Wednesday, July 28, 2021
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Why does society value beauty over brains?

It is 2019 but women are still judged by their looks, body shamming to commenting on dark complexion has become routine. There are many examples showing that people find it difficult to judge the performance of women, without being distracted by their appearance. From personal secretary to Back office manager, from reporter to anchor and on personal levels to friends level we want smart and good-looking people around. Look is the first impression and that is the way we have been conditioned and on the other hand in spite of all these odds we celebrate this so called woman’s day, because woman needs, cosmetics, fashion, garments and grocery, everything has a huge market and such days gives commercial success. From a school going young girl to an old lady is in any profession are judged by their looks than their potential. Men, as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men. Women are aware this is the case, and also derive their own sense of value from the way they look. This affects their self-confidence, task focus and performance, even on tasks totally unrelated to their looks.
Female athletes too, often receive comments on their outfits instead, of their achievements. Sania Mirza is one great example. If you Google her name, you will find all sorts of awkward pictures on prime search. The inclination to emphasis on women’s looks and bodies instead of their character traits or abilities even in situations where looks should not matter is quite widespread. There is another example of tennis player Serena Williams, who won the prestigious Roland Garros Grand Slam contest less than a year after having survived the difficult birth of her daughter. In the media, disapproval of her black catsuit prevailed over praise of her fitness and strong play. In a world filled with wonderful people of all colours, ethnicities, shapes, and sizes, I think it’s time that we flushed society’s ideas on who is beautiful down the toilet and agreed to be gentler and less judgemental about what others look like.
Even in commercials to beauty pageants and also in films, unless the woman is not given skimpy clothes to wear and expose her curves the film will not have sailable point. Expecting women to wear a swimsuit in a competition for talent is an obvious trigger to consider their bodies rather than their minds. There is no such show to guarantee that the competition will be about talents, instead of looks. In other situations too, more care is needed to ensure that women can display their talents without having to worry about the way they look. Random abuse, exploitation, rapes and honour killing in India shows how much we really respect the woman.
Girls believe that motherhood still disadvantages women in the workplace, and almost half of those aged 11 to 21 worry that having children will negatively affect their career. A similar number think that employers at least to some extent prefer to employ men to women. Half worry about the pay gap between men and women (50%), rising to 60 per cent among 16- to 21-year-olds. The levels of criticism female celebrities and women in the public eye in the media have also affected young women’s aspirations to be in similar positions one day. The way women are criticized for how they look on TV has put them off every wanting to be in a position where they’d appear on TV themselves.
Women should demand to be judged based on their intelligence, their character, their competence, their skills, their talents, their intellectual acuity, their capabilities, and their qualifications. They should insist that they should be respected for their brains and not for their bodies. After so many years of progress, there are still women out there who judge and evaluate each other first and foremost based on appearance. They make instantaneous character assumptions based on external characteristics. They carry the same bias that they have been fighting against, bypassing substance for style; but somehow, because they are women, that makes it okay. It is most certainly not okay. If it were just men who endorsed these biases, then it would be annoying, but somehow easier to accept. However, there are far too many empowered, independent, strong females who guzzle the “beauty ideal” Kool-Aid and who subscribe to the belief that physical attractiveness is a woman’s strongest asset, totally sabotaging efforts to convince society that women should be valued for who they are, and not for what they look like. I would guess that many of these women call themselves champions of the feminist cause and have no clue that they are anything but champs.
Meanwhile, in the digital and social media era looking beautiful is an utmost priority for men and women both. To make their pictures most beautiful there are many mobile apps that can give the look that they want. But this is not enough. The greed to upgrade or look glamorous leads people to scams but that is ok with them. We are all aware that there is a significant emphasis on appearance in the world that we live in. We have not only let society continue to correlate a woman’s value to the size of her body, but we, women, reinforce that code, which is so adversative to our desire to be assessed based on our intellect, our character, and our abilities. It’s disheartening. Well! Until we do not shed these double standards and learn to be human that the men and women, there is no point in celebrating woman’s day or man’s day.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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