The days I babysit my eighteen-month-old granddaughter. I love to be able to dress her for the day. She has so many cute little outfits, and I love her reaction when I dress her in something she loves. As she smiles I tell her how pretty she looks. In an almost too-hard to understand little voice she copies me. Today as I was dressing her it dawned on me that what I was doing was teaching her to judge herself based on her appearance. I was horrified.
Although she is absolutely beautiful, her beauty is not something I want her to focus on about herself. She is also very intelligent, caring, and affectionate, and already has an amazing sense of humor at her young age. She is a force to be reckoned with showing leadership qualities. There are so many wonderful things about her and I don’t want her defining herself only by the way she looks.
Let’s be honest, as women, we all know that our physical appearance is important to us and each of us has something we don’t like about ourselves. We spend time and energy picking out the right clothes, doing our makeup just right, and most of all, making sure our bodies look picture perfect. Yet somehow, we never feel like we’re enough.
When did we start judging ourselves based on our appearance? How did we become a society who based our opinions of women solely on their physical appearance? Everywhere we look, there are images of women portrayed on magazine covers, billboards, and television. On each of these are perfect airbrushed images that no one could ever attain. Photoshop is a wonderful tool, but it’s one that adds to the objectification of women.
Not only do we find ourselves in a losing battle as women, it affects our self-esteem. I am the first to admit that when I look in the mirror, there is very little in the reflection that I like. I hear myself pointing out my negative physical traits. It actually feels awkward for me to talk about the positive attributes of my personality. It is almost like it doesn’t matter. I have seen it with my beautiful daughters, and any woman who has gone into a public bathroom has witnessed a woman touching up her makeup or checking her body out in the mirror. We are even all guilty of comparing ourselves to, and judging other women.
It is not just women judging women. The objectification of women by men is ever present in our daily lives. Just look at what is a hot topic in the media lately. Women are coming forward and finally telling stories of abuse and harassment. This shows, without a doubt, that women are seen for their physical appearance.
We are never enough, whether it be our weight or height, the size of our hips or thighs, or our breasts are too small or too big. We see each and every imperfection because we are taught at a young age that these are the things that matter through the media.
This is also teaching boys at a young age that women are only to be seen for their physical appearance and the men they grow into put value on women based on it. This type of objectification causes the world to sexualize women and makes it seem as though we are only good based on these assumptions.
“Women are no longer allowed to be themselves, and be their own woman, but mold themselves to fit this blurred image of how a woman should only represent themselves, and that is sexually.” As startling as this is, it is true.
No matter how offended or against this we are, we are all a part of it continuing to plague society. Whether we buy the clothes and makeup to enhance our appearance, or watch the movies and read the magazines filled with images that objectify women, we are keeping it going.
We as a society need to take a stand. Not just women, but men as well. I want my children and grandchildren to grow up in a world where it is safe for them to be themselves. I want my daughters and granddaughters to see themselves for the qualities they possess, and I want my son and grandson to see women the same way. It is our responsibility to teach them. If we don’t, we are failing them and a future generation that is bound to make the same mistakes as we have.