It’s not a new age phenomenon; it has been around for centuries and we have fought the same battles for years now. Objectifying women, and treating them as an accessory instead of thriving human beings; labelling them as hot, curvy, skinny, hood, pretty, cute, ethnic, bad, dime pieces, unicorns, babes, pieces of tail, juicy, fine, sexy, foxes, sultry, voluptuous…and barely, if ever, good ol’ beautiful.
When we were younger, being ‘hot’ was the epitome of social circles and a standard mode of acceptance. What started with kohl-lined eyes soon graduated to glossy lips and highlighted cheekbones. Before we realised, fad diets were a norm and blow dried hair was a prerequisite to any and all social interactions. The beauty of being a wonderful girl was soon lapped down by a bag full of beauty products and an addiction to juicing. Size 6 was the absolute max, and chocolate bars were a no-go zone.
And it is nauseating then to witness how a woman’s worth and acceptance is casually correlated to her appearance. From presentations in universities to interviews with prospective employers, it all becomes a mater of appearance. Substance and personality take a back seat, when they were meant to be the driving force and what was to be judged.
I landed my first publishing job when I was 16, and later my editor told me that I got in for I ‘looked the part’. I had recently returned from a summer camp in Canada, with a taste of freedom and rebellion. I was always interested in fashion, and that helped. In retrospect, I wonder, if I were a simple girl with great ideas and an even stronger writing ability, would I still be where I am today?
I do not denounce looking good. I am all for it. I just do not conform with the standards that the society has set for us women. And the compulsion. For many, I’d be borderline ‘hot’ if I were 30 kilos lighter. And while I’d like to be that weight for the sake of being healthy, I wonder if that would make me a happier, more secure person? I am afraid the answer isn’t reassuring.
I believe it when my mister holds my face in his hands and tells me I am beautiful, when all I am wearing is a simple tee and PJs, and no makeup. I believe it for he had the same tender look in his eyes when I was 20 kilos lighter. Wouldn’t it be so much better if we populate our worlds with people who love and accept us for who we are than how we look? Who don’t drool only when we are dressed for the red carpet but are equally funny eyed when we are about to hit the bed in the most unglamorous attire seen on the face of earth? Who see as beautiful beings with a soul they can connect with, instead of a sexy piece of ass?
I am not stating anything ground breaking or that has not been said about a bazillion times before, but it is good to remind ourselves that we are more than a pretty flesh. We are people with dreams, aspirations, accomplishments and victories. There isn’t much that we can’t achieve, if we set our minds to it. This isn’t a cry sponsored by feminism; I’d still doll up for the dinner tonight with N’s friends and bulk on accessories, but it’d be for my sake. I enjoy it and I will do it. The idea is not to impress (for they have seen me in deplorable conditions already), or dominate. It is to be happy in my own skin, and if I need to paint it a little pink or purple sometimes to stir things up, what’s wrong with that?
What I am trying to say, not so clearly, is that being hot is not an accomplishment. And it doesn’t help in becoming a stronger or more secure person. When you are with the right person, they’ll make you feel like you are the most gorgeous breathing being in the entire world, and the wrong person will make Miss Universe feel unsure about her bum. Don’t let industry standards or irrelevant people’s opinions dictate your life or how you should be; you need to do that yourself, to be happy. Let’s drive back to good old beauty, where mind and body share equal screen time and one doesn’t dominate the other. Work to be beautiful, substantial, eloquent, strong, opinionated, innocent, crazy and wonderful creatures we were always destined to be.
And in case my idea of why being beautiful is what you need to aim for instead of hot, here’s some help from Lauren Martin to help you understand how being beautiful is different from being hot:
- Hot is admired from afar; beauty is to be held.
- Hot is perception; beauty is appreciation.
- Hot is smokey-eyed; beautiful is bare-faced.
- Hot is an appearance; beautiful is more than skin deep.
- Hot is the way she moans; beautiful is the way she speaks.
- Hot is a strong appeal; beautiful is strong mind.
- Hot is youthful; beautiful is ageless.
- Hot is conventional; beauty is unique.
- Hot is a one-night stand; beautiful is sleepless nights.
- Hot is a state of being; beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
- Hot is devious; beautiful is innocent.
- Hot is bending her over; beautiful is baking her blueberry pancakes.
- Hot is sultry; beautiful is wholesome.
- Hot is her curves; beauty is her nerves.
- Hot is a text message; beautiful is a love letter.
- Hot is a facade; beautiful is a woman.