Okay, I don’t even like that song. But I love that specific lyric.
Working in a retail store where my staff is exclusively women really brings my understandings of the struggles women go through in our society today to a whole new level.
Being a women’s and gender studies major, I spent 4 years (okay, 5 years – I was one of those people whose first year was dedicated to partying and therefore failing most classes) studying the intersecting forms of oppression, the heteronormative behaviours we are all trained to follow from a young age, and of course, the patriarchal definition of beauty. These are not new topics of discussion or exploration for me.
But when I am working with my staff of 20 (or so… it’s easy to lose track with our big and ever changing staff) women 40 hours a week, there are so many similar instances that arise.
So many moments where it is obvious that the need to fit our society’s definition of beauty is so engrained in their minds that it almost becomes an obsession.
Working out to be fit is one thing, but forcing yourself to work out because you feel guilty for having a taste of something dessert like is an entirely different ball game.
I would never give specific instances as I keep these moments private – what my staff trust me with will forever be kept in the vault. But what I hear and what I witness is very discouraging.
In this day and age, I would hope that women were confident and felt powerful enough to say “fuck you” to anyone who didn’t agree that they were in fact beautiful (whether they fit society’s definition or not). It’s 2013, people.
Screw what anyone else thinks. If you are happy with who you are as a person, and you are kind and caring… you are beautiful. Beauty has nothing to do with physical aspects.