Sept 28 2017
by Khayelihle Moyo
Artificial butts $15; Artificial hips $12; Butt lifts $10…so read the advertisement, each product accompanied by vivid pictures. Just earlier, I had come across a video which showed how a model was transformed into an enviable Barbie through drastic ‘photoshopping’ (http://www.upworthy.com/see-why-we-have-an-absolutely-ridiculous-standard-of-beauty-in-just-37-seconds?g=2&c=reccon1 ). Her eyes, breasts, skin, thighs, legs (nearly everything) were edited to create beauty.
On a daily basis we are exposed to various forms of media that dictate standards of beauty. Additionally, I constantly come across women who bleach themselves beyond recognition; young girls wearing make-up by the boatload; ‘entrepreneurs’ who sell breast, hip and butt enlargement creams, soaps and all sorts of concoctions that create beauty.
I say create beauty because it seems that being my natural self does not suffice or qualify to be called beautiful. Do not get me wrong, I’m not implying that you ditch hair extensions and rock tight, kinky mfushwa curls, or throw out your make-up kit, which is what most people immediately think about when we refer to natural beauty. What concerns me most is the great emphasis we place on physical appearance.
Images of sexy are constantly revolving and like lost sheep, we just conform and go to extreme lengths to fit into the ideal. Currently #thick_yellow bone is trending and this is why we have resorted to absurdities that involve wearing pamper-like tights to create an hour-glass illusion.
This obsession with the physical form is both contagious and endemic. I see so many of my fellow African sisters spending so much time and money on their looks. There’s nothing wrong with looking good, but we have developed unhealthy habits. It scares me to think that I too may be developing a fixation of sorts. I stand on the bathroom scale every other day. I try to eat as much as possible to put on weight and disappointingly, I seek validation from people by asking “Am I pretty/beautiful?” This is pretty ironic, because I preach the gospel of inner beauty and believe that the treasure within us is by far the most valuable asset we can ever possess.
We may say we look fly, fresh, dope. However, when the twenty layers of make-up, butt lifts and designer clothes are stripped off, what are we left with? Are we comfortable with the realest, deepest most natural part of ourselves? Do we even recognise it? Who are we?