Lucía, alumna de Year 10, junto con Amparo Gil, Directora, Marta Gil, Subdirectora y Cristina Pérez, Psicopedagoga.
“Beauty is the last, best belief system that keeps male dominance intact”
If you watch TV advertisements from the 60s or 70s, you would be surprised to find out the exaggerated and ‘disgusting’ ways women are portrayed: sometimes as cleaning-crazed beings, and other times only as man’s pets. By that time, women’s role in society was fairly simple: do whatever your husband tells you to do. In beauty advertisements, instead of having a woman present the product like we have today, it was actually the man who presented it, saying a slogan similar to “buy this to make your woman beautiful!” And then his wife would be incredibly pleased because her husband had bought her something to keep her beautiful, as she isn’t able to do this by herself. If she is beautiful, she will be able to keep her husband happy.
Now, you’d say things have changed. Women have the right to vote and we are assured that their role in society is much more broad and open than 40 years ago; almost the same as a man (same job offers, same payments, same treatment, same activities…) and surely women now feel more empowered than ever with this new freedom they have. However, because it’s so new and foreign for them, the world doesn’t know what to do with it. Do we keep treating women as before, or do we treat them as equals to men? “Even better, why don’t we use it for our own profit?” Added the beauty industry.
And that’s how women, who were learning to adapt to their new, dominant roles started becoming more lenient on beauty: they began to seek guidance, some kind of scale that would help them measure how successful they were at directing their new life. Using that insecurity, the beauty industry bombarded these naive women with false connotations between success and beauty.
In the end, they grasped the concept that to be liked and accepted by others as a normal individual of society they had to be pretty- or at least that’s the message they were trying to convey. In reality, the beauty industry was just manipulating their fresh new self-esteem to become slaves to their physical appearance and opinion of others. They thought they were confident and strong, when actually they were becoming fickle and insecure as minutes passed.
It is also to note that while all of this culture revolution was going on with women, men were practically perceived in the media the same way as before: strong, dominant and in control. Only this time the female figure in the background is way more subtle- but it’s still there, silently manipulating our roles in society.
And 30 years later, the snarky pressure this unknown industry was strangely settling on newly free women has developed in so many dimensions that it’s now a massive fog that clouds society, especially us, the new generation. The fog clouds our judgment so much that we don’t even doubt ourselves when we choose to wear makeup or go to the gym. This is because we were born with these ideas already deeply rooted in the way humans think about themselves and others that it’s natural for us to seek perfection in ourselves so that we can be accepted by others.
In that way, I guess you can say both men and women are the same: we are both deceived by the media to believe we should strive to be the best form of ourselves even if it’s not remotely close to the way we are, and if we do so we will feel satisfied and fulfilled with our lives. The difference lies in the methods the industry uses to introduce us to the ridiculous standard of beauty. Women are constantly allured with feminist words about self-righteous conduct that makes them think of themselves as independent, only to be contradicted by severe, specific instructions of what make a true woman. It’s as saying “we all deserve to be strong, free woman. We should be treated the same as men; we don’t even need them to exist! Oh, but you aren’t a true woman if you aren’t skinny, or conventionally pretty, or don’t wear makeup…” while men are being constantly told that they have be a masculine, dominant figure that everyone feels intimidated by, and that if you aren’t, you aren’t a real man- even if the pressure of the media on them isn’t that strong. Either way, the different insecurities both genders feel form a barrier between them that will intersect with the path to equality we desperately need and want in our society.
In my opinion, the only way to overcome the strict standard of beauty and manage to see through this foggy society is by self-perception. If you are able to create a realistic image of yourself that only satisfies your own desires and expectations- not affected by what others think- only then you will eventually learn to accept yourself and feel confident in your own skin. In other words: accept that you are different and that all of these insecurities and doubts you have of yourself are only encrypted messages society puts in your mind. You have to learn to think for yourself, to be analytical and critical of the media around you and how they wrongfully influence you, and most important of all, learn to overcome it. Rely on those who cherish you just the way you are, because those are able to see you through the foggy beauty for what you’re really worth, and of course, do the same for the people you care for.
Lucía, Year 10D