Women on women-A A +A
Sunday, January 27, 2013
WHEN all you’re preoccupied with is trying to maintain your balance for thirty-or-so long minutes while standing inside a cramped train, I guess there’s really not much to do but observe your fellow passengers, unnoticeably that is, as I’m sure most of them are doing the same thing.
I’ve always looked at public transportations as a microcosm of a bigger world. And in this particular instant, I think the trains are also a literally compartmentalized version of Vogue-Allure-Cosmo-Elle rolled into one. In a place where culture and religion has decreed the segregation of women when it comes to transportation and other public services, one gets used to seeing a lot of women from different walks of life all placed together in one area. So for that thirty-or-so long minutes, you simply observe each other, while desperately trying not to show it. Maybe it’s innate, maybe you’re just bored, but here’s the time you consciously or unconsciously make your impressions about the female species.
Research and polls have shown that the first thing women notice about other women is the size. Ouch! Yes. You notice how fat one is or how you could kill for that waistline that could fit inside a super skinny pair of jeans. Runners-up to this size appraisal is to take note of how much make up one applies to her face, followed by taking in each other’s hair style, smile, skin and spots, dress sense, the height, hair roots, complexion, footwear, length of skirt, jewelry, teeth color and alignment, nails—whether manicured or not, not to mention tattoos and how big one’s bumpers are. (I didn’t even breathe writing this list down.) Yes, all physical. Whether we like it or not, first impressions about us are being measured by purely superficial aspects.
Intentionally or not as well, we appraise other women like men do. We look at each other’s bums, compare figures, analyze each other’s fashion sense, and all those other things females are conscious of. Funny thing is that most are fully aware that other women are also observing them, sizing each other up.
This is the story inside a segregated women’s cable and it most probably applies to all other places where ladies are made to face the same sex. As based on the items listed above that women notice about other women when it comes to making impressions, we can deduce that women put a lot of pressure on each other. But then again, only if we allow it.
We go back to that little world inside the train. Women of all races, personalities, physical appearances and characteristics flock inside a small compartment that reflects a bigger lifestyle, fashion and intercultural world out there. For a dressed-down girl like me who feels most comfortable in my jeans, shirt and sneakers, I sometimes feel different in a place where women are dressed in their corporate best. Different, but definitely not insecure.
The standards we have unknowingly set for ourselves dictate the way we carry ourselves, the way we dress and the way we create the image we want to portray to other people. This instinctive judgment and appraisal we consciously or unconsciously do with other women has unknowingly put pressure on the images we want to be recognized as. We construct our reality based on these subtle standards that other women and various factors have impacted on us. What we see in the outside world, whether in magazines, television and even that little world inside a train compartment are the basis for self-comparison that in turn influence us in the way we build our images. We make snap judgments in the process because we read and watch too much body-negative magazines and shows. And the more we make these judgments about others and ourselves, the more we affect our own self-esteem.
In the end it’s our choice. We could choose to be influenced or not, pressured or not, or judge and be judged. But if we stress less about how we look, we could appreciate each other and ourselves more. And in that case, riding a train full of women would just be about balancing yourself and not being too conscious under the watchful eyes of all those other females.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 28, 2013.