What is beauty? Is beauty defined by a mainstream magazine cover where the models are airbrushed, who eat diets of 800 calories a day, wear toxic makeup and use toxic products to wash and style their hair? To some this is beauty. To me this is a definition of self hate, internalized oppression and empowerment that only reigns on the surface.
In my life I have defined beauty as natural, honoring Mother Earth, honoring the Native tradition of beauty and not falling into the trap of consumerism. The trick of mainstream beauty is consumerism, not honoring Mother Earth and economic poverty for women. This is all related and it distracts women from cultivating inner beauty and true empowerment. First, consumerism is a trap that keeps you only coming back for more. Its how capitalism thrives. Yet, it is the intention of these big corporations to lure you in to their products and be distracted from your authentic self. Secondly, products that help us look beautiful are most often toxic. Despite the whole "green" movement these products are still filled with many toxins. Beauty at what cost? Is it a cost of the Planet? Is it a cost of the Earth until we have continuously raped her resources therefore raping ourselves? It is cyclical as all is related. Thirdly, these beauty products are targeted at women to keep them buying and feeling that they need to have this makeup or other beauty products to feel complete. Poverty is feminized and one aspect of this is beauty products. If 70% of the world's poor are women then why are companies directing beauty products towards women? Mainstream beauty maintains homogeneity among women. If a women has outer beauty whether in the home or work world she can keep her head above water. While her breasts are lumped and pushed up into toxic and padded bras as she cooks, cleans, types, washes, files, sorts and delivers to the male she can survive. For he is surrounded by the outer beauty of a women to please him and to be praised by him. Maybe she will be promoted at her job because of her outer beauty but not inner beauty. This is why these beauty products thrive. Once the coating of makeup is applied she can be safe in a world that discriminates, exploits and oppresses against her at all costs. It is a well designed system of distraction and ultimately submission into gender norms for sake of survival. While some women rise above others buy into this idea of beauty to please others, oppress themselves, deeply internalize oppression, are sold into the idea of beauty and its viscous cycle. This ideal will continued to be delivered to you in shiny, stinky magazines and billboards even in an economic depression. Unless you live in the middle of the forest its hard to not see whats going.
The definition of beauty can be dismantled. There are more body positive websites out there. There are sites about size acceptance. There are cool online stores that promote a positive self image. We can cultivate inner beauty within ourselves. We can understand and learn more about the cyclical connections of the Earth to our hearts, spirits and back again. We can reject consuming beauty products sake of looking good for a night or to impress others. Most of all we can shine our light out from our heart and souls to stand strong in who we really are.
What are your stories on this topic?
What are your experiences with beauty standards with your friends, family and community?
Do you dismantle standards of beauty in your everyday life or do you adhere to them?
If you choose to wear makeup or purchase other beauty products do you feel empowered? Are you doing this for yourself or is it for your partner/companion and/or job?
More information and resources:
Beauty at Any Cost - A YWCA USA report on the consequences of
America’s beauty obsession on women and girls.
A body lovin' site - Adios Barbie.
Any Body - A site that challenges the limited representation of females in contemporary society.