Editor’s Note: This month, that is July 2020, FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth is Feminism And Body Image, where we invite various articles about the diverse range of experiences which we often confront, with respect to our bodies in private or public spaces, or both. If you’d like to share your article, email us at email@example.com.
Posted by Nayantara Surendranath
The last two weeks have been a doozy.
What started out as a means to express how I viscerally felt about the “beauty” industry, slowly became a laborious and difficult exercise in research, learning, un-learning, and carefully considering my vacillating position on the subject.
I don’t know exactly how I feel even now. But I post this as an appeal. For myself and anyone else who may resonate with this.
How many of the choices we make as consumers are actually ours?
The beauty industry is constantly talking to us, and so many of these conversations contort our inner monologues…telling us that we need to be a lot more before we can feel ‘worthy’. Occasionally we see some brands do better, and others begin to make changes and improve, and while these movements are a good start, is it just me who’s thinking it’s way too slow?
We need to do a lot more and do it a hell of a lot faster to fix the damage that’s already been done, while also catching up to the damage for more and more people.
Growing up as a teenager in the early 2000s, I was consistently bombarded with the narrative that in order to look attractive, I had to fit a certain construct of beauty—a certain height, a certain weight, a certain colour, a certain breast size, etc.
Where do we get these ideas from?
Are we questioning our sources enough?
And more prudently, can we even question our sources at that age?
I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by strong women in my life (friends and family) who have constantly co-questioned these narratives with me and always encouraged a healthy dialogue around these ideas. I am still doing a lot of active unlearning to unpack certain notions about my body that seeped in and cemented themselves anyway. This makes me think about people (especially kids) who may not have had or won’t have the privilege of a sounding board and multiple perspectives in order to help them make sense of all the complexities of teenage life and living.
Can the cosmetic industry start having more wholesome, positive conversations with us through their products and ad campaigns?
Can their profits be borne not from lowering our self-worth, but I don’t know…anything else?!
Rather than capitalising on our fears and insecurities and our “flaws”, can the ad campaigns, the R&D departments, the manufacturers, the influencers, do better by us?
Because for starters, we’d like to buy products with a little more agency and joy and feel empowered through our investments and not walk out of a store feeling like we’re not enough!
Nayantara is an illustrator and visual designer based out of Pune, India. She graduated from Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology (Bangalore) in 2012 and has been working across the field of visual communication ever since. She uses her craft to tell relatable, witty and thought-provoking stories about mental health, gender, socio-cultural stereotypes and everyday life through the mediums of illustration, animation and short comics. Her style is vibrant, colourful, extremely detailed, and full of whimsy. She is also a children’s book illustrator – her work has been published internationally and awarded in South/South-East Asia and North America. In her free time, she juggles, bakes, dances, learns new skills and goes for long walks with her dog Cindy. You can find her on Instagram, Behance and Twitter.
Featured Image Source: Nayantara Surendranath