Male body has been praised since Ancient Greek times and was considered nearly semi-divine while the female body was associated with debauchery, seduction and sin. Poor Eve has sinned with a serpent on a tree, and till these days all of humanity still suffers for it. Even though it was actually the serpent who seduced her (which means he is to blame for the sin), victim blaming was not invented yesterday, so Eve was tagged a scapegoat because she (
is a woman) couldn’t resist the persuasion. Just take a notice of how women were made responsible for all the sins throughout centuries and similar pattern has remained till our days.
The history takes us further. From witch burning for their seductive red hair to corsets that broke ribs and prevented proper breathing. Not to mention that a woman could not even inherit or decide anything on her own, a man was the one who always managed finances and said a final word in important decisions. It was believed that woman was something like a part of property, and her freedom was out of the question, because even the decision to marry someone was made by her father or the head of the family, and a woman simply had to meet the expectations (give birth, manage the household, etc.) Women have never had a right to their body, and it has been stigmatised and devalued an infinite number of times. And this is despite the fact that a woman can give life to a new generation... An absolutely unbelievable situation, in which, instead of being praised, a woman falls into an actual slavery and this has been considered normal for many years.
Thoughts don’t come to our head out of nowhere. Our brain is designed in such way that it processes the received information and produces a result based on external influences and experiences. This is how we learn, this is how we explore the world, and this is how we find out what is good and what isn’t. That is where the big problem with perception of one's body lies, which is influenced by the outside standards. No matter how hard you want to think that you are to decide what is beautiful and what is not; unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. You wouldn’t think that shaved legs are neat if it didn’t become a norm in a society which you live in (spoiler: your grandmothers didn’t shave their legs and no one cared). Similarly, if you lived in other cultures and countries, you would think that tan is terrible or you could strive to lengthen your neck or just intentionally get fat (yes, it is still considered the beauty ideal among some nations). Therefore, no matter how hard we try, we are all subject to external influence because we live in a society and absorb its framework and limitations.
They often come from childhood, and they are related to the traditions of bringing up girls in a patriarchal society (that most of our mothers or grandmothers grew up in). You needed to be neat, diligent, behave yourself and not talk back. You needed to watch your temper, monitor your academic performance, as well as keep an eye on younger siblings and help around the house. Also wear dresses that fall below the knee and braid hair. From an early age, a girl had to comply with the rules of etiquette and not cause conflicts while boys were allowed more, since pranks and whims were chalked up to the fact that such is "a boys’ nature". And our mothers are not at all to blame for bringing us up like in the same manner, they themselves are victims of this environment and they tried to prepare us for life the best way they thought they could.
When we grow up, we don’t always become free from these stereotypes. Often such attitudes remain with us for the entire life, and if we don’t become introspective, they can significantly interfere with our daily being. We get used to living within the framework and apply perfectionist standards for our own appearance. We continue to prove (to parents, society, ourselves) that we are actually worth appreciation, that we deserve to be praised and get a positive evaluation. However, we forget that we don’t need it at all.
It is difficult to talk about personal freedom and self-acceptance when female body is still stigmatised daily. There is absolutely nothing shameful in bodies of any sex and gender, but this opinion is not supported by most social networks and governments. Female nipples are censored, posts are deleted just for bare skin areas, and female bloggers receive a lot of hate just because they have slightly "looser morals". Freedom today is not freedom either. It is characterised more as an allowable debauchery, which is from time to time being restricted (mostly female blogger accounts get banned).
We live in an era of puritanical attitudes towards the female body, when even nude images are criminalised. Woman is a crime, woman is a shame. Racism, insults and bullying are still not in the same focus of attention (or just becoming), in contrast to the female body. Even sex tapes that ex-boyfriends leak onto the Internet only lead to the condemnation of the woman in subject, but for some reason everyone forgets about the real criminal who turned someone else's personal life into a show. And everything’s only getting worse, the framework is narrowed, the rules are tightened, and we are only left to hope for the best. It is difficult to be self-sufficient and self-confident when any of your moves might get .
animated by Fréderic Doazan and Vandy Roc
The beauty industry is a huge and multi-million business that occupies a very large sphere of influence and consumption in modern society. And this business makes income mostly on women's insecurities. Suddenly, cellulite is a problem (spoiler, cellulite is a normal state of body that doesn’t require any interventions) in order to endlessly fight against it. Many people still get worried because of stretch marks, scars and even cuticles, as if a woman's body must be perfect, without a single flaw. Women tirelessly polish themselves, living in constant dissatisfaction with their bodies, which is fed off by all kinds of services for improving their appearance. This is a very complex and multidimensional issue, but the point is that it also seems a free choice while in fact, it isn’t.
Beauty businesses work closely with major media and fashion houses. Media personalities, actors and famous people help popularise beauty services. Celebrities often don’t even hide the fact that they go under the knife for the eternal youth, and it seems quite easy and accessible. However, they don’t show what it’s like after the surgery, with bandages, bruises, with pain and chills. They don’t tell anyone that there could be complications, that they might have regretted doing these alterations and that if they could, they would undo all those manipulations for good.