A controversy emerged last week after the publication of Emma Watson’s Vanity Fair cover photoshoot. The reason for the backlash suffered by the actress: her topless breasts impeding on her beliefs on feminism. There is not much to say, apart from quoting her own response: “Feminism is about having a choice. It’s not a stick with which to beat other women. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberation, it’s about equality. I really don’t know what my [breasts] have to do with it.”
As I tried to explain quite extensively in this post, I strongly believe that feminism is a universal value that any person with a bit of common sense shall share and therefore that is not the point of this post. Furthermore, a focus on choice interwoven with the pressure put on women, sow the seed for noteworthy points. Today is March 8, also known as International Women’s Day, and I will thus ponder on the female viewpoint although I believe that all the points I’m about to make are inherent to human nature, male and female alike and there shall be no difference between them.
Have you ever thought of counting the adverts you come across during a twenty-four hour period? If you ever did, how many of them are subconsciously planting ideals into your mind? In fact, most of them, whether it is by letting you know of the unique loans a bank is offering (as being able to own something, whatever that is, is an ideal for our consumer society) or the brand new diet pill billboard (that no matter whether you want to use them or not want to convince you that you are overweight). Throughout history, advertising has constantly been used to convey what seems best according to an era’s most eminent trends and it is undeniable that over the years it has managed to plant those ‘Ideals’ seeds into our minds, whether we admit it or not.
During our entire existence and incessantly in our daily lives, we are always subject to those preconceived ideas that we should be/have/do this and not that. The media plays an important part in conveying those messages, yet at times the pressure may come from much closer, be it a relative or a friend’s opinion. In this excerpt for the 2010 series Killing Us Softly Jean Killbourne documented the very negative effects of advertising on women
(read more about it here). As the speaker underlines ‘ads sell more than products, they sell values, images and concepts of love and sexuality and success’ and tell us ‘what we should be’. In the end, we may not always realize it but some of our ideals are solely based on unrealistic images placed in our minds by our peers or by the media.
Nowadays, there is so much pressure regarding our outer and even inner self. The way looks are enhanced and portrayed in the media is only one topic in which people are told ‘the right way to be like physically’ but there are so many others subjects we could dwell upon. Society wants us to believe that there is only one way for each area of our life: the right way to dress up, to succeed, to love, to behave, and simply the right way to live but truth is that is not accurate. There is indeed a right way to live and that is to be yourself.
Whether your level of self-esteem is average or not, you probably always encounter some moments in one area of your life, be it professional or personal, when you question yourself according to the opinion of others. Do people think this dress is too short? Should I post this photograph or will people think of me as narcissistic and superficial? I could go on with a myriad of other very diverse examples.
Now you have the choice: to follow your heart or to choose what everyone else around you would pick. Ask yourself: do you want to keep living the rest of your life doing what others would do or do you want to stay true to your beliefs, interests and feelings?
Next time you question yourself, dare to pick the first option. Listen to your heart and quiet the voices around you. Forget about any judgmental being you might come across on your way. Focus on yourself. There might be whispers and negative feedback but there will also be bravery in being plainly authentic.
Women are more vulnerable to criticism than men as regards to clothing or even behavior in certain cases, but we can fight it. Equality means having the same range of choice.
Remind yourself not to impede on other people’s choice. Do not choose for them. Let them handle their right to choose with freedom and without pressure.
Choose what your heart wants and crush down the questions that may arise right after first thinking about it. Just do it. I dare you. The right question is: Do you think this dress is too short? Post the damn selfie. This is just a selfie after all, isn’t it?