Thin is Beautiful?

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.” 
― (Leo TolstoyThe Kreutzer Sonata)

Few weeks back, while checking my mail, I came across an article.  The reaction to the article is hard to describe as it ranged from confusion, self-doubt, anger and baffled. The article was on how Miss Mexico lost out on Miss World contest because she had gained 6 pounds! What do you do or even think after reading such article? This is the reality of our world – a formidable slap on all the young girls and young women’s faces. If you want to be beautiful and be known as one of the most beautiful woman on earth, you have to be thin, period!

This article forces me to question: what is beauty? How is beauty defined? Most importantly, who defines what beauty is? Obviously, because the deaths of models due to eating disorders and other illnesses is not enough to quench the thirst and quest for beauty.

Question 1. What is Beauty?

Well, here are the options defining beauty:

A) thin preferably size 0 – 2, tall, educated, have all the stats like cool eye colour, great hair, great complexion, confident, – basically is HOT and turns heads around.

B) Healthy, well-balanced, educated, confident, well-groomed, strong features like great hair, fair complexion and others – basically deemed as highly attractive.

C)  Confident,  comfortable in her own skin, enjoys life, healthy and well-balanced and follows dreams passionately – basically someone who aspires to be something in life and enjoys every minute of it.

Various images and perceptions come to mind with the words “beauty”, “beautiful” . The options roughly present what young girls and women are subjected to everyday through various means. This brings us to question 2.

Q2.How is beauty defined?

Internet, print magazines and various outlets continue to bombard us with information that extreme thin or extreme weight loss leads to diseases like anorexia, bulimia and other medical diseases. We are to love ourselves no matter what shape or color we are. We should exercise to maintain a healthier lifestyle, enjoy various activities and pursue interests, don’t pay much attention to what other people think or say, and most importantly, be confident about who we are. True beauty will thus reveal itself.

Really?

Does true beauty really reveal itself?  (makes me wonder how many actually believe this)

The answer is hard because in reality we are run by the standards set by others. But before blaming the whole fashion industry, designers and models (typical road taken by everyone), I blame the society.  Yes, the society is the first one that defines certain standards, especially on women. And worse, women themselves set these standards themselves!!!!!!!!!!!! Ouch!!!!

Such standards travel their way up to different levels and the young generation ultimately bears the fruits.  So, unless we have actresses’  like bodies,unless we are thin as per standardized beauty rules, unless we ‘look’ a certain way,  ‘fit’ in a certain type of dress, we are not ‘beautiful’. We don’t even make it to the ‘attractive’ category – which might mean men will not accept us as suitable partners.

Sadly, this is the harsh truth. In this materialistic world, only and only looks and appearance counts. Nothing else. All our pursuits in education and professional fields has no value. No matter how hard we strive to achieve something better in life, try to break the conventional wisdom that hinder our growth and progress,  seek positive and construction contribution to the society and community, in the end, our own gender and society brings us down. All our lives, we try to live according to the values given to us by our parents, try to meet the standards society imposes on us, work hard in every sphere, ultimately to be ridiculed. Is this what it means to be a girl or a young woman?

Materialistic standards cause immense suffering on various levels. Young girls suffer from low self-esteem and become trapped in a vicious cycle of weight loss and appearance that becomes hard to break.  Having gone through an extensive period of hurt, pain and negativity, I, personally, know how such feelings literally kill one. Despite having  good academic record and strong analytic skills, I suffered from immense negativity about myself.  I was fat, ugly, lacked confidence and everyone made fun of me. To be mocked on weight, unable to fit in those fashionable lower size jeans hurts a girl deeply.  I was trapped in a vicious cycle of negativity which knew no end.

Today, my strong individuality,confidence, solid perceptions, thoughts and character is due to one reason alone: my mother’s strong support and belief in me. Mom’s strong character and hard efforts in ensuring that I turn out to be a well-educated and well-groomed individual certainly paid off. In addition to mom, my father’s and brother’s rock solid support in every dream I had changed me entirely. While pursuing postgraduate studies, before I even knew myself, I had transformed. The beautiful irony is, it just happened and didn’t cater to anyone.

Today, I exercise and maintain a healthier lifestyle for myself because I want to be smart for my well-being, not for any one.

Isn’t doing anything for yourself worth it?

Is it necessary to bow down to the materialistic standards of the society that only lead to harm and in cases, death?!!

How many Isabelle Caro(s) do we need to understand that ‘beauty is not about being thin”?

In the end, I share this one message that I read everyday

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” 
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross