आइतबार, साउन ६, २०८१
20:52 | ०१:३७

The Unspoken Pressures on Women

नेपाली लिङ्क सेप्टेम्बर ३, २०२३

Swopnil Devkota

Many of us have experienced various situations as women. The society we live in and the culture we prefer to adhere to have all played important roles in forming who we are today. I am aware that these issues also impact men. But today I want to concentrate from the viewpoint of a young woman.

Life as a woman in our society is nothing short of an adventure. Picture this: a never-ending guidebook on how to be the perfect woman. It’s a comprehensive manual, dictating not only how to look but how to behave, smile, and yes, even breathe. The expectations are high, the rules are strict, and the pressure is suffocating.

Women are expected to conduct themselves in a composed, unobtrusive manner. They are meant to be understanding, kind, quiet, and patient. They are expected to appear more feminine than masculine and to be, well, basically perfect—always attractive, shy, and immaculately groomed. Women must always appear young in order to uphold these ideals, you know. And in order to do that, they need to continue to keep up with market trends and maintain their fashionable sensibilities.

When asked about societal pressure, one of the woman I met said, “Women also experience societal pressures related to body image, which are frequently superficial and encourage erroneous expectations that women should look a specific way and have a certain body type. The worst part is that these days, people go to beauty salons for services like pedicures, manicures, and facials on a regular basis. Women from the age of twenty five are lured to spend money at dermatologists where people now make appointments and frequently attend for lifts and fillers.”

Now, let’s dive into some psychology, shall we? According to the renowned American psychologist Carl Rogers, we all have three images of ourselves: the ideal self, the way others see us, and the real us. If there is no congruency in between these here, then problems occur. And I kind of agree with him. How others see us cannot always be kept up as we might not be able to maintain us in accordance to others and then we face disappointments, then we have that one ideal self that we view ourselves to be but then there is the real us, with flaws and imperfections and it is okay. Do we see the catch? These images rarely align. It’s a constant struggle to live up to the way others perceive us and even more challenging to match our own ideal image. The result? Endless disappointment.

But wait, there’s more! In today’s world, everyone is an influencer. From beauty gurus to fashion experts, they’re all eager to offer advice on boosting body positivity, achieving that elusive “glass skin,” and defying the aging process. Women simply stated that ,”yet, amidst this cacophony, only a handful emphasize the importance of simply being comfortable in our own skin and that it is okay if you are dark or fair, or fat or thin, or if you got cellulite or stretchmarks because that is perfectly normal.” We all go through it, and it serves more as the beginning of your path toward becoming who and what you are now.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: the generation gap. When asked to a twenty year old I met, she said “Older generations often find themselves bewildered by the rapid changes in culture and fashion. Older generation might not like the trendy fashion and cultural changes that are happening and because of that there is rise to other problems.” When asked about this scenario to married women, they respond that “Being a daughter and being a daughter-in-law will be different because one can do as she pleases whereas other has to maintain the image of perfection. If this is not done by our society then who else?” But here’s the real question: who sets these beauty standards, anyway? Surprisingly, even educated individuals with deeply ingrained mindsets are staunch enforcers of these ideals. It’s as if we’re being squeezed into a mold that doesn’t allow us to breathe freely. We are being grounded by very educated people with very fixed mindsets and that will not make anyone breathable comfortable in their own skin.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating for anarchy. I believe in preserving our culture, tradition, and discipline. But there’s a pressing need to find a middle ground where everyone can comfortably inhabit their own skin without the constant fear of falling short.

All these societal pressures converge on women and their perceived beauty. The consequences are dire, leading to body dissatisfaction, plummeting self-esteem, and, in some cases, serious mental health issues. Some women have clearly stated, “It’s crucial to understand that there’s so much more to women than meets the eye. Each one of us is unique in our own way, and there’s no need for the proliferation of makeup products, each with its tutorial on how to look “beautiful” 24/7.” So it’s high time we shifted our focus as a society. Let’s prioritize body positivity, acceptance, and uniqueness over these superficial and unattainable beauty standards. Every woman deserves to feel beautiful without needing validation from anyone. It’s time to let our women breathe freely, not just in their own skin but in the society they help shape and nurture.

Swopnil Devkota
Psychosocial Counselor


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