I mentioned the documentary The Real Full Monty ladies’ night in last week’s style letter as I do think it is a piece of television every woman will get something from. But there is an element that keeps echoing round my thoughts, which I would like to get off my chest and share with you here. (No distasteful pun intended).
Why is so much of who we are and what we as women stand for, based on our appearance? Why is it so deep rooted in our perceived well-being? Some of those women are lucky to be alive and healthy, but yet their looks are still a primary and highly emotional concern.
You may think this commentary is hypocritical coming from me; someone who styles and designs clothes for a living, to be worn and liked because they are attractive or aesthetically pleasing. Or to make the wearer feel more attractive and beautiful. I just think that as much as it was a moving piece of TV they could have gone further with it. Perhaps it was edited to keep one clear message and focus on the bravery of the women overcoming their inhibitions to raise money for breast cancer. But I can’t recall a single line that said anything along the lines of “you are beautiful as you” – with or without perfectly healthy breasts.
If we put less focus on our breasts it might make losing one, part of one or even both less of a trauma. In the wake of the #MeToo and #TimesUp shouldn’t we be considering how we respect and regard our bodies in a new, better way rather than allowing them to be continually objectified by ourselves first and by other women? The stigma a woman currently feels from losing her breasts could be so much less if our attitudes towards how a woman’s attractiveness is valued. A woman doesn’t need to be attractive to have a good heart, a brilliant mind to show compassion or empathy. She doesn’t need two breasts, a size 8 figure or unlimited amounts of money to be fabulously stylish either!
Our appearance is important to us. How we feel about how we look is an integral part of being a human and a woman. We have decorated our bodies since the beginning of time, but it is modern times that have put so much pressure on women to “look a certain way”. In the 1920’s having a small or non-existent bust was what women aspired too and wore bust flatteners to minimize their breasts and show as little shape as possible.
How we choose to adorn our bodies continues to be important to our well-being but, it’s the judging of what lies beneath the clothes, only on how our body looks, that I push against. The strong emphasis today on it being essential to have “normal” breasts is I believe detrimental to a woman’s mental image of herself. The world in which we now live somehow also manages to make us believe that we are “less” attractive as we age, when instead we should be using the experience we have gained to realise that aging is a gift not everyone gets to experience and not something to hide or feel negative about.
So here is my thought for the weekend. Give your body the appreciation it deserves instead of being judgmental against a standard that shouldn't have the importance it does. And if you don’t quite get what I mean, go watch the Greatest Showman and sing “This is me!!”