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Vivek Adatia
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‘Beauty standards’ – the very fact that there arose a need to coin this term, proves that our society is quite far from being an ideal one. When we attach the word ‘standard’ to anything, it means that we intend to make a comparison. So, the coinage of the term ‘beauty standards’ also means that our society intends to compare or rather categorize people according to their physical appearances. What’s even worse is that our society tends to go so far as to ridicule that person who doesn’t meet the expected beauty standards; and women are obviously the more targeted gender of such disposition of the society.
Most aspects of our physical appearances are purely a privilege. Women or any person for that matter, don’t have much control over how they look. Fair or dark, short or tall, with or without freckles; did any one of us got to choose how we look? Obviously, some of the aspects are in our control, up to some extent atleast, but some either fall short of resources, while others fall short of will. Either way, no one deserves to be ridiculed, humiliated and looked down upon, just because they look different from how society expects them to look.
Women, who are considered to be the ‘fairer sex’, are evidently treated unfairly. The archaic meaning of the word ‘fair’ was simply ‘beautiful’, irrespective of the woman’s complexion; but as the times changed, the meaning of this word then referred to a woman or a person with a lighter complexion, who is apparently considered to be more attractive, even till date. This proves that the perception and the mentality of the society has only deteriorated with time. The fact that certain professions like acting, air hosting, modeling, etc. prefers women to be slender, tall and of lighter complexion, further shows that how woman are scrutinized on the basis of their looks.
The existence of beauty standards in our society have also resulted in more frequent instances of objectification of women. Women, like many other “things”, seem to be coming with a shelf life, after which their worth plummets dramatically. Their beauty seem to be the measure of their worth in quite a few instances, rendering their all other more meaningful qualities and virtues worthless. And apparently this is not at all limited to their professional lives, their personal lives seem to be taking even more severe hit. Rejections in marriage, incessant taunting from relatives and neighbours, humiliation by peers, etc. all of such things take a hefty toll on their mental health and self-esteem. Countless women suffer from depression and stress related issues because they don’t look measure up sufficiently to the beauty standards as set by the people around them. It’s hard to imagine the trauma of such women.
It is said that “beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”, and if this is true, the vision and perception of our society today is deprived of any beauty whatsoever. There are slim chances of such a society to prosper which cannot identify, appreciate and respect the true worth of its women and continue scale them according to some preconceived notion of being appealing and beautiful externally. Still there seem to be a little ray of hope, as we can see miniature revolutions, where people are willing to look at women with a deeper, more meaningful perception. If such a temperament is encouraged sufficiently, the lives of women in our society might get a little bit easier and that’s a considerable progress in the right direction.