Sunio: Beauty and Fear

A TYPICAL woman finds joy in her make-up kit, moisturizers, and soft and shiny hair. I myself enjoy patting some powder on my face and painting my lips, then making sure my curls are in check. Some boys ask why we do it. Do we have someone to prettify for? It’s not always the case. For me, it’s just a simple case of self-indulgence. I want to look good for myself and feel good while looking at the mirror. To some, they take care of their "asset" to keep their self-esteem steady.

And so women invest for make-up, surgeries, and other cosmetic maintenances, as well as other efforts to keep themselves pretty. As how others say, tiis-ganda, just to achieve the look they desire. Most people, both men and women, have delicate ego and instinctively have the desire to be accepted, that’s why these efforts are understandable.

However, these efforts by women to doll themselves up take a wrong turn when their toils ironically start pointing a blade on the necks of their self-esteem.

In the status quo of this country, sexism is still at large. Traditional families pressure their daughters to act in supposed lady-like manners, wear certain clothes, and similar other traditional requirements for women, saying "babae ka pa naman," which imply that she is still chained to obligatory gender roles and stereotypes. They are burdened to "become women," despite already being one, no matter how they look.

And so, beauty products are there to the rescue. But instead of simply endorsing what their product can do to you, some marketing strategies introduce fear to their potential customers.

People will point your pimples out, or comment that your flabby belly is standing out, and that frizzy hair is such an embarrassment, or that other women are better and more preferable than you are– these are just some of the narratives beauty products marketing use to prey on women through their fear. It makes people talk about one another’s insecurities and weaknesses – so you have to use their products to solve your problems.

This is where the harms of these kinds of selling campaigns come in: They sell products with narratives that the woman will be mocked, ridiculed, or shunned if they remain the way they are. The way they sell involves threatening their womanhood.

Who doesn’t hate having pimples or would prefer a more manageable hair? There’s no problem with women wanting to solve these issues – except that the method the market uses to make her solve her blemishes is by eliciting fear in their potential buyers.

These marketing tactics involve the exploitation of women’s fear by taking advantage of their fragile ego. Consequences are impressed on them if, for example, they have too many pimples, or that they are ‘ugly’, which means that they do not conform to the beauty standards of the world. They are told that if they do not solve these issues about their appearance, or if they do not use the products, they risk to be ostracized by the public and stand to be embarrassed among them.

These fear-mongering tactics have already been under fire for years now because of how it demoralizes women. It poses risks such as the increasing standards of the society for beauty, dichotomizing people between "beautiful" and "ugly", and increasing the gap between these two false labeled. Unfortunately, these strategies still persist, almost everywhere, including the household.

Subconsciously, women no longer try to become pretty or keep up a decent appearance for self-gratification, but in fear of losing their identity.

What’s worse is the harms that these tactics bring is not only limited to target product users. This often ripples to the public’s change of beliefs, attitudes, and total mindset of the society for beauty standards and acceptance. This often results to the isolation those who cannot meet the standards, making most women immobile, especially in the light of bandwagoning. For example, a study revealed that ‘beautiful’ women are more likely to be hired, and this may even be despite another candidate’s qualifications.

Those who cannot stand the pressure and already have poor sense of self-worth increase standards for themselves and therefore may vainly struggle to reach "true beauty" in hopes to be rescued from the society’s persecutions and their personal insecurities – or at least, lessen them.

If television portrays the embarrassment of those who suffer from cystic pimples, then markets that they should buy this product to get rid of their problems, chances are, society will also follow the impetus: to laugh at or shun those who are suffering from skin problems or simply frizzy hair. Incidents like these often fuel bullying.

And so, all these consequences impressed on women results then results to the endlessly vain pursuit of beauty in order to just no longer catch someone’s attention, but to save her ego and keep the foreseen repercussions at bay.

The act of hurting women is not just in the form of using fists of whips against them, but has already extended to injuring her self-esteem.We burden women more of keeping up a literal appearance, or else, they do not qualify to be women at all, as influenced to us by oppressive media messages.

There is no problem with women wanting to beautify themselves – no matter the extent – just as long as she is happy with her choice and her reasons, then results to the boosting of her morale, not because she is driven by ill pressure because of the society’s slanted appraisal of her appearance.
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