How Meghan Markle’s “Royal Wedding” Look inspired a new round of Women Shaming.

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Over the past few days, I’ve noticed numerous Meghan Markle memes circulating around social media—and some in particular have come to my attention, as they fall into the “woman shaming” category that I hoped we were growing out of. 

The ones that bothered me most suggested that women should be more like Meghan and less like [insert the name of a woman who is often body or beauty shamed, and someone we’re not supposed to want to be like].

One popular version that has been shared all over the internet for some time now states, “In a world full of Kardashians be a…” And following the royal wedding, many social media users have taken to add in, “…be a Meghan,” using photographs to compare the amount of makeup and type of clothing Meghan wears to that of Kim Kardashian. What most of these memes fail to mention is that Kim also chose a more natural look for her wedding makeup, and wore a dress by the same designer Meghan chose—Givenchy. In fact, they’ve also been pictured wearing the exact same outfit as one another. 

These memes seem to focus on the fact that Meghan chose not to wear false eyelashes, draw on thick eyebrows, get a fake tan, enlarge her lips, or use excessive amounts of makeup on her wedding day. The goal here being to suggest that it is more desirable to be a “natural” woman, rather than the type of woman who chooses to use, wear, or do any of the above.

There are quite a few things that I find disappointing or contradictory about this message, but what I want to make clear to women (and men) is that no woman is less than—less equal, less desirable, or less beautiful—just because she chooses to accentuate her features, or because she feels more comfortable, confident, or attractive when she decorates her face or her body. Beauty is subjective, and what one person finds attractive may be the total opposite of what someone else appreciates. And pitting one woman against the other does nothing for any woman’s self-worth or self-esteem.

Women, and men, have been adorning their faces and bodies, using paints and cosmetics, to accentuate their beauty since pretty much the beginning of time. And some were much more flamboyant and creative than most of what we see today.

I also find it ironic to see women sharing these memes when the majority of us use some kind of beauty enhancement, even if it’s not clearly visible to the rest of the world. Meghan herself is known to have an expensive beauty routine, including £650 facials (which is the equivalent of almost $900). She is believed to spend a huge sum of money and time to get her curly locks straightened in what is said to be a “torturous regime.” Her hair and makeup alone for her wedding day is said to have cost a reported $13,000—just to create that “natural” look. So although she may not have worn false eyelashes or heavy makeup, she still invests a great deal of time and attention to ensure she looks immaculate.

Not every woman has those types of resource available, so if they choose to accentuate their looks in other ways, then it seems highly unfair for anyone to judge them so harshly. And even if they do have the money for these enhancements—what they do is their choice.

Women get shamed for wearing no makeup and making no effort, but at the other end of the scale, women are also shamed for putting too much effort into how they look. Women, when put up against other women, just can’t win. 

Some women choose not to wear makeup, but cover parts of their bodies in tattoos, or use colourant on their hair, or express their personality through the clothing they wear—it is all artistic, individual, and equally beautiful, so why do we compare one woman to the next? 

Women should be cheerleaders for other women. We should be empowering one another and sending a strong and clear message out that every woman is equal, perfect, and visually beautiful in their own right, regardless of how different they all appear. 

So many women deal with low self-esteem and find that makeup, body, or facial enhancements help give them the confidence to face the world. And then here come the body and beauty shamers, tearing them down for it instead of showing compassion and understanding—instead of being kind enough to make them feel good about themselves. I get that self-love needs to come from within, but has anyone considered how difficult it is to love yourself when the rest of the world is bashing people who look like you and telling them that how they show up in the world is trashy or wrong?

Appearance is important to people of all walks of life, whether male or female, and to see social media shaming one style while praising another—without knowing the work it takes to create the “natural” look—is saddening, and no doubt has made so many women feel as though the way they express themselves is not acceptable. 

It’s time we do more to encourage women to respect one another and to be exactly who they want to be, to feel safe to choose how they look without fear of humiliation and condemnation, and to help one another to reach a place of self-love and acceptance. Instead of comparing and pulling one another down, we can show one another that it’s not about reaching ridiculously high standards to match images the beauty industry portrays—it’s about personal choice and feeling the comfort and ease to embrace our unique self-expression. 

As Gabourey Sidibe once said, “One day I decided that I was beautiful and so I carried out my life as if I was a beautiful girl. I wear colours that I really like, I wear makeup that makes me feel pretty, and it really helps. It doesn’t have anything to do with how the world perceives you. What matters is what you see. Your body is your temple, it’s your home, and you must decorate it.”   

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Relephant:

Here’s what “got Date 2” with Meghan Markle.

Why Wearing Makeup (or Not) is a Feminist Issue.

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Bonus: What to do when our Relationships get Tough.

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5 Mindful Things to do each Morning.

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Author: Alex Myles
Image: Facebook; Twitter
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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Alex Myles

Alex Myles is a qualified yoga and Tibetan meditation teacher, Reiki Master, spiritual coach and also the author of An Empath, a newly published book that explains various aspects of existing as a highly sensitive person. The book focuses on managing emotions, energy and relationships, particularly the toxic ones that many empaths are drawn into. Her greatest loves are books, poetry, writing and philosophy. She is a curious, inquisitive, deep thinking, intensely feeling, otherworldly intuitive being who lives for signs, synchronicities and serendipities. Inspired and influenced by Carl Jung, Nikola Tesla, Anaïs Nin and Paulo Coelho, she has a deep yearning to discover many of the answers that seem to have been hidden or forgotten in today’s world. Alex’s bestselling book, An Empath, is on sale now for only $1.99! Connect with her on Facebook and join Alex’s Facebook group for empaths and highly sensitive people.

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Shân Williams May 29, 2018 9:13am

I’d like to see us move away from the ‘ pornographication of women who into sex objects epidemic that is seen as so ‘normal ‘now. This is what society is throwing at us all the time as the epitome of beautiful. When my sisters are going under the knife to feel beautiful and accepted - when their very unique gorgeousnese is being destroyed it scares the heck out of me. Who is profiting from this macabre game? Think I need to write an article as an veering off from the tooic a bit!

Melody Green May 26, 2018 11:04pm

Thank you for sharing this important post about body shaming and judgment. Judgement is a huge issue at the momen that the angels would like us to address as a step towards a more kind world. your can find our more on instagram @melodyrgreen

Connie Habash May 26, 2018 9:15pm

Although I think you make a good point to not shame people just because they wear more makeup (or less), I found it a refreshing statement by Meghan. It's unfortunate that some might be using that to shame others. You don't have to wear a lot of makeup (or any) to be beautiful. You can be your own true self and that's more than enough. Her spirit was regal - she didn't have to be born into it, nor to try to make herself up to look like royalty. We all have access to that regality of spirit within.

Connie Habash May 26, 2018 8:56pm

I completely agree - althought I don't think shaming women who wear makeup is the answer, I'd like to see more women viewing themselves as beautiful just as they are... even without makeup. I think what makes women (and men) beautiful is when they radiate their authentic self from within.

Robin Massey May 26, 2018 7:25pm

Yes -- thank you for this thoughtful reply to a great article. Great points to add.

Robin Massey May 26, 2018 7:24pm

Well said! Thank you for this reminder.

Roxanne Nelson May 26, 2018 5:39pm

I agree with you on that. While there is a lot of shaming, it has gotten to the point where anything you say is considered shaming. And especially about being overweight/obese, which is becoming a global public health crisis. You are now called "curvy" if you are overweight and "voluptuous" if you are obese. Its body diversity! Seriously, all of the whining about pseudo shaming diverts from real shaming, and in the case of obesity, a diversion from the devastating health effects.

Tim Dibble May 26, 2018 4:24pm

I wonder if it ever stops? From corsets and bustiers, powdered wigs, to fake eyelashes, butt lifts and more, the nature of people has stayed the same since the dawn of time. The rich, in order to separate themselves from the masses, create something new. The masses indebt themselves to mimic the wealthy and attempt to establish themselves in the social pecking order by denigrating others. Both men and women do this. The forms change, but the game stays the same.

Shân Williams May 26, 2018 2:29pm

Hello, Thank you for your article. What I heard matra’d from last weeks wedding was not about Meghan’s natural make up but about how disappointngly plain her dress was! What echos is the knee jerk slaughter of a woman on her wedding day. I agree with your point about we woman walk an impossible tightrope of ‘ acceptable.’ Personally I thought she was absolutely beautiful as always are. Personally I loved her simple style. This is where we differ though. I haven’t heard the natural make up comments that you refer to so I might misunderstand the context .... but here goes ..to offer an alternative to the media obsession with fakery can only be a positive...where inflatable lips, chest, eyelashes, butts are thrust at women as the only WAY of feeling beautiful. Cartoon characters sculpted with a knife usually by a mans hand on a beautiful woman has become so normal now... epidemic...what? ... we get upset now when it’s even questioned or challenged? Sinister I reckon but hey...

Kate Krol May 26, 2018 2:15pm

You cannot comment or say anything critical about women because it is shaming. If a women looks ridiculous you cannot say it, if a women is obese you need to pretend she looks beautiful and healthy of course.

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Nancy Vedder-Shults May 25, 2018 5:22pm

Great article, Alex. The only thing I would add is that the shaming only aids patriarchy, which subjugates women in all sorts of ways and wants to "divide and conquer."

Jennifer Evangelista May 25, 2018 1:57pm

How we choose to "package" ourselves is our choice alone. It's a form of our self-expression. It saddens me that for all the talk of men focusing too much on a woman's exterior, that women can't support each other's individuality even if it's not a look we'd choose for ourselves. Personally, I know what I like for myself and what my limitations are but I also appreciate a beautiful woman who has Realla completely different look that suits her. Perhaps if females could foster more sorority amongst ourselves and celebrate the amazing substance of our being women, men (I'm aware not all men are shallow) would develop a more in-depth sense of females beyond the surface. I've never understood the concept of comparing oneself to others. In my opinion, shaming others for such superficiality stems from personal insecurity. stems Love this article - always love to see your work, Alex!

Shruthi Krishnaswamy May 25, 2018 12:29pm

I totally agree with you. Unconditional love for oneself is the most beautiful thing and leads to bliss 24/7 !! it is important to cultivate and affirm the fact that ‘ we are all beautiful just the way we are. We are all imperfectly perfect and that’s ok! We are flawsome! Flaws are awesome too !

Galina Singer May 25, 2018 10:42am

Many important points raised here, especially the truth behind the real cost and effort of "natural" beauty of Meghan and that beauty is subjective. However, I am compelled to make a point regarding this: "So many women deal with low self-esteem and find that makeup, body, or facial enhancements help give them the confidence to face the world." I agree with you. I only wish that more effort was made to teach women where the real self-confidence comes from and to accept themselves as they are, in an effort to free them from the tyranny of the multi-billion-dollar cosmetics and cosmetic surgery industries, which thrive on women's insecurities.

Shruthi Krishnaswamy May 24, 2018 8:54pm

Thank you for sharing this important and beautiful message. Why the judgment , right? There are days when I wear no make up and days when I do . Both equally beautiful ! Live and let live ❤️