The Weight of Beauty

The journalists from the Daily Mail went to 4 major cities in England to ask girls why they dressed up like prostitutes to go clubbing. They made a very interesting article out of it. The photos and the answers are puzzling. The girls are half naked in very high heels in the middle of winter. Most of them say they don’t feel confident enough to go out if they don’t dress up like this. Then the journalist asked a psychologist about the phenomenom and she said:

‘The sad thing is that the confidence of these girls has become directly proportionate to how they look. It doesn’t come from what they have achieved or what skills they have learned. It comes from how much attention and looks they get from men. The problem comes when your only desire is to be desired.”

Women like/want/need male attention. Provoking a reaction and being noticed is a sign that we exist, that our mere presence is valuable to the world. And what’s the most efficient way for a woman to win male attention: having a successful career? Having a great sense of humour? Being exceptionally kind and attentive to others? No. Being beautiful. The hottest chick always gets more attention- in real-life as much as in a movie or in a TV show.

When I started writing this article, I wondered how women really felt about their looks. Was it really that bad? Do women really measure their self-worth according to their looks? I wanted to find out how much beauty weighed in a woman’s life. So I created an anonymous online survey and asked women to give me answers.

38 women of all ages between 23 and 83 years old took the survey. Here is a compilation of the most interesting results.

1. Self-Rating

First, I asked the participants to give me a number between 1 and 10 to define how good looking they thought they were:

The comparison between the results and the respondents’ age showed a clear tendency: the lower ratings were from women under 26 or over 45. The highest ratings were from women around their 30’s. When I think about it, I’ve never felt as good in my own skin as today at age 28. Maybe I was prettier at 22 but I lacked the self-confidence that I gained through the years.

2. High heels

I could have asked “How often do you wear make-up?” instead but I thought high heels were interesting because no-one can pretend they are comfy. Make-up may be expensive and time-consumming but once it’s on your face, it doesn’t hurt at the end of the day. High heels are probably the most unnatural thing women use to look nice. Like most of the women who took my survey, I also wear heels often and it clearly makes a difference.

The respondents could also explain why they wear heels. One woman wrote: “I am an anti-high-heel activist: it hurts your feet, it impairs your back forever, it makes you run less faster when you are chased by a bull…” This is true. Nonetheless, 34% of the women who took the survey wears high heels more than 3 times  week.

The most common reason given is to look better: “It makes me look more elegant and slimmer.”; “To make me feel taller and less frumpy”;”It’s sexy”; “My legs look slimmer”.

Another reason is style: “Some outfits look better with heels, e.g. skirts and dresses. Heels also give a feminine touch.”; “They’re stylish”; “I never find pretty flat shoes”; “Makes me look more dressed up and feminine”

Some wear them to go out: “I wear heels for special occasions.”

Some wear them to go to work: “Makes me look more professional.”

The word “Feminine” and “sexy” shows up in almost all answers.

3. Weight

Surprise! Most women want to lose weight. Related questions were “Are you on a diet?” and “Do you chose your food according to the amount of calories that’s in it?”. Unexpectedly, only 3 of all of the women wanting to lose weight said they were on a diet. 51% of them still chose food according to the amount of calories that’s in them “sometimes”.

4. Complexes (insecurities)

The most interesting part of the survey for me were the answers to this question:

83% of the 38 women have complexes even though a large part of them rate themselves above 7. Respondents could also explain what exaclty their complexes were. The variety of them is daunting:

“My breasts are too small”; “My breasts are too large”;

“My bottom is too big” ;”My butt is too flat!”

“My hips are too large”; “Thighs too big”; “My belly is too fat”; “I never show my belly to anyone.”

“My arms are too skinny”; “My arms are chubby”; “My arms are too hairy”; “I have bumps in my arms”

Some don’t seem to like anything about themselves: “Mostly, I don’t like the shape of my body” (this one still rated herself as a 7); “I don’t like my lips and my nose, I have cellulite and small breasts.” (Yet, she rated herself as 8).

Some seem quite insecure: “I constantly compare myself to other people on the street.”

This one made me laugh: “I am terribly afraid of getting grey hair or a double chin! Worst case scenario: both happening at the same time…”

The prize for common sense goes to this one: “My thighs are too large and my breasts are too small. However, on a good day, I remember that guys in nightclubs pick me up anyway. So these things aren’t as unappealing as I feel they are on a bad day.”

5. Plastic Surgery

I was surprised to find out that only 19% of the women who took the survey had seriously considered plastic surgery.

6. Confidence

The last question was: “If you wish, tell us how confident you feel in general about yourself, your looks and your other qualities.”

Many respondents are convinced that their self-confidence is directly proportional to the time and energy they spend on improving their looks:

“The more I dress up  (make-up and clothes), the more confident I feel.”; ” I feel quite confident and even better if my body is dressed in nice clothes that underline the beautiful parts of my body and cover the ugly ones”; “The more I excersise at the gym and stay active, the more confident I feel about myself and my looks”;

“I think that women feel more or less comfortable depending on the time they spend on their appearance. Sometimes, I am just tired and late, so I don’t take time to put on make up or to chose a pretty outfit. But when I do, it is just : Wow! Totally different.”

The older women were definitely the more confident:

“I am very confident which is amazing for an overweight woman in her mid-fifties but I am very comfortable in my own skin.”

The oldest respondent said: “I feel pretty confident. No matter how old you may be a woman ALWAYS wants to look her best”.

Women may lose some of their beauty with age but they gain confidence through the years. Which is great.

A younger participant also had wise words: “I have my good and bad days. I think women are more victims of society than men. There is a lot of pressure on women to stay young, thin, and pretty. Men can go bald, get fat and make babies at any age. Women have a ‘sell by date’ imposed on them by society. Advertisements push the paradigm of the thin young Lolita-like woman. This paradigm reflects our modern day society of consumption. But I think a happy woman is a beautiful woman!”

Conclusion

What I learned with this survey is that most women have insecurities. Because there will always be a girl who looks better, slimmer, whose body is more perfect, whose breasts are bigger. Especially if you take advertising or magazines at face value; society gives us a surreal image of women: young, perfect skin, smooth hair and impossibly perfect body. (Click on the link to watch an insightful video on the topic.)

We shouldn’t compare ourselves to models in magazines and actresses. First, because they are beauty professionals- if you played football, would you compare your performances to a pro? Second, because their beauty is unreal: mostly, their perfect faces and bodies are the result of crafty photoshop skills. However, it is hard not to compare ourselves to real people around us. I like to observe people and their features and I always find something stunning about them. And that’s fine. Another girl’s beauty won’t make you any less pretty.

We can’t photoshop ourselves but we can work on our confidence. High heels, make-up and nice clothes definitely help. But it can’t be the only way. Women have to find confidence within themselves. Find some poise, talk clearly when you want to be heard, occupy the space around you and be proud of what is beautiful in you. Some respondents to the survey said high heels improved their posture and made them sexier; I bet you also have a great posture when your head’s up because you feel confident. And being sexy is an attitude as much as a look. Confident women, even if those who are not conventionally beautiful, make an impression. They are noticed.

When I started working on this article, I wanted to write that beauty was a kind of power. Sure, being beautiful can help you getting a job, attention, draw people’s interest towards you… But confidence is what makes beauty more than skin deep.

5 thoughts on “The Weight of Beauty

  1. Pingback: No Make-Up! « "Live Like It's Heaven On Earth"

  2. as you said, beaty will fade away. and if a guy goes out with you just for your beaty you should ask yourself at what age he will break up (divorce??) because you’re not the “beatiful” one you were when younger.
    but wht men don’t realise is that older women also look for younger men at some point if they don’t find a reassuring men to stay with. and at that point, they’re loosing the game too…
    :)))
    now time to leave work! hahaha

    • I agree! I think men start having pressure to look good as well anyway. Women also care about men’s appearance. For me, it’s more about making an effort and I’ll always be more attracted to a healthy guy who exercises and take minimum care of himself.

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