Today’s Ideal Woman

12

As much as we value activism and causes, and fresh ideas and creativity – do we sometimes forget that the end does not justify the means?

I was having lunch with friends the other day when talk of the new facebook status trend came up. Since I don’t have FB, I didn’t know what they were talking about, but apparently there is this new thing going around where women put a single colour in their FB status to indicate what the colour of their undergarment is. It’s supposed to raise awareness for Breast Cancer research.

How exactly it does that – I do not know. I mean, tell me a sad story about a woman struggling with breast cancer, and I will be more likely to donate to the cause than to know what colour bra the most random girl is wearing. In fact, that might just turn me away.

In fact, it did.

It was after hearing this that I realized how everything is becoming so overtly sexual lately. Need to sell a product? Put a woman on the cover. Need to raise money? Put a woman on the cover. Need to market a SALAD?? YES, BY ALL MEANS, SHOW A WOMAN ROLLING AROUND IN BED.

And it seems that coinciding with all this, women everywhere are declaring even more, We are free! We are not objects! You know, saying something over and over again doesn’t make it true, ladies. It sounds more like an oxymoron to me, no?

It seems that nowadays, women have to completely bare themselves in order to be accepted. If they are not half-falling out out of their clothes, then they are not attractive. If they are not caked with make-up, then they are not pretty. If they do not have enough of a swagger when they walk, how will any man pay attention to them? What more could better explain this than the example of stores who do not hire people unless they look the part? Because of course, if they are too ugly, then products won’t sell. Simple math. Even products that have absolutely nothing to do with women, like Gillette razors or microwaveable food commercials, will often show a woman in next-to-nothing to pique the consumers’ interest.

When my family moved to a new area when I was in Grade 7, I had a really hard time adjusting at my new school. I was so used to being well-liked by both friends and teachers at my old one, that it was difficult to get accustomed to a school where the majority of the students were one race and the teachers were downright pathetic. In recess, the guys and girls used to play a game at the back of the class where the girls would have to move their hand slowly across the guys’ body, while the guy had to compose himself and not -get “excited.” They asked me to join, and while on the outside I politely declined, on the inside I was all H-E-L-L TO THE NO. Even though I wasn’t a hijabi then, nor was I really practicing, I knew I would never stoop to something so demeaning.

Then there was this other thing they used to do, where the names of all the girls in the class was written down on a piece of paper, and in a column at the top, the headings face, hair, boobs, and butt were written across. All the guys would then rate each girl between a 1-10 in each of the categories, sort of like, you know, how you rate OBJECTS on a LIST? Remember this is GRADE 7, people, when you are JUST TURNING 13. The reality is that sex is introduced from such a young age through the media and from pressure in schools that by the time children become teenagers, it is so ingrained into their heads that a guy must be a certain way to be attractive, and especially, a girl should be like this. My cousin was just telling me that the girls in her class were making fun of her because she wasn’t wearing skinny jeans like how Hannah Montana does. She is in Grade 2.

Even when I began wearing the hijab in the end of my high school years, I was no longer leered at, talked to inappropriately, or touched inappropriately; all of which happened before. And while it was still a hard process to go through, I felt calm on the inside knowing that I no longer had to worry about how tight and low-cut my shirt had to be, or how un-frizzed my hair were, because I would not need to impress anyone anymore. I would not have to live up to impossible-to-reach standards of today’s ideal woman.

On the topic of women covering up and dressing modestly in Islam, I’ve heard both non-Muslims and Muslims alike use the excuse that “men are not animals”, and that it’s not like they are going to attack the woman who is not covered properly. Yet to me, the man who needs a picture of a half-naked woman advertised to him in order to buy a product, is the real animal.

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This post originally appeared on Diary of a Muslim Girl.

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