Patriarchy and Body Image: A Look into Society's Impact on Women's Perception of Their Own Bodies
The relationship between the patriarchy and body image is complex, and it is crucial to understand the impact that societal norms and expectations can have on an individual's self-esteem and self-worth. The societal emphasis on conventional beauty standards, especially for women, has led to the normalization of harmful practices such as dieting, body shaming, and self-objectification. In this blog post, we'll delve into the intersections of patriarchy and body image, examining how these societal forces have influenced women's perceptions of their own bodies. To paint a more clear picture, 2/3 of women admit to hating their bodies, 3/5 teen girls struggle with disordered eating and 1/5 teens will go on to have a diagnosable eating disorder.
The Patriarchy and the beauty industry are intertwined in a number of ways. The beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that relies on women feeling insecure about their bodies, in order to sell them beauty products, diets and clothing. In patriarchal societies, women are expected to conform to conventional beauty standards, which typically involve having a thin, toned, and youthful appearance. This is where the beauty industry steps in, offering a range of products and services designed to help women achieve these impossible standards.
The Patriarchy has a significant impact on women's body image, as it reinforces conventional beauty standards and promotes the objectification of women's bodies. This can lead to internalized misogyny, where women begin to believe that their worth is based on their physical appearance, rather than their character, intelligence, or achievements. The constant pressure to conform to these standards can result in negative self-talk, low self-esteem, and a distorted body image.
Women are constantly bombarded with messages about conventional beauty standards, whether it's through advertisements, magazines, or social media. This constant exposure to unrealistic images of beauty can lead to feelings of inadequacy and a distorted body image. Additionally, the pressure to conform to these standards can result in harmful practices such as crash dieting, excessive exercise, and even disordered eating.
In patriarchal societies, women's bodies are often objectified and treated as commodities, rather than seen as whole individuals. This objectification is perpetuated by the beauty industry and the media, which often depicts women in sexualized or objectifying poses. This can lead to a distorted body image, as women are encouraged to view their bodies as objects to be admired and appraised, rather than as integral parts of themselves.
The most sad part of all is that many of the women that we work with believe that they are the problem. Part of our curriculum is to give them the tools to decondition themselves to the patriarchal programming that has been inherent in our society for centuries.
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! Your body is not an apology. There are capitalist and patriarchal forces at play that know exactly what they are doing. Why do they do it then? To keep us small, wounded and trapped in a self-deprecating cycle that leaves us pitted against other women and distracted.
These concepts prevent us from moving forward, from seeing our worth, from taking risks. We spend so much time throughout the day thinking about what we lack and how we can be better. What would you do with all that time if you loved yourself? I bet you would kick ass and live out your dreams.
The relationship between patriarchy and body image is complex and multi-faceted. Society's expectations and norms regarding beauty standards have a significant impact on women's perceptions of their own bodies. Patriarchy reinforces conventional beauty standards, promotes the objectification of women's bodies, and perpetuates negative self-talk and low self-esteem. THESE ALL KEEP US DOWN and contribute to the power imbalance that has been inherent for centuries. It is so important to challenge these societal forces and work towards creating a more inclusive and body-positive society, where women are valued for their character, intelligence, and achievements, rather than just their appearance.
How can men help change this toxic dynamic?
Challenging the status quo.
Educating themselves: Becoming knowledgeable about the harmful impacts of patriarchy and conventional beauty standards on women can help men understand the issue and become allies.
Speaking out against body shaming: Men can challenge harmful comments and attitudes towards women's bodies and promote body positivity.
Supporting women: Men can support women in their pursuit of self-acceptance and self-love by listening, being an ally, and encouraging body positivity.
Challenging media representation: Men can challenge media representation that perpetuates patriarchal beauty standards and objectification of women's bodies.
Promoting diversity: Men can advocate for diversity and inclusion in media representation, promoting body positivity for all individuals regardless of shape, size, or appearance.
Examining their own attitudes: Men can reflect on their own attitudes and beliefs about women's bodies and work to challenge any internalized patriarchal views.
Supporting the women in their life and challenging their own patriarchal bias (Yep, if you live in this society, you likely have them...)
What can those who identify as women do to challenge these toxic issues?
1. Embrace body positivity: Practicing self-love, self-acceptance, and body positivity can help counteract negative societal messages and improve self-esteem.
2. Challenge beauty standards: Questioning and rejecting societal beauty standards and promoting diversity and inclusivity can help challenge patriarchal views.
3. Support each other: Building a supportive community of women who uplift and encourage each other can counteract the negative effects of societal pressure.
4. Refuse to participate in harmful practices: Choosing not to engage in diets, body shaming, or self-objectification can challenge patriarchal views and promote body positivity.
5. Use media for activism: Utilizing social media and other platforms to spread body positive messages and advocate for change can help challenge patriarchal views and promote inclusivity.
6. Call out harmful behavior: Speaking out against harmful comments or behavior towards women's bodies, and advocating for body positivity can help create a more inclusive and body-positive society.
We shouldn't have to do any of this. We should be able to live full and happy lives free from the decrepitude of the patriarchy and the power differentials that are inherently at play. Unfortunately, these structures are so engrained in our society that if we don't take a stand and make change, we will remain stuck. Let's fight back and see what we can do!