On Beauty and Other Female Burdens

2 out of 100 women think they are beautiful. The rest of us look at the mirror and destroy our reflection with bitter thoughts and temporary deformations. We pinch, we pull, we slap, and we don’t stop until each square centimeter of our bodies has been made into an abandoned battlefield, all scars and wrinkles, bumps and holes. We don’t need to be old to realize we decompose day by day, or that we were born messed up.

Magazines are no longer a source of information for women, but one of the many reasons to be eternally unhappy. Managing a ridiculous double standard, they comfort us with disgusting facts about all those wretched creatures who have made their lives slightly more miserable than ours through fasting and misled surgeries. The world should accept women just the way they are, they say, and yet the next article babbles about how fashion designers have imposed new beauty canons which cannot be followed but through a violent reaccomodation of body parts. Thus, bellies and hips are emptied from their contents like sacks full of soup. Imperfection, or rather the sum of all the little details that make us different from one another, is totally unacceptable. It’s only with the aid of that nose and those breasts that a woman can succeed in life, according to the mass media. Fashion models, singers, and actresses (who could be blended into one single category) have become our new role models, known and loved by everyone. Their recipe for success includes a spectacular body, flawless skin, and a face with the exact proportions to be likeable. Talent itself is not enough anymore. If you have talent and money, but you lack the looks, you will eventually change to fit our world’s standards.

As a result of this massive alienation, women have come to think of ourselves as being not perfect enough to deserve success in life. The obvious beauty-for-success pattern leaves us with no other chance but to hope for nothing. “If I can’t change to be like them, there is no place in the world for me.” Therefore, hoards of women rush into plastic surgeons’ offices to look for help: “please make me like her” —as if someone’s appearance were a luck charm. This is already permeating into the male world: young men looking to become Brad Pitt in order to be as popular as he is. Results tend to be a disaster, of course. And surgery is not the only apparent solution to the ugliness issues: anorexia and bulimia reveal not only an urge to be beautiful, but self-punishment for an imperfect body. the race for acceptance deviates into a path of horror where nothing is good enough anymore; the victim is convinced that the sole possession of flesh is a sign of weakness, and that enduring the pain is a way of purification.

There is no way to make people understand that beauty in the real world differs so much from what we have been taught. However, being fashion a bridge between the entertainment world and our world, problems emerge. No matter how much we try to evade it, we will find frustration in issues such as brands not having clothes in our size, or certain clothes being designed to be worn only by skinny people. If we can’t be glamorous, there is no chance to be seen, some may think, but one can go around in life with clothes which are not the latest trend yet enhance what we have (and yes, we all have our special something). If a brand does not cater to our needs, we shouldn’t suffer, just look for another brand. Also, some tend to blame men for bringing the love of models into the real world, for their choosing socially accepted beauties to be their mates, but maybe if they look a little closer they will find that not all members of the opposite sex are that shallow. After all, we are not exactly striving to be public objects of desire, are we?

We should reevaluate our role as women in society and understand that life is not what’s portrayed in romantic comedies. It is not a matter of luring everyone into our spiderweb trying to steal an identity which is ultimately hollow and belonging to nobody: it is a matter of seeing ourselves as individuals and building an identity which makes us stand out. Every mole, every wrinkle, every clumsy step we take is part of this identity, and it is what someone (maybe more than one) will point as beautiful. Strength is what we need in order not to fall into the very wrong idea that people will love us only if we emulate someone else. The mirror should not be our enemy, but the reflection of a canvas to embellish and enhance what we already have. Perfection is a lie, beauty is an everyday reality to be discovered.

Breathing Black

The scent of ashes cannot be removed from this house. Soft voices break the silence gently, like a boat on thin ice, like an echo in Antarctica. The urge to strike these keys has hindered my sleeping, thus leaving me here, with the invisible coal and the music. There is so much to miss right now…

If only one of you were here to comfort me, to remind me of the sweetness of rendezvous. However, how can anything be not sweet when one has been chewing on bitter roots all day long? I definitely need to sleep and forget, but my bed faces a window, and tomorrow’s morning sky will be as deep and empty as today’s. The streets are full of new faces, but the fact is I don’t need new acquaintances when I’ve seen so much through your eyes; I retrace your steps and wish I had said this or avoided that absent glance which had left you so puzzled the other day —It was such a sunny day and our conversation seems to have worn out along with that pair of shoes I was wearing —And I wish I had held your hand into the bright sidewalk and told you Point anywhere and I’ll take you there and left you so many more memories than you actually possess—

Your eyes stare at me from that frozen instant, and my arms hurt from all the ungiven hugs, my lips ache yearning for kisses left to decay in the wind… and I realize this loneliness cannot but grow, engulfing what’s left of my crumbling heart.