As a mother to two adolescent boys, I’m conscious of teaching my sons that there is more to a woman than just the way she looks.
All too often women’s talents, worth, and contribution are overshadowed by their appearance.
The same, however, does not ring true for men. Balding heads and facial lines are a revered sign of masculine sexiness and proof of a life well-lived. Women on the other hand are lining up in droves to paralyse their faces with poison to create a complexion smoother than butter.
We spend countless hours and dollars to remove anything that doesn’t fit the mold. Body hair? Wax it. Grey hair? Dye it. Wrinkle? Inject it. Saggy butt? Implant it. Excess fat? Suck it out.
Because that’s how society defines beauty.
Even the most beautiful and self-assured woman could not possibly be immune.
Thanks to social media, there is a now a constant flow of information and opinions on how we should look.
A 24/7 game for the modern woman called comparison.
A game we can never win.
And so, we continue—marching on, slaves to a billion-dollar industry that feeds off our insecurities. And those insecurities are often so deeply ingrained we no longer even hear the stories that feed them.
As my son watched me colouring my hair this morning, he asked, “Why do you do that, Mum?”
“Oh darling, it’s just what us woman have to do…”
“No you don’t,” he responded, both innocently and rather matter-of-factly.
And in that moment, there is nowhere to hide.
I stand silently—hair dye in hand, caramel pigment staining the corner of my temples—both proud and ashamed.
Proud that my son sees through the B.S.
Ashamed that I do not.
That despite all my efforts of not buying into the “beauty beast,” it has still infested its way into my brain, my beliefs, and my behaviours.
How is it that a few white hairs in the millions that sit atop of my head can make me feel like this? So damn insecure that I unquestioningly pour a chemical wonderland on my head every four to six weeks to fit back into the illusive beauty mold.
So, before you next peel, cut, inject, dye, wax, tan, or plaster yourself with makeup, be mindful of your motive. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look your best, but when it moves from celebrating ourselves to concealing or ridding ourselves of things that are part of us, we are on a slippery slope from beauty to shame.
Being aesthetically pleasing to the eye is not the price we must pay for being a female.
Our worth is not determined by the colour of our hair, the size of our thighs, or the lines (or lack thereof) on our face.
Within each of us are gifts and talents waiting to be shared with the world.
These are where our true beauty lies.
Author: Samantha Mair
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina