What if equality with a man was found in the field of beauty and cosmetics? Can makeup and botox give women a voice? I often decry that the modeling industry makes women slaves to beauty. We idolize appearance. At least that’s the perception in the West, the one I’ve encountered. In the Eastern world, like India, it might just be the avenue for a woman’s liberty.
Watch the documentary “The World Before Her” on Netflix.
There is a young woman who wants to join the Hindu movement full time. (Different from the subgroup of women getting involved in pageantry… where a woman can actually attain equality with a man as stated in the introduction of the film. The Hindu movement is about discovering what it means to be a traditional woman in Hinduism, from what I could gather.) Her father says he will not allow it. He says her duty as a traditional woman is to get married, not train other girls about womanhood. The dad said that in order to be a woman you must become a mother. Childbearing, he claims, defines womanhood. A man can not give birth and so to show femininity, a woman is only truly woman upon delivering life. Understandably so, my blood boiled.
Call me a Westerner. Call me a progressive. Call me a feminist. Fine. I think those ideals are outdated and shouldn’t permeate any society, Western or Eastern. Perhaps the rally for women’s rights is something the West has done right! (I’m an advocate of gender equality, not superiority of either gender. I think a matriarchal society would be just as detrimental as a patriarchal one. I think it needs to be complimentary…men and women equal based on individual strengths and weaknesses. Weakness…something that another fundamentalist in the film says characterizes women…*I beat my fist on the table*)
Many men there (India) silence women by forcing them into marriages, forbidding divorce (even in cases of severe physical abuse), allowing marital rape, and shutting women in the home not allowing them to leave home without permission. It is mostly men who protest pageants in India. Women are property there, as evidenced by their old-world values of women remaining inside the home and quiet. When a man propagates patriarchy and male supremacy, I become infuriated. This man said his daughter had to do her duty of marriage and motherhood.
How does a culture like this accept infertility?
Watching another documentary, one about gendercide in India and China, I heard that infertility is often met with shame. A woman who is not able to produce heirs is often beaten. If she produces a girl she is mutilated, ordered to have abortions, and abused. Sometimes a man is permitted to divorce his wife if she is unable to produce children, especially if she can not provide a male heir. I may feel inadequate because American society perpetuates a notion that family means you have children, but I’ve never encountered abuse or outright ridicule because I’ve been unable to produce offspring. Wow, I should be grateful for some parts of our Western culture.
I’ve always said that when we have children I don’t want appearance to be a large focus. Our children need to know their identity as children of God—boys or girls, athletes or nerds, extroverts or introverts- submitted to glorifying him. However, I don’t think they should hide their beauty. If they humbly accentuate it (which is possible but I’m not sure how that looks quite yet) they can use beauty to glorify God and find freedom in being content in the way their body looks.
Being a Pretty Woman has given Indian women voices to their personality.
I can only hope that our children will find the right expression of beauty that will permit freedom and comfort in their skin but not enslave them to appearance and approval addiction. I can only pray that our child will have the balance of East and West…a sense of citizenship that is other worldly…