THE SADES AND LATIFAS OF THIS WORLD
Sade has a routine. Every morning, she takes a cursory glance at the mirror. A glance, just long enough to ascertain that her hair is neatly packed, her dress is not creased, and that her shoes are the right match for the dress. A cursory glance because if she stared long enough at the mirror, she would see, and be reminded once more of the little flaws which make up a whole body of imperfection.
Every morning Sade takes a cursory glance at the mirror, never more than a glance. Still, she is reminded of Latifa’s words, “your face is oddly rectangular, you’d be pretty if it were oblong”. Every morning, she follows the established routine and wills her face to be oblong, like the exquisite Victoria Beckham’s, but for months and years unending Sade’s face remains “oddly rectangular”.
I am a Sade. Every other day, I beat myself up for my inability to attain physical perfection. Some days, I stand in front of the mirror and wish my face were diamond-shaped. On other days, my lips become the object of scrutiny, such that after much introspection, I conclude that my lips do not have the perfect mix of demure and sexy which I earnestly covet. My first instinct when I take a picture of myself is to blur out the bags under my eye and to hide any acne. God forbid I am caught posting a full image of my scrawny self. Am I even woman enough, if I am not voluptuous?
The truth remains that Sades abound amongst us in today’s society. Some of the insecurities I battle today are aftermaths of frivolous observations made by the many Latifas of this world. I think it makes no sense to run a commentary on something as fixed as a person’s body. The place of kindness can also never be overemphasized. To the Latifas of this world, I say if you do not have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. However, I worry that with the Latifas of this world, we can only try because as they say, you can force a donkey to the river, but you can’t force it to drink.
Who made Victoria Beckham the standard? Who certified light-skinned girls the standard? Who pronounced a certain body size and type the standard? I think a lot of us, Sades and Latifas inclusive, have become accustomed to the unrealistic standards of beauty set by society. The culture of over-editing photos of naturally beautiful women to transform them into an unrealistic level of stunning places immense pressure on women, making them insecure about their bodies. My two cents on the topic of beauty remain that the concept of perfection is in itself flawed.
A woman’s worth should never be tied to her appearance. While we often cannot make any drastic, long-term yet healthy change to our physical appearance, I believe character, values, skills, personality and achievements are attributes that can be changed and developed. I believe that authenticity in itself is beautiful. There is nothing as beautiful as a woman who is aware of who she is and embraces it. Finally, I am a firm believer in the concept of inner beauty. I believe that true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.