by Asha Wafer

“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business” said Dr. Gail Dines, an English–American feminist anti-pornography activist. These words are absolutely accurate. Imagine if we all decided we were fine with our image and our bodies and accepted our flaws instead of wanted to “correct” or “hide” them.

 I recently moved to Connecticut from Los Angeles for college and I have noticed a HUGE difference on the pressure women feel to be a certain shape or size and be a certain image. LA is as image obsessed as people say it is, let me tell you. Yes, it has its perks, it’s nice to live in the sunny California weather and see a Hollywood star or two. However growing up there, it’s easy to find yourself as image obsessed as everyone else.

 When I started middle school it started to happen. My parents always put me in elite private schools to get the best education. I was always the black girl on financial aid who didn’t have the newest shoes, or have the most modern house, or live in Santa Monica or Malibu. I lived an upper middle class neighborhood that still didn’t measure up to their big mansions and famous parents. In high school I really started to notice the difference. These girls were flawless. I went to a Christian school so we wore uniforms. Their uniforms were perfectly pressed, their hair was straight, shiny and voluminous, their nails prim and polished and their skin and makeup were flawless. Soon I started wearing a full face of makeup every day to school, having my hair done monthly and my nails done twice a month just to keep up.

 Don’t get me wrong I liked doing this, I still to this day enjoy keeping myself pampered and well-kept. However, I didn’t really realize until recently how big of the culture it is. It’s not that it’s not okay to be well-kept and pampered, but it’s also okay not to be.

Women do these things to alter themselves for many different reasons either for themselves, for men, but mostly we do it out of competition with other women. We are always comparing ourselves to each other and seeing how we measure up. I always think of the scene in Mean Girls when I think of self- image. These girls all stand in the mirror and point out their flaws and when Lindsey Lohan’s character doesn’t contribute to their self-critique they all stare at her until she feels pressured to point out one of her own flaws as well. And, even then, saying that she had “bad breath” showed that she did not understand the unwritten rules about being self-critical.

I think it’s important to realize that women should not be expected to attain a certain unachievable standard of beauty that we are all pressured to have. If we all woke up and decided that the beauty that God gave us was enough then so many industries and competition between women would halt. When did our God-given beauty stop being enough?

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