Redefining Beauty

We exist in a time where information is more easily accessible than ever before. Along with information, we are often bombarded with opinions, and at times it can be hard to discern the difference. One of the areas this difficulty arises in, is in defining beauty. Not only are we often presented with fake images as the truth, but we are also presented a fixed notion of what can be considered beautiful in the society we live in. This becomes increasingly problematic when what is considered beautiful is influenced by businesses who seek to profit from people’s insecurities.

Dr. Gail Dines concisely puts this idea across as “If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.” It may appear quite simple when you consider that all industries depend on demand for the growth of their businesses. But unlike in the case of food, these industries seem to create an artificial desire and pump in their products to try to fill that void. These industries are built on the insecurity of women, and they position themselves as trying to help women attain happiness and success. They do this by equating a particular standard of beauty with prosperity and affluence in all aspects of life, be it career or romantic. Often this standard is one that is unattainable, allowing a constant stream of purchases in the hopes of improving their lives. When the idea of beauty remains something unattainable, basing one’s self worth and happiness on this idea is damaging. It may seem impossible to truly be satisfied with oneself.

Instead of chasing this idea, maybe the answer lies in redefining beauty. To pushing its boundaries beyond what society tells us, to include our own definition of beauty. In this, lies a choice. We can either accept the definition of beauty presented to us, and continue to be dissatisfied with our appearances and critical of those around us. Or, we can choose to see the beauty that exists around us. We can choose to see beauty in confidence and smiles. We can choose to accept that society’s definition of beauty is not the only one. We can make our choice based on what we want for ourselves, not on what others want for us. But one must remember, that beauty is not the ultimate goal. Colorism is not only a problem because it values one shade of skin over others, it promotes the idea that people, and women in particular, should base their self worth in their physical appearance.  Health, knowledge and kindness are far better parameters on which to measure self worth. So, it seems to me that if we want to be more satisfied with ourselves and self confident, there is a twofold task before us. We must redefine what beauty is to us, to include more than unattainable standards, and simultaneously recognise that our worth does not lie in our physical appearances.

I started to think about this idea of redefining beauty when I first joined college. One thing I hadn’t expected, was how this turned out to be an entry into an immensely positive community. I remember having conversations with my friends about how beautiful the people around us were, and not beautiful in the way society conventionally defines it. These conversations with my friends helped me see that when I started looking beyond conventional beauty in the people around me, I started to feel more beautiful as well. I believe that developing this sort of positive dialogue, by complementing the people around you instead of commenting about them, and looking for beauty rather than looking for flaws, goes a long way in building your own happiness.

[su_box title=”About the author” style=”soft” box_color=”#f3f3f3″ title_color=”#000000″ radius=”5″]Sneha is a 19 year old who is currently pursuing her B.A Economics in Azim Premji University in Bangalore. Because of her interest in pursuing a career in development, she is currently interning at Women of Worth. [/su_box]

She Leads Indeed

As a part of the She Leads initiative, a joint campaign by the Madras Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Women of Worth and the British Deputy High Commission of India, a leadership workshop was organised at the Great Lakes Institute of Management. The She Leads campaign recognised aspiring young women from across India and inspired them to take up roles as leaders in their respective fields. Ten winners from various colleges were selected and an award ceremony was organised earlier in the year. At the event, they were able to interact with people such as Shruti Hassan, Kiran Bedi and the British Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai. As a continuation of this campaign, a three day leadership workshop starting on the 31st of June, was conducted by the Great Lakes Institute of Management Chennai.

The workshop began with Prof. G. N Radhakrishnan who conducted a session on personal effectiveness and developing self. He explored the concept of emotional intelligence and its relevance to leadership, which is a topic that has gained importance recently. Emotional intelligence essentially refers to the capacity to monitor one’s own and others emotions and being able to respond appropriately. Prof. Radhakrishnan elaborated on how this was essential in maintaining good relationships with coworkers and also for maintaining peak performance, in oneself and in those around.

The next day was centred around economic development and was led by Dr. V.P Singh who outlined certain basic economic concepts and connected them to current policy and events. He explained how controlling monetray supply can affect growth and inflation. The She Leads finalists spent a productive afternoon with the press after which Prof. Sridhar concluded the day with an enlightening session on financial planning. The session was extremely useful for a group of young women on the verge of starting their careers, as it pointed out the benefits of starting to save at an early age and of investing these savings in various places.

The last day started off early with Prof. Sridhar’s discussion on the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility. Later, Prof. Stephen Chinnaswamy conducted a session on team building wherein he spoke of the various facets of what it entails to be a leader. He strayed away from defining a leader as the stereotypical aggressive boss, and advocated a definition in which a leader was meant to be flexible, emotionally intelligent, and willing to make mistakes as long as they learned from those mistakes. He conducted activities that were designed to facilitate better understanding and was also able to use what he taught in order to answer the questions that the participants had prior to the session.

The workshop on the whole was a resounding success as the participants enjoyed interacting with the highly competent, experienced and skilled faculty all the while being exposed to new areas of skill and learning.