Long since women first walked out of the cave, took a good look around and said "hey, this isn't so bad", they have found themselves victims of a harsh scrutinisation that dates back to a time before time even existed, and will last long into a future that neither you, nor I will live to see.
The shaming of women's bodies has been revolutionising for decades. As a woman myself, I am more than aware of the strict beauty standards that are enforced by our media system that is endlessly riding a helter-skelter, wound tightly around the little finger of a patriarchally influenced, capitalist paradigm. As women, we are the target audience for a "beauty" that is sold in bottles with screw-on caps, and we continue to market them to eachother via various social media platforms, plastered on our faces along with more filters than a premium vodka. We live in a culture that, with the aid of a strategically regulated mainstream media system, provides us with an unattainable standard of beauty; a tactic designed to poison our subconscious with the idea that our flaws make us unfeminine, or ugly. Once we have been punched to the ground with the false realisation that we must regulate and correct ourselves accordingly, we are then swept away with the marketing of all the things we need to "improve" our flaws. And, rather shamefully, we eat from this trough of shit like before, we had been starving.
Earlier this month, TOWIE "celebrity" Gemma Collins was pictured at the foot of her new plus-sized boutique holding up a sign that read:
At first, I postulated as to whether or not this was some form of publicity stunt. I'm not foolish enough to enchant the notion that these "reality television" stars aren't goaded by producers to act in a certain way, in order to peddle a decent amount of exposure for themselves or their respective roles, so at first I thought it was an enragement tactic, specifically designed to piss people off.
What I read next, however, I found even more shocking. Beneath the photograph of Gemma, someone had left this comment:
So let me get this straight. I can't be too thin, because that doesn't meet the basic requirements of being a "real woman", but similarly, I can't be too big, because otherwise I'll be compared to a gargantuan sea mammal that has the life-span of nearly a century? God help me if I have to exist as long as that, and suffer through this utterly impregnable bullshit.
I'm not going to be as naive as to suggest that living as a woman in the 21st century is unlike being in a social war zone, but why do we need to constantly perpetuate the use of women's bodies as battlefields? As the two ideals met at loggerheads, I wondered: what the hell is wrong with us? We exist in a societal structure that postulates that a woman's worth is to be measured by her aesthetics. Our ideas on how to compliment a woman range from "you're quite good-looking, for a fat girl", to "you're a really attractive, unlike those desperate try-hards". And what's worse than this, is that we accept these comments as positive.
It's almost as if the aforementioned standard of beauty has been placed precariously at the very peak of a totem-pole of oppression, and we have been coerced into believing that the only way we can reach that peak, is by stepping on our fellow women in the process. Some of us can't even bring ourselves to compliment another woman without having to forcefully stifle our bitter envy towards them. What has happened to us? Have we finally begun to be infected by the venom of a man's ego, and are we letting it poison our perceptions?
Picture this. A pack of dogs roaming around an enclosed pen. Imagine a keeper who stands above the enclosure, routinely throwing dry bones and scraps onto the dusty ground. He watches on, laughing to himself, as the dogs fight almost rabidly amongst themselves for even a lick at one of those bones.
What if I told you that the keeper of the pen represented the patriarchal doctrine that modern society enforces, and the dogs were those women who allow themselves to be ruled by it? Feminism has come on leaps and bounds since the turn of the 20th century, and the women's movement has progressed in ways its founding sisters could have scarcely imagined when they begun taking their first steps. So why have we devolved into fighting over the scraps that are thrown to us by the patriarchy, instead of standing together in strength and in solidarity with one another? I understand that the metaphor isn't particularly pretty, but neither are the ways in which we often treat eachother, and it would not be an over-statement to suggest that the ways in which we battle eachother over the being of our own bodies is a result of an internalised, actualised hatred that we have been socialised to have for our own kind.
Somewhere between the war over thigh gaps, collar bones, love handles and stretch marks, we've forgotten the prerequisites of modern life: the ability to accept ourselves, in all our forms, as humans.