I have a huge problem with the way girls and women are made to feel in this society. I'm taking a class called women's studies and body image because it interests me so much.
I like strong female characters in a book, and just as equally, I like strong male characters. Of course, not all your female characters will be strong; neither will your male characters. It's nice for both women and men, boys and girls, to read/watch/hear about strong female and male characters. The problem lies, perhaps, when genders make this a one-sided argument. Men deal with body image as well. I have many male friends who have told me so, but let me come back to the whole female body image thing--(because I cannot give you a male perspective).
When I was little, I use to pray God would make me pretty, because I didn't understand what beauty was, or what it was supposed to be. I fell victim (like many of us) to the imperfections of adolescences. I was quite...round, I had this horrible line of acne connecting my eyebrows, and more acne all over my forehead and chin. I was made fun of...and guess who made fun of me the worst? Girls. Girls who should stick together and defend each other’s beauty. I think that's why I hoped God would make me pretty.
Even though these girls made fun of me, I was somehow naive enough to try and be their friends. Yeah. haha. I never learned. These girls picked up a trait, however, that many girls/women share---being completely and utterly vicious when it comes to other girls and their appearances. I was at fault for this for a while. It stopped one day after something my Daddy said. I made a comment about a woman on the cover of a magazine (like People, or something or other)--something about how she wasn't all that pretty to be in the 1st slot for 'most beautiful people', and Daddy said, "She's not there because of her looks, it's because of all the good things she did."
My outlook on beauty is so different now. I try to base everything on personality, on what is on the inside, like all those children's books I read when I was younger, (and like my favorite Disney movie teaches you--Beauty and the Beast). This process is hard, because human nature is difficult to deal with. What's sad is you still have to face the unconfident girls who, maybe without meaning so, will hurt your feelings and bring you down, because they feel threatened by you.
It's ridiculous especially from people who don't know you, but I get it all the time. If I have customers who are girls, they aren't as nice as their fellow male companions. And they seem to hate it more if the males are nice. haha. Yesterday, for instance, hardly any of the women who came through my line (who were around my age) said anything to me when I asked how they were.
Now, just because I can look at others and see their beauty, doesn't mean I can see it in myself. I focus on all my imperfections. I read once that looking at our reflection is like hearing our voice recorded---none of us like to hear ourselves, we think we sound awful.
Perhaps my problem stems from the years I was made fun of for my appearance. People also wanted to change me all the time--my hair was never right, my makeup was never right, neither were my clothes. Gets frustrating. It wasn't until my Junior year in High School when I finally got some positive feedback. You know those transformation movies? Like The Princess Diaries and such? Yeah. That was me, only I'm not secretly a princess.
Then people liked me. I was the same person, but I looked different. So people liked me. Now I'm in college, any time I critique my appearance, my boyfriend says, "You're perfect!" or "You're amazing!" (ALL THE TIME). lol. At some point, I'll believe him, right?
It's something I have to get used to. Even though it's taken well over a year, and I'm still not used to it.
My point is, no one--men nor women should have to 'get used to such a thing', we should grow up knowing we're all beautiful, no barrier between inside or out. Hopefully that's something we can get across in our books.