Beauty brand Dove revealed that only 2 percent of Singaporean women feel they are “beautiful”. Deborah Tan talks about this confidence crisis facing women and how to overcome it.
The Beauty debate is a whirlpool many woman writers try their best to avoid. It’s definitely easy to go all the way and proclaim that women should love themselves, and the way they look, wholeheartedly and unconditionally. But, is it really this straightforward?
As a former beauty writer and a magazine editor, I have found myself struggling to talk about beauty because there is no clear-cut line distinguishing what is right and what is wrong.
Yes, I agree we should not air-brush every image inside a magazine to death. Yes, I think the use of models and celebrities in advertising is manipulative. No, I don’t think using beauty products and wearing makeup makes me a traitor to the body-love movement. No, I think it’s perfectly okay to want to use skincare to get good skin, to want to exercise to have a great body, and to blow my hair cos I love it big and bouncy.
The point I’ve always tried to make is, beauty is something we should enjoy, and we need to take a chill-pill when it comes to the way we look. Most importantly, I think we should NEVER let ANYONE tell us if we should be fat/thin/pale/tanned/Asian/Pan-Asian/whatever. A long time ago, I wrote a commentary about an article applauding a magazine for using a plump celebrity on its cover. I felt uncomfortable because the original writer was – in a way – promoting another body stereotype. She failed to see that her stance on what magazines should put on their covers was also encouraging an “ideal” look.
Most people think there are only two sides to the body-love debate: if you reject what is natural, you are subscribing to evil. But there are so many facets to this topic! Just because you don’t want to be fat, it doesn’t immediately mean you want to be stick-thin. Just because you want to do something about your cellulite, it doesn’t automatically make you a member of the Loathe My Body Club.
Our relationship with our face and body is a complicated one. Each of us have days when we feel awesome, days when we feel “blob-by”, days when we feel we can get away with not exercising, days when we feel we can’t. Most of us have hang-ups about our appearances, the key is: do you pinch the dimply skin on your thigh, tell yourself you may go to the gym later, and get on with life? Or, do you decide because of your cellulite, you should imprison yourself at home?
The statistics of a Dove survey – as you’ll see in the infographic below – is shocking. Only 2% of women in Singapore feel they are “beautiful”. Is it because we think “beautiful” is a word that should only be used to describe Hollywood celebrities? A superlative word reserved only for women with, what we perceived are, breath-taking appearances.
How can we all start to feel more beautiful? As Dove’s latest body-love video “Patches” shows, it is – first and foremost – a state of mind. Do we choose to embrace what we have been given, make them work for us OR, are we going to let ourselves be held down by our so-called inadequacies?
I would like to recommend 5 ways we can all start to overcome our personal crisis in body-confidence:
It floods your body with feel-good hormones so that when you look at your pictures, you are less critical of your “flaws”. As you become healthier, stronger and fitter, you will also see your body in a whole new way – suddenly, your “thunder thighs” that can run a marathon are weapons, not flaws.
2. Stop buying into cheesy “fitspo” talk
I don’t think they are inspiring at all. In fact, I feel “fitspo” talk is a form of guilt-tripping. Not every woman needs to lose 5kg. Not everyone feels good pushing themselves hard. Just like how we refuse to let anyone tell us how we should look, we have to put our foot down and stop letting people tell us how much we should sweat, what we should eat …
3. Pull out of the Body-Hate Club now!
Stop contributing to the Body-Hate conversation! Recently, I was trying on a dress at Zara and a group of ladies walked into the fitting area to try on clothes. One person lamented about her belly, another followed with comments about her own thighs, a third chimed in and started on her skin … it was just one massive body self-pity club!
4. There is no magic number
Your chest doesn’t have to measure 36 inches, your waist doesn’t have to be 24 inches, and your weight doesn’t have to be 45kg. And it’s perfectly OKAY to not fit into a Size 8 dress.
5. Believe in the good
I don’t get why we are so eager to believe in the bad things people say about us but choose to ignore the good things others tell us. It’s like we have this pathological desire to want to hear that we are fat, we are overweight and we are ugly. I think we need to start ignoring the negative and ENJOY it when people say, “You don’t need to lose weight”, “You look great”, “I don’t see anything wrong with your nose”.
REMEMBER: If you don’t start seeing the Beauty in yourself, it will be challenging for others to see it in you.
Enjoy our infographic here:
Let’s make a commitment to our bodies right here, right now! In the Comments section below, complete this sentence: “I will stop worrying about the way my _______ looks.” I look forward to reading your answers. 🙂
Infographic produced by Material World using figures provided by Dove’s PR agency Ate Integrated Communications. This post is in neither paid for nor advised by Dove or Ate. All opinions are the author’s own.
About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She says, “I will stop worrying about the way my jawline looks.” Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.