By Rachna Thim
© UNICEF Cambodia/2018/Antoine Raab
“If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”
I grew up in an extremely conservative society where the position of women still frustrates me to death. I grew up in a society where women’s look is held above everything else. I receive comments without asking. I was told that I should look up to par to social beauty standards or else I don’t deserve any love. I was labeled ‘ugly’ because apparently, I don’t fit the stereotypical beauty standards decided by who knows how. Supposedly, ‘the way I look is associated with my intellectual ability’. Comments like these, about my look, never fail to wound me emotionally. I grew up never really feeling comfortable with myself. Insecurities eventually become my second skin.
Whether we like it or not, we are judged by our appearance. We, women and girls more than boys and men, are still judged by how we look, how we dress, and how we carry ourselves. We attract comments without asking, and to this society, our looks come first and above anything else. According to a research by the Institute of Sociology of the University of Lodz, while both women and men are aware of the importance of appearance for social functioning, women are judged more by their looks than men in various spheres of life.
Why does appearance always have to come first? Why is a woman’s worth measured by how she looks when there are so many potentials, skills, talent, abilities, and emotional maturity to be explored?
Being a woman is not all about how we look, and we do not deserve to be treated any less for looking different. We don’t want to be judged by our look – that is not something we created. Our skills, our attitude, our talent, our achievements is what we need to be judged upon because that is something of our doing. After all, beauty is in the eyes of the beholders, and a little kindness and respect do not hurt anyone.
“If I can have any impact, I want women to feel good about themselves and have fun with fashion,” said American Former First Lady, Michelle Obama. Self-love is not something that comes easily. We better embrace ourselves for who we are. Love ourselves for what we bring to this world and demand respect.
Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.