticized and a larger woman is uplifted, women are women, one body is not more precious than another. We need to get excited for praise of any female body type, and if we aim to see that in the media, we should start by praising it ourselves.
The media is usually the most blamed culprit, as it is a male dominated industry, however, if you talk to most females, they’ll probably tell you their mothers spread the body image criticism more than anyone, followed by other girls they’ve know in school and throughout their lives. It’s actually not often men are the immediate source of women’s image hate, because they tend not to be as obsessed by the little things, like nail polish, hair color, and every other trivial thing we women spend precious time stressing over in attempt to avoid another woman’s petty criticisms. I do not doubt or challenge the fact that the pressure women face about their images originated from being treated and viewed as objects by men of the past and it has since been engrained into our cultures. But today, while men do still play their parts, we are playing far too big of a role in perpetuating our own hate.
The fact that today, we are still using Marilyn Monroe to criticize the glorified images of “too-slender” women in Victoria Secret ads, when in-fact, Marilyn Monroe was still about a size 14, White, Blonde, and has never been the average woman, and never will be, as such a woman is nonexistent. (Especially in a country that suffers from an obesity epidemic). It is unfair to counterattack one image of women with another image of a woman because there will always be women who do not look like whatever image you advertise and you are feeding insecurity.
As a gender we need to stop buying into and selling these images of women, period, even if we mean to uplift ourselves, because there will never be such thing as the average woman so no image will describe one. Throw out images of Rosie the Riveter, Marilyn Monroe, Kate Moss, Twiggie, Tyra Banks, and any other woman that has ever been used to represent an ideal, even if it was meant to have a positive effect, because they don’t. An idolized image of anyone other than yourself creates comparisons, and comparisons are meant to reveal negatives in yourself, throw them away. Not a woman in this world looks exactly like the woman next to her, nor could she wear the same things flatteringly, or like the same things, so why are we constantly trying to criticize each other and idolize each other.
Don’t attack slim women because you say they are spreading an idea of thinness, because there are women that are that thin. Don’t attack women who are very shapely, because there are women that are very shapely. Don’t attack larger women because you don’t approve of their weight or find it attractive, they are the majority. Stop attacking women who’s body’s you admire in everyday life, and stop criticizing female celebrities for their weight gains and losses, especially when you should actually sympathize, since they experience the same daily struggles you do, but theirs are on display for the entire world.
You must understand that every woman is the victim of battles with their images and you will never be happy if you don’t accept what you, as an individual, looks like. It is too often that we, as women, allow other peoples words to become our reality. I encourage every woman to realize that in society, we are victims by this system, and we must stop furthering the oppression by hating one another. Accept no criticisms from anyone, even your own mothers, even though they mean well, they fight their own demons, and too often pass those demons down to their daughters. Be and look like exactly who you want to look like, and if that makes you conceited, make a badge and wear it with pride.
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