As with much of our society, the expectation of the female body is a concept that has been narrated and enforced by male desires. The unobtainable beauty standards placed upon women is not unrecognised or unnoticed, yet it is something that feels incredibly unwavering. Female insecurity as a result of the overwhelming pressure to look a certain way is not only dangerous but also affects women in ways that extend far beyond romantic or sexual situations. While it would be unreasonable to demonise men for their natural tendencies to find certain women attractive, I don’t believe men should have the right to openly comment on the appearance of women.
Although this argument of such a reductionist approach may contribute to the perpetuation of male and female stereotypes, a customary social habit which I usually rebuff, I feel in this case it has some validity. It is not my intention to dismiss, discredit or undermine male victims, or imply an exclusionary attitude, but simply to emphasise the deeper and more dangerous implications of this form of criticism, both for individuals and society, when targeted towards a woman. There is an inherent and severe discrepancy in the significance of body image between genders, established by the patriarchy and fuelled by the subsequent malevolence of female competition and jealousy. My argument here is not that males are unaffected by criticism of body image, but rather that the historical male dominance and dictatorship in our society, which has led to impossible beauty standards as the definition of the intrinsic value of women through sexualisation and objectification of the female body, robs them of their ability to criticise female appearance in our progressed and more equal society.
I have found that with every friendship issue, I always seem to be able to identify insecurity, whether it be theirs or my own, as the fundamental source of flawed behaviour. Female insecurity can manifest in such a number of different ways that it is often hard to identify, and unrecognised by its owner. Insecurity, lack of confidence and the formidable feeling of worthlessness shared by women does not manifest in a social sisterhood, but instead creates a hostile atmosphere where women are regularly pitted against each other. Women are socially directed into insecurity by the male narrative of what defines attractiveness,and the primitive competition and jealousy that ensues adds to this continuous cycle of not feeling good enough. Attractive women are often met with female scepticism,criticism and contempt as a result of the inadequacy other women feel in contrast. The more attractive a girl is, the more socially acceptable it is for her to act in ways that would be deemed rude, offensive or bitchy by less objectively beautiful women who are instead expected to be funny, kind and humble. The latter directly implicates female appearance in personality,suggesting that sexiness can even out less attractive character traits. This lack of distinction between character and aesthetics is something that is far less prevalent with men.
This is not to say that men do not experience insecurity or criticism, but simply that their self-doubt does not define them to the same extent and largely has foundations in non-superficial traits. Women are brought up in a society which dictates to them that self-worth is derived from aesthetics, whereas men are praised for characteristics like strength, intelligence and humour. In our current society, as a girl is growing up she is forced to navigate the social pressure placed upon her to look a certain way to meet male requirements,whilst also fighting against the attitudes of other women as well as her own.This culminates in an overwhelming and impossible burden, resulting in a perpetual feeling of inadequacy and worthlessness. Women, in my experience, do not see men in this same way. There is very little importance placed upon male physique,with certain stereotypical figures being seen as a bonus rather than an expectation. Women tend to value personality much higher and a more subjective taste in men is accepted.
Women need to be more openly praised for their character rather than appearance to relieve some of the pressure placed upon them, thus allowing them to develop a more fundamental confidence. If the discussion of female beauty by men was less of an open platform, women may have more of a chance to succeed in a world that often seems to be biased towards their failure.