What is beautiful?

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Just when the television remains flooded with commercials suggesting me the most happening and effective products out there in the market to make me look fabulous, give me an excellent, marks free skin, I seem to find these harmless advertisements very offending. Though it does not come directly in these TV ads, but the implication is clear, they point out my ugliness to me. They try hard to bring down my self-confidence so that I am reduced to the level of believing that I do need these beauty products to fit in the society and to do well in life overall. While these television ads are doing their jobs fabulously and manage to seduce a large number of women into buying their products, there is something principally wrong here. In my article I am going to talk about how these TV commercials are a threat to the sovereignty of today’s women and are actually acting as agents of patriarchy by reinforcing its ideas in the mindset of people and the society.


I was really taken off guard to see this TV commercial of a fairness cream where this girl was refused a job because of her dark skin and the same job was respectfully given to her when she started using this fairness cream and became fair. Being a dark skinned myself I was not only surprised but deeply hurt by watching such a commercial. In a country like India where a majority of the population is dark skinned it is almost an infringement on the rights of millions of people. It is a blatant insult of people and a propaganda to instill racist feelings amongst them. Another felling of difference being given fuel. It is strange why the people and the government fails to notice such verbal public harassments and take a strong action against them. Another major issue that this particular commercial raises is the objectification of women. At the time when a lot of us tend to oppose the patriarchal setup and are raising voice against violence against women, how can we accept such commercials to freely run? The society has forever believed that women are objects of carnal pleasures or just eye candies to feast their gaze on. Surprisingly, in the 21st century, when women have achieved everything possible on the face of earth, the society still nurtures the idea that they have to be beautiful to be accepted in the society. They have to appeal to the male gaze to be respected. How ironical! As on one hand, she is insulted by being shown the way to these beauty enhancing products and on the other hand she is told that she will be respected only when she uses them. Advertisements like these are forcing women themselves to believe that beauty and appeal are way above qualification and achievements, thus sending out a wrong message to society at large. Believing things like long and beautiful hair is the key to success can cause great harm to the society and its development. This is primarily because we want a work force that is self-reliant and self-confident and women are now a very important part of this work force. The last thing we want are insecure, useless young women to be a liability on our country.


However, having said all that a very pertinent question still remains. Knowing very well, that these so called beauty products do us no good and understanding that it is another way of the society to tell women that they are worth no more than objects, why is it that women still go ahead and use these products? Why would a woman want to herself submit to the ways of the society that has always tried to demean and bring her down? The answer my friends lies in our history. As far as history goes, women have always been taught to be beautiful and appealing. This term is often referred to as social conditioning. The society through all these years has conditioned the women into thinking that this is how she is perceived and judged in the society and thus beauty is what she really has to excel in. Therefore, even when a women consents to use these products herself, we have to understand that this consent is actually a result of social conditioning and hence is a manufactured consent. A free will that isn’t really free. Now, readers, I perhaps need not say that manufactured consent is extremely wrong, because it is equal to no consent at all. It is a problem because it can often land individuals in situations where they are willing to harm themselves just for the satisfaction of the society. In a free society of 21st century where all individuals are apparently free, it is pathetic that women still live mentally bound to old ideas.


So ladies, start believing that you are perfect the way you are. You are worth a lot even with your minor imperfections of being fat, short, dark. You need to yourself break free of these stereotypes of a perfect women that the society so brutally imposes on us and encourage others to do the same. You need not be appealing to anyone. And yes! Most importantly, you need to understand that jobs are not given on the basis of your fairness but your qualifications!


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