“One precious drop. One luxurious moment. Reawaken your youthful skin tone as you lift and help firm the look of your delicate eye area with this silky serum. Puffiness and fine lines appear to gently fade away, replaced with your own ageless luminosity.”
These are the words I read on the fourth page of a common women’s magazine that was mistakenly delivered in the mail today. These are the words repeatedly plastered, in minor variation, throughout most women’s magazines. It is the same notion that has infiltrated our self-perception as women: we must do everything in our power to be perfect in every way, shape and form. This distorted female ideal has been cleverly immortalized by our society, inserted into various facets of our culture—touting a form that hardly represents true femininity.
It is difficult to define the point in which a woman’s body became a commodity, auctioned off to be tweaked and trivialized for the pleasure of profit. In my own life, however, it is easy to pinpoint when I became agonizingly aware of my own culturally-defined shortcomings. These blemishes were highlighted by the innumerable magazines that I devoured as a teen, whose ideas were perpetuated by myself and my peers. This was the beginning of a youth and young adulthood spent combating the thoughts of inferiority that crept into my mind when I reflected upon myself.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the varying forms of beauty; I’ve realized that my body tells a story; and I’ve realized that my mind is my richest possession. I like to think of the woman I have grown to become as rational and intelligent, but there are still times when these attributes experience moments of elusiveness. When my worrisome mind gets the best of me, I remind myself of this poignant thought from Diana Vreeland:
“You don’t have to be pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female’.”
She was a fashion columnist and editor for some of the very magazines that bolster the aforementioned ideals of our society. Does this diminish the point she sought to make? I think not.