In response to last week’s post, Suzanne Sheffield commented, “Your story reiterates what I often think - as parents we should listen to that quiet but persistent inner voice that tells us that something is wrong and we SHOULD be worried.”
I kept thinking about this comment as I read Aeron Haynie’s post “On Beauty.” Haynie expresses reasonable concern about her daughter’s experimenting with makeup and “sexy” poses, wishing to emulate the female role models of “desirability” that are ubiquitous in our culture, and points out, “… already she equates being a woman with being a beautiful object.”
I think the two issues are related. When we learn to think of ourselves as objects, rather than subjects — to feel that our worth is measured, in large part, by the degree of pleasure, pride or satisfaction we give others, then our tendency is to quell or ignore our independent judgment and feelings.
No matter how strong and supportive their mothers are, most little girls are exposed to TV shows, commercials, and advertisements that communicate the message that women are not all right in our natural state. We’re encouraged to change the color of our hair, cheeks, eyelids, eyebrows and lashes. We’re supposed to get rid of our natural body hair, paint our nails, and wear clothing and shoes that accentuate our sexuality, no matter how uncomfortable or impractical these may be. All of this is in the service of pleasing others.
If we’re not acceptable with gray hair, pale lips, bushy brows and skin-colored nails — if we have to examine every facet of our physical selves and change whatever doesn’t conform to popular expectations — how can we hold on to the feeling that we’re correct inside?