“Taught from their infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft,
Looks, have always topped the criteria, the basis of most judgments, from time immemorial. Our ancestors, have passed the genes down to us, none at fault. Yet, the blame or shame is assigned to an individual. On the contrary, beauty is derived from generations. This itself, is the biggest stereotype among all. Added to that is the clothes a woman adorns. Whether traditional or modern, she is always under scrutiny and speculated upon. Judgments are freely passed, totally apathetic, about her feelings. Traditional clothes do not signify a woman to be docile and worthless, while modern clothes do not speak for her worthiness or her being labelled “fast”, in other words, a woman of low repute.
A child’s upbringing, largely depends on how it’s parents have been raised. The child is like clay, ready to be moulded as per the mould. More so, for the girl child. From very early on, looks are highlighted, as the sole criteria, for acceptance and judgments. I remember, how my conservative mother, raised me during my early schooling years. Oiled hair neatly braided, ribbons, face layered with two coats of powder, skirt reaching the ankles! This had put me in the spotlight, for the wrong reasons, as perceived, by me, then. The other students, made fun of my appearance. They would pity me, throw sorry glances, at me and the like. Needless to say, my self esteem, was at an all time low. I had begun to think, that I was indeed a misfit. A topper, till 5th grade, the “teenage” had got a jolt, due to which the grades had begun to drop. The mind was busy, seeking acceptance, from peers, family and all, near and dear.
This phase continued, till my 10th grade, after which, all hell broke loose. I revolted against my mother, and soon, my new avatar was born. Gone was the oily hair, two coats of pancake (read powder), long skirts. I had cut my hair and along with it all notions and negative perceptions. Here, it was more than just my appearance. Rather, it was my mothers perception, about how, girls should appear, their clothes, looks and her views on stereotypes. Very soon I was back, where I had always reigned. Yes, I had topped all the schools (KV) in my city, in the 12th grade. To a certain extent, the feel good factor does depend on your comfort level with yourself, the way you are. This is more about, how you feel about your appearance and the way you carry yourself. My self esteem, confidence and worth, were back in my life. I felt lighter and happier.
Comparisons, between friends, cousins and siblings were normal those days. My mother would compare me with my cousin. While this did not affect my goal, it sure did create a distance between my mother and myself. This forced me, to think about people and the perceptions they held. I began to find out, about what went into the making of this attitude. Soon, I graduated in Psychology, at college. I did my graduation in a women’s college. Due, to the transferable job of my father (an Army officer), I joined the college hostel. The three years, that I spent there, was like a course in human relations, by itself. One of my friends, who was plump, went on a crash diet, to knock off, all the flab and weight. This boosted her self confidence or so, she said. This is the age, where the opposite sex, seeks an entry in our lives. Was this the criteria then, looks? What about talent, knowledge, skills and the like? Did they expect beauty with brains? What was beauty? From the heart or the skin?
Judgments, based on clothes and external appearances are very often, misleading. This can be very disturbing too, if women are not equipped with coping skills. Many, have had to sacrifice their choice, due to external pressures. Most often, judgments begin at home, with the near and dear criticizing your choice of clothes, make up and the like. If a woman wears pants, she is considered to be a tomboy, dominating and low on certain home management skills. A woman who wears traditional clothes is considered to be docile, with limited skills and knowledge. A working woman is said to score over the housewife. Yet, they both are judged on different parameters, by people.
Let’s take a look at some of the startling figures, that the Nihar Naturals #IAmCapable survey conducted by Nielsen India reveals:
69% of men agree that their judgment of women is based on their looks.
# Looks do matter. Frankly speaking, looks decide the fate of a relationship, waiting on wings, ready to fly. Sadly, many, fail to take off, due to such perceptions. It is important for women, to understand that, a man who wants a relationship based on mere looks, is sure to fail them sooner or later. Looks are not permanent.
64% of women agree that the judgments passed on them have affected their ability to reach their true potential.
# Judgments, have the ability to affect one’s own perception about themselves. In such cases, women fail to reach their potential, due to misguided notions. A case of forced failure. Women, need to understand that their self worth is not based on external judgments. The colour of their skin, height, weight and eyes, may keep the man in question, engrossed for the time, only till this remains. After which, he is bound to seek freedom, if this has been, his only criteria. Why then, would they want, to hand over their life’s baton, to him? In the long run, it’s success which speaks, your worth depends on your skills, talent and the ability to overlook such judgments.
70% of women agree that majority of judgments on women are from family members or friends rather than strangers.
# All hurts and disappointments, in the form of judgments, arise in the family, from the family, mostly. I remember, when a friend had just given birth, one of her family members had immediately remarked upon setting eyes on the newborn, that he looked like the colour of pepsi, meaning dark! This was indeed very nasty and till date, though she has forgiven him, the relationship is strained. Women, should learn coping skills, when it comes to judgments. Very often, judgments take the form of criticism and vice versa. The simple rule is to ignore all such comments and move on. Positive Affirmations, are a great tool, to release baggage.
72% of women agree that working women face more judgments on their looks or their clothes than housewives.
# Sad, but true. If a working woman goes out alone, dressed to the hilt, she is assumed to be doing something wrong. Especially, if it’s a holiday, the eyebrows raise, higher. On the contrary, if a housewife goes out alone, looking resplendent, her husband is said to be lucky, on having such a beautiful wife.
Ladies, ignore, when you don’t like what you hear, and revel, when you hear, what you like.
Here is a positive affirmation, that has always worked wonders for me-
“ I release this incident with love
It is over and done
I look with expectation to my next moment, which is fresh and new
Only good experiences lie before me
I am greeted with love, wherever I go
I love life and life loves me
ALL IS WELL
SO AM I “
Women, whose self worth is defined by judgments, need to work on their beliefs. Seriously! I know a girl, who married, the first guy, who proposed to her, after a series of failed, arranged marriage “Meetings or Views”, as they call it. After each proposal got rejected, her self esteem plummeted further. Why can’t girls believe, that, a proposal would have not gone through, as it was not meant to be? I know, it is easier said than done, but one has to make a start somewhere.
A woman is judged by both man and other women. Strange, but true. Today, my appearance is a mix between modern and traditional. Which, is again a perception. Have the judgments stopped? No way, they have become more interesting. In fact, I am amused by them, as they sure keep me entertained 😀
If parents, instill a sense of self worth in girls, accepting themselves, as they are, right from childhood, they would then be ready, in the real sense, to face the world. Confident, hardworking and strong, that’s what describes the “Woman”, Ready to Declare “I AM CAPABLE…!”
Judgments are perceptions, based on incidents. Looks and appearances change over time and with age. What cannot be changed, is the time lost, a more fulfilling life and maybe the void. So, what’s your take on this?
Woman, your beauty lies in your soul
Confident , compassionate, caring, whole
You are all this and much more
Be proud of your multitasking, role
Image Credits – emarketingblog.nl, whatculture.com