Instagram has strangely become like a soft porn site for the next generation of women. Pouts, looks of surprise, demure faces staring downwards, stretching sexily like no one is looking, doing cutesy jumps on the beach and looking like they don’t know how to cook an egg. A competition of “Look at me, look at me.” This trend of wanting to be desired, thought of as beautiful and as the ultimate in female submission is not only deeply worrying but totally gag worthy.
This pervasive Kardashian neediness does nothing for young women coming through the ranks, setting themselves up to out-tit, out-pout, out-skinny the next girl for the menial roles, because if you’re all of that then no one is going to take you seriously. If you have a brain you want to share then you need to show it. Not rely on cute, because as my granny used to say, “Cute doesn’t last”.
Yes, the need to be beautiful surrounds us still. Makeup contouring videos (as many of you know my view of the women’s curse of the internet), fashion and the catwalk humph way of walking where you kind of strut but saunter in a “I don’t care what you think but I am so beautiful, hey” kind of way. The nail industry, the Botox outbreak, waist trainers which are actually just girdles from the 50’s vastly improved thanks to lycra and NASA technology. The industry to make us feel better about ourselves.
No, I don’t think women shouldn’t celebrate their beauty because we are all of that – beautiful, mysterious, desirable just as we are. But if beauty, being desirable, is the only thing you put forward, as your asset, as your foundation, then you set yourself up for the need to be constantly validated because of it.
Young women don’t need to spend their early precious years comparing themselves with their peers, asking “Am I good enough?” or being obsessed with spiralling destructive questions such as “If only I did this” or “If I lose some more weight” or “If I have sex with him he will like me more”.
But there it is, this need to prance and primp, with rock hard bootys contoured to within an inch of their lives, eyebrows painted on perfectly like tamed caterpillars, bikinis which are just wedgies so old blokes can stare. Age, yes, it brings this cynicism to me in hard to swallow mouthfuls. The joy of coming out the other end of this insecure phase! Once we never thought we were good enough, to now where we couldn’t care less. We all reach a point, through our journey, where we know there are much more important things you need to be doing in this life.
But mums, I ask you to gently, point your daughter towards some young women who are validated by the things we need in our humanity. Teach them, tell them about;
- Samantha Kerr, Young Australian of the Year 2018, equality advocate and star player with the Matildas.
- Emma Gonzalez who is making her voice heard about gun reform in the US.
- Shukufa Tahiri who fled the Taliban with her family, and is now a volunteer and Policy Assistant at the Refugee Council of Australia.
- Caitlin Wood who is the first Australian woman to ever compete successfully on the European stage full-time in circuit racing.
- Elyse Fox whose blog Sad Girls Club supports mental health awareness in young women.
- Kamilaroi woman Cheree Toka working to develop a new Australian flag which celebrates our country’s indigenous culture.
There are many more out there, across the world, worrying less about the wrinkles you don’t have at 18 or 23 (or even 30 for that matter) and more about how important their voice, their participation and their influence is on this world.
While this spins and whirls around us as an unfortunate part of our culture, teach your sons about the depth of women, their ability to make things happen on a wide scale, their full range of emotion, their need to be heard, supported, considered equal.
There is no reality show which celebrates women in this deeply positive way but if we could move the superficiality of celebrity aside we are at least on the road to something more beneficial for our girls and for our world. In our quest to bring women forward we unfortunately must spend an inordinate amount of time making sure we don’t move backwards. But it’s worth it.