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Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder

04 March 2016, 15:56 Marisa Crous

Even before summer started we were plagued by the tired phrase “bikini body”. Moving into chilly autumn, shall this henceforth be known as a kaftan beach body? Who knows?

By definition a bikini body should (in an ideal world) be a body clad in a bikini. Unfortunately we are far from living in an ideal world. Sports Illustrated, Baywatch, Malibu Barbie and the archaic swimsuit category at beauty pageants like Miss SA and Miss Universe are just some of the culprits perpetuating this ridiculous idea of what a woman’s body should look like in a bikini.

The notion of a perfect bikini body of course extends to a perfect lingerie body, a perfect gym body, a perfect red carpet body, etc. What’s next: a perfect lying-on-the-couch-watching-Netflix body?

And despite many efforts of media publications, retailers and social awareness campaigns to change this destructive discourse, we are still left with the ever defeating voice that says we shouldn’t be satisfied until we are flawless.

Shoulders too wide, frown too deep set, stomach too wobbly (give up cheese! What? Are you insane?). Honestly, our list of flaws goes on and on. Not that most of us actively intend to “fix” our flaws, like, ever. I mean if it required very little work, sure. Yet the nagging angst that comes with this societal expectation is the ultimate in mental trickery.

So, is beauty truly in the eye of the beholder? And do you have the power to decide whether or not you feel beautiful?

After watching an episode of America’s Next Top Model that featured a shoot highlighting the “flaws” of the model contestants (which, in true Tyra Banks-style she dubbed flaw-some. Sigh.), I realised that despite her good intentions, the shoot fell flat. It was trying too hard.

The “beholder” has over the years been tainted, trained like Pavlov’s dog to react and think in certain ways. The beholder is basically an idiot. Devoid of much free will. Teaching the beholder to love imperfections (initiating a kind of reboot manoeuvre in terms of social thinking) has been said to be the answer to all our problems. But will more ads promoting women with fuller figures, bad skin and small boobs do the trick? I am, sadly, dubious.

Dubious because I think this will just lead us down a yellow brick road filled with disappointment. For most, the idea of being perfect ticks all the boxes. I am perfect therefore I am desirable, wanted, good enough and so forth. The ego is an incredibly idiotic thing. And as long as our ego is fed and recognised for its seeming ideal behaviour, it will remain an idiot. To destroy the idiot that has grown inside all of us for so very long, we need to find happiness in something other than the superficial.

In the end, we all just want to find a self-actualisation that makes us feel like we are skipping in ruby slippers. And I am more than 100% sure, beauty or looking sexy in a bikini will not do the trick.

- Woman24


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