Is Beauty the Real Oppressor?
Beauty has become a tyrant, oppressing women and girls from infancy to old age.
Beauty dictates how we feel about ourselves and how others think of us.
Beauty sits upon the blood of the Indigenous, black, brown, and other colonized bodies across the earth.
She is well equipped with weapons: eurocentrism, capitalism, and colonialism.
Beauty, unlike other villains, does not lurk in the dark or hide her proper form. She is pervasive and creeps into the minds of women and girls from their first breath to their last gasp. The nurse tells my mother, after giving birth, “your daughter is beautiful. She’s going to be a real looker.” Human life is born, and during my first hour, I’m already being measured by what sits on top of my skeleton and how close I look to the colonizer’s beauty standard.
IS THIS BODY TRULY MINE?
I look at my body with disillusionment, wondering if the skin that covers my bones and internal organs isn’t perfect. It isn’t bright enough, isn’t clear enough, isn’t challenging enough, isn’t BEAUTIFUL enough. At this moment, I feel the all-too-familiar presence of the oppressor of women and girls, the Beauty Standard. As I stare into her bright, shiny eyes, I see the suffering of millions of girls from the time of Lilith to the present day. She is suffocating, and she manifests her degrading thoughts about my appearances into my brain again, knowing I was due for another dose of insecurity. Beauty begins to wrap her arms around like mothers often do, but she begins to tighten her grip around my form with unspeakable strength. She has a slender and petite form, which is contradictory to her immense power.
My heartbeat grows louder and louder, like the sound of soldiers marching towards the battle, and I can taste the bitterness of her presence. I struggle, kick and exhaust my imperfect body against her sheer force, and I am forced into submission. Little by little, my big, brown eyes melt into puddles of tar. My nose crumbles into a slender figure. My tan skin starts to feel dirty, needing to be scrubbed and torn until I feel clean again, and my thick, black curly hair is slowly destroyed from the bleach that travels from my scalp to the ends of my once healthy hair meeting my exposed skin. The smell of bleach and burning skin is potent, filling me up with regret and fear. I feel something sharp and excellent move across my stomach, wincing at its unfamiliar touch. Beauty violently slashes my stomach apart, and my blood escapes my body as I frantically try to put myself back together. Beauty looks down upon my weak form, cringing at my interiority to her supreme excellence. She looks at me with disgust and pity as she insists that I look better this way because I have now been blessed with more of her ethereal features.
After my indoctrination by Beauty, people won’t stop staring at my new body and face, mesmerized by how I tick off all the boxes for the beauty standard. They relentlessly comment on the brightness, shininess, and Beauty of my appearance. They praise the thinness of my waist. I feel my body explode with pure confusion. Can’t they see I’ve been mutilated? Can’t they see that I’ve been ripped apart by omnipotent rules that terrorize women and girls? But I wasn’t visited by an unearthly creature. I underwent plastic surgery for the perfect waist, butt, boobs, nose, and stomach. I bleached the unique hair and skin that had been passed down by generations of my descendants. I put contacts over the eyes my mother had given me.
My body became a tool to maintain the patriarchy’s beauty standard, and the others praised how my body was “hot.” Truthfully, it would not have mattered if all bodies are beautiful if I was more optimistic about my body because my body is the least exciting thing about me.