Beaten to submission: feminism vs feminine


Tucked away in a corner almost unseen, is a Facebook discussion on my newsfeed about “plus-sized” women and what the world thinks women should look like. I never see discussions like this on my feed much, they are probably pushed out by the many tips on weight loss, the abs challenges and the best ways to tone the buttocks.

People share a lot of content about getting thin, I guess I understand the world is facing a health crisis around weight. Yet people don’t talk about getting healthy they talk about getting thin. Women are plagued with is, when did women inherit the monopoly on having to be the thin ones? How come we have accepted and allowed society to tell women that they must look a certain way?

Women are airbrushed within an inch of their lives because it will sell more magazines and somehow these women are okay with it. They are okay with being abused in such a way, they are okay with such blatant disrespect because society has beaten them to submission.

A year ago I was in Seoul, South Korea, and I was lucky enough to meet one of the most remarkable young women I have ever met. She was beautiful, and it could not be denied or avoided. She had made herself so. One evening while we sat in the conference press room I asked why she had so many bags with her. Her response, her makeup and other outfits in case her boss didn’t like what she had on. For her it was key to look just like the women in the magazines, it was important to her that the men saw her as beautiful and delicate. Because only then will she ever be able to get married and be protected by one.

Jax (as we will call her) woke up every day at 4am in other put on her mask of perfection. She went to sleep at 1am because her boss who is a man prefers her to work late. She was okay with because as a woman it is expected. She barely ate for fear of weighing more than a feather.

In my travels in the last few years I have started noticing these patterns, where society has beaten women into submission, a world were rebellion is too much work so we rather get on with the programme designed by an ideology that isn’t based on reality. I was told I was fat when I was 18 years old, I saw a photograph from my 18th birthday a few days ago and the girl in the photographs could stand to eat a sandwich or a piece of cake.

This is our world. A place where fragile egos are put to a test they are doomed to fail. A place where confidence is built with physical approval rather than encouragement. A place where aspirations depend on what you’ve been watching on TV rather the role models your reality provides. We live in a society of child parents and child breadwinners and children masquerading as grown up and grown ups let their inner child loose everyday.

Women look at magazines and buy clothing a size too small only to do the jiggle dance and wrangle their hips into submission. The tighter the jeans the better, once you zip up that dress breathing is a luxury. So day by day meals are skipped and stomachs are held firmly in because society demands it and we are its bitch.

The issue of weight and obesity is an uncomfortable and difficult one for those involved. For the rest of society it seems to be a sport and a way to inflict cruelty. Soon we will find ourselves wallowing in the evil that skulks in adolescence, where we too begin to disregard young boys and girls for their weight because in our perfect ivory towers we can see it is their fault. We don’t ask about the boy whose mother suffers from addiction and he now must take care of three younger siblings. We forget to sympathise with the girl whose father killed himself in her presence. No, everyone with a real weight issue must have chosen without emotional scar because society tells us so.

We judge women for not being feminine enough and then chastised for working the sexy because it is not very feminist of them. Making them mutually exclusively because our society asks us to, so we cave. How can one person handle it all? You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. It shouldn’t be okay to make people feel less than they are, yet everyday young girls look at magazines and wonder what they are doing wrong.

I don’t want to be part of a society that gradually manipulates and coaxes me into accepting the construct of what I should be or what I should look like. I refuse to be the product of a false identity and I refuse to raise a daughter who will suffer for loving cake.