Saturday, March 5, 2011

Beauty Survey Conclusion: A Wish

Forty women were surveyed about beauty. This blog explains the reasons for the survey (you can read all of the surveys beginning-to-end by clicking here).

Here are the seven questions that I asked in my survey of forty women:
1. When do you feel the most beautiful? Is it something you do or someone else?

2. What is the most extreme/silly/ridiculous thing you've done/bought/tried to attain beauty?

3. In your opinion, how important is it for you to look/feel attractive to your significant other? And, why is this important?

4. What does feeling unattractive or fat or ugly look like? Feel like? When does it happen and why?

5. Do you ever struggle with comparing yourself to other women? If so, how and why do you/we do this?

6. The "men are visual" mantra gets preached and sometimes pressures women into working hard at keeping their man interested and excuses promiscuity. How do you balance this with your other qualities and not let "being pretty" be your main goal?

7. Essentially, I want to know: How do you honor your beauty without letting it define who you are?

Here are some statistics:
A new study found that the average woman spends the equivalent of five days in front of the mirror each year. The survey of 1,000 females also found that in total women use enough lipstick each day to draw a line from London to New York, along with 880 gallons of foundation and more than 16 million sweeps of a mascara wand.

Forty percent of women reportedly claimed that they wouldn't leave the house without makeup, while nineteen percent would spend less on food rather than cut down on beauty products. And one in four women reportedly consider makeup an essential, not a luxury, while fifty-three percent of women said that the recession had not affected their beauty buying habits. According to the study, women splash out an average of $1,034.47 per year on beauty products, totaling more than $68,055.37 in a lifetime.

The average woman will spend 8 years of her life shopping.

A recent survey that looked at the dietary and lifestyle habits of 4,000 women, found that the typical woman will go on roughly two diets every year, with each diet lasting an average of five weeks, which adds up to 104 diets between the ages of 18 and 70 and a whopping total of roughly ten years spent dieting.

Over a lifetime, may women will spend 58.4 days removing unwanted body hair.

Dove conducted a worldwide survey that found only 2% of the world’s women describe themselves as “beautiful.”

What if the same women were asked, “What percentage of women in your life would you describe as ‘beautiful’?” That number would be much higher, like 80-90%. We often believe better of others than we do about ourselves. We also usually see others more clearly. The other 98% of women who do not think they are beautiful are being called beautiful by someone else.

For more links to some of these studies and others, check out the YWCA’s resource for “The Consequences of America’s Beauty Industry on Women & Girls.”

We have a beauty distortion epidemic on our hands. We’ve all been frustrated with the current status of “society,” “culture,” and “the media.” These are all abstract, ominous titles without a face. Who is “society”? Who is the dreaded “media”? I may never meet the people responsible for spreading garbage that becomes main stream, but I do know one thing, I can only control myself. I am part of society. So while it may feel small, my decisions can end up creating what we call “culture”.

Author G.K. Chesterton was once asked by The Times to contribute an essay answering this question: “What’s wrong with the world today?” He answered in two words: “I am.”

If I continue blaming the situation on “the media,” then I never have to take the blame. Gandhi had it right all along, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I wish to see more women calling themselves “beautiful,” because they are. So when people pay me compliments, I will not argue with them. I will say, “Thank you,” then I will believe them.

I wish to see women spending less money on beauty hoaxes and cheap thrills that will never: “Eliminate 10 pounds in 10 days!” or “Decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles instantly!” So I will stop buying them. I will challenge the belief that I need these things to feel beautiful. Because I don’t. I already am.

I wish to see greater acceptance for women of all sizes. We don’t spend years trying desperately to change our shoe size, why the infatuation with the number on the back of our jeans? So I will resist the urge to join the conversation when women start bashing their bodies.

I wish to see less unhealthy infatuation with the number on the scale. That number tells me nothing about my actual “health” and what I’m really looking for the scale to tell me is if I’ve been “good” or “bad.” Cancer doesn’t weigh more. Diabetes doesn’t either. Olympic athletes hover high above their “healthy” BMI because muscle weighs more than fat. So I will continue to avoid the scale to save my health.

I wish to see women who recognize that men are not animals. Men can control themselves. Women are not to blame for a man who abuses her. Women are not created to be merely entertainment or eye candy. So I will not pretend as if men don’t have choices and emotions just like I do.

I wish to see women who honor their beauty without letting it define who they are. So I will appreciate what I like about my appearance, and I will appreciate what I like about my spirit, knowing that these are both wonderful traits that make me: me.

Thanks to all the women who let me pick their brains on a somewhat sensitive topic.
Your courage inspires me and propels me forward.
With hope.


laSonya said...

thank you for these posts. you are helping me to see myself as beautiful. Thank you.