With society setting near-impossible beauty standards for women, the pressure felt by girls to conform has never been greater. And while they struggle every day to cope with this ordeal, consequences are rather alarming, as depicted by the 2017 Dove Global Girls Beauty and Confidence report — a comprehensive study conducted by Dove.
Azra Mahmood, famed choreographer and television presenter, was the moderator of the insightful event where this topic was discussed.
When enquired about her take-away from this entire session, she revealed, “The unnerving fact is that parents today are completely in the dark about what their young daughters are going through. While body shaming is nothing new, women of the previous generations did not have it as bad as generation X and millennials. As the guardians themselves are not used to this issue, they are struggling to find the appropriate methods to tackle the problem faced by their children.”
She further added that the struggle was partly due to the generation gap between parents and their children, preventing them from fully understanding the vicious cycle and its impact.
“Unlike adults,” Azra reiterated, “young girls are not mature enough to filter out the negativities inflicted by the society. Hence, in a world of social media, where everyone is free to express their opinions and beliefs, the effects are extremely scarring. As such, I think guardians need to be educated more on this issue than the girls themselves.”
As the conversation shifted towards what society can contribute to help women build their self-esteem, she responded —
“Changes never happen overnight. We need to understand and accept that everyone is unique and perfect in their own way. Society needs to accept this stance before they start projecting specific ideals of beauty. The social order merely consists of individuals and if we decide to make it a point to change our views for the better, the culture will automatically change.”
Having been subjected to unfair beauty standards herself, it is that very bitter experience that drives Azra to inspire young women into becoming more confident with who they are.
“I remind my students and co-workers that despite being told that I am not 'conventionally beautiful,' I am thriving in an industry that sells beauty. What they can take away from this statement is that no one needs to fit a predetermined definition of beauty to be attractive and confident.”
Letting us in on her secret to the confident and the radiant personality that she is today, Mahmood explained that perhaps it was the constant body shaming that helped her grow a wall against all kinds of negativity.
Photo: Rashed Shumon