In a previous post, I hinted Poonam Pandey as being anti feminist when she announced to bare all if India won the World cup. And then I read an amazing post about Body Image called 'To be or to be looked at' cross posted on the blog Adios Barbie and originally written by Lexie Kite on Beauty Redefined. I began questioning if my obsession with being 'muffin top' and 'love handle' free was anti feminist as well. Turns out I am in the same boat with Poonam Pandey and the only thing anti-feminist about it is the social conditioning behind it. We are both victims of the 'Look at me' syndrome!
The post 'To be or to be looked at' talks about how
"Women are always being looked at. And when we aren’t being looked at, we are too often envisioning ourselves being looked at, as if an outsider’s perspective has become our own... Part of growing up female today means learning to view oneself from another’s gaze."
Through this post Lexie conveys how objectification is an everyday reality for a woman "who has internalized an outsider's perspective of herself" whether she offers to strip in public or whether she checks her reflection, her shadow at every occasion possible, to see if she looks her most attractive self to the world. The author explains how self-objectification is a part of her own life.
Reading this post, came my realisation that my relationship with my body had its ups and downs. In my 'down' periods I often wondered if my thighs were too fat, or if my T-shirt was highlighting my muffin tops ;-), if my dark circles were too dark (it just means I had a late night, its not the end of the world). Things get so mixed up in our heads, we don't know anymore if we are viewing ourselves from our own perspective, or if our perspective is so socially conditioned (conveniently patriarchal and misogynist most of the time) that our own perspective does not even exist anymore.
While body size is one aspect of body image, skin colour is another important one and especially so for the Indian woman. India's obsession has been fair skin since forever (whatever happened to curvy, dusky Indian beauties - the exotic 'BROWN'). Though no generalizations can be truly made about any ethnicity - brown, or white, or yellow, the Indian obsession with being fair still remains an unanswered question in my mind. Read 'Indian obsession with fair skin, a colonial hangover?', excellent post by Indian Blogger My World My Perception on the ever increasing obsession of Indians with skin colour. The proof - the increasing number of fairness creams on the market.
Jodi Bieber - South African photographer (who took the controversial photo of the Afghan woman that made the cover of Time Magazine) did an interesting project Real Beauty which explores the relationship between Beauty, Body Image and ethnicity in South African women.
|Image Courtesy - http://reviews.in.88db.com|
Fighting body image issues can be extremely complex, the blogs Adios Barbie and Beauty Redefined address through their posts the numerous issues surrounding Body Image and the cliché that media throws at us everyday. Beauty Redefined offers a set of strategies to adopt, to move towards a healthier body image. Read also on Beauty Redefined, 'The lies we buy: Defining Health at Women's expense' for a thorough analysis of how body image in the media has evolved over the years from curvy to skinny and the profit driven marketing behind BMI.
I want to invite my precious reader friends to write about your relationship with your body. For inspiration do read 'Our bodies our minds' by Lori of Feministing where she invites readers to talk about 'How you feel about your body, and what factors contribute to these feelings?'