Officially, you are in the eye of the beholder and as such, by definition, subjective and multi-faceted. But more and more it seems the beholder is the youth-obsessed, single-minded, chauvinistic society that we live in today and frankly, I’m fed up with it.
Let me explain. A couple of days ago I read an article on Yahoo. It talked about Phoebe Baker-Hyde, a new mother, who “gave up ‘beauty’ for an entire year”. Apparently, she was really stressed out and fatigued after the birth of her first child, especially since she was living abroad in a foreign country, so she decided to focus on her natural beauty and on taking care of herself from the inside out. In order to do this, she decided to give up make-up and expensive lotions, hair products and shaving. Makes sense, no? In order to get back to basics, you have to, well, make due with the basics. I understood where she was coming from and thought it was refreshing to see someone stand up to the current ‘beauty’ image that we see plastered across billboards and magazines and just go au naturel. How empowering for us women, right?
Wrong. Well, at least if you look at the comment section under the article.
Now, to be fair, every time I look at the Yahoo comment boards, I am shocked at the bigotry and negativity that runs rampant there, so I guess I should have been prepared for this. It seems that the internet trolls and/or ignorant people with an internet connection are just magically drawn to those comment sections, compelled to spread their hate for all of us to see. In the comment sections, there were multiple women who commented, “OMFG how gross, her poor husband, she didn’t shave? How nasty, how unsanitary, he had to look at that? Ew ew ew!”. I paraphrased that, but you get the point.
Apparently, it is a woman’s obligation to shave nowadays. In fact, according to those wonderful commenters, if you do not, you are ugly and gross and neglecting your womanly/wife duties. I mean, I don’t even know where to begin. On the one hand, there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, unsanitary about not shaving your armpits, legs or lady parts. Shaving, especially “down there”, is a beauty fad, a trend that became popular because of models and actresses and porn. It is a trend that the beauty industry perpetuates, because they make a s**t-ton of money off of it. Simple as that. There are hundreds of thousands of women in the world who don’t have access to a razor, and guess what? They’re all doing fine. Of course, if you like to have your hedges trimmed neatly, that’s totally up to you. What bothers me most is this idea that you need to shave in order to be beautiful and pleasing for your husband/boyfriend/men in general.
The thing is this: all women are beautiful. Because beauty is subjective. Because beauty is unique. Because beauty is multi-faceted. No man should determine whether you feel beautiful or not. Your beauty does not depend on whether you have a waxed landscape or natural vegetation, nor on how expensive your primer is. You do not have to be skinny to be beautiful and you do not have to be in a relationship to feel pretty.
We as women should stand up for that, not bash each other over the head in the comments section. And I know, sometimes you have those days where you feel like a useless piece of rotten meat, ugly and weirdly-shaped and off-putting. Worst of all is when someone else has made you feel like that; a few weeks ago, I was at the gym, when suddenly a guy that I went to school with walked by. He bullied me and made fun of me because I was a lanky, nerdy girl that was a good head taller than everyone until the 11th grade. And even though that was almost ten years ago, I saw this guy and I felt so insignificant and insecure and small that I grabbed my things and ran out of there. When I got home, I just curled up in a ball and kind of held myself like a baby, trying to get to a grip on all those awful emotions that were bouncing around inside of me. I thought about switching gyms, or just never going on Thursdays again, until I realized how incredibly stupid that sounded.
You guys, other people (especially men) should not have that kind of power over us. We can’t allow the fear of being different or not fitting in to dictate how we feel about ourselves. We can’t allow the magazines and billboards and TV shows to tell us what beautiful is, because we all, each and every one us, have a distinct beauty that they could never, ever capture. As Maya Angelou so famously said, “Phenomenal woman, that’s me”, and she’s so right. That’s me, and that’s you and that is every woman everywhere, no matter how often she shaves or how many anti-ageing creams she does or doesn’t use.
So I say, love yourself a little.
The next time I go to the gym and I see that guy, I hope he does approach me (he sort of tried to make eye contact last time, but I was frantically staring at a random TV screen in the opposite direction). I hope he tries to make small talk, so that I can tell him how much he made my life hell and how happy I am nonetheless. I may not be beautiful by his standards, or by some modelling agency’s standards, but my gosh, I am beautiful by my standards, and that’s all that really matters (also, my Mom agrees, so that’s a plus).
Please believe me when I say that you are, too.
You can read more from Johanna Schmitz on her blog.
Image via ShutterStock.