After 36 hours of traveling, I finally made it back to Beijing. Although I am on a different continent, I never escaped the patriarchy and all the sexist remarks women face on a daily basis, even from my own family.
Don’t get my wrong. I am so excited to reunite with my family and friends after two months. However, I am bothered by how I am constantly greeted with comments of my body. All the deprecatory comments about my weight and the way my body looks reaffirmed how “socially acceptable” it has become for others, especially men, to make these comments with impunity.
Yesterday on my cab ride home, the taxi driver pointed at this woman crossing the street and said to me, “Her thighs are literally the same size as my waist!” and looked at me seeking approval. The whole situation made me extremely uncomfortable but I didn’t say anything or call him out.
There is an unreasonable and unattainable standard for beauty created by our patriarchal society that women are subjected to from the cradle onward. As a society, we promote the idea that women’s bodies are works of art and can be commented on by any spectator who happens to like or dislike what they see, men and women alike. Every time we comment on a woman’s “belly fat,” “flat chest,” “thigh gap,” we are contributing to a vicious culture that values women for the size of their jeans instead of their content. One might say, we also comment on men’s appearances, which is true. Nevertheless, women’s bodies are way more scrutinized than men’s. For example, our society is so caught up with this unrealistic beauty standard that tabloids obsess over female celebrities’ perceived weight gain, cellulite, and stretch marks. The media focuses on female politician’s clothing choices and appearance almost as often as their actual politics, which is very evident in our last presidential election.
As a society, we need to stop body shaming. We all need to make it socially unacceptable to comment on women’s bodies. Resist the urge to scrutinize women’s bodies in the way we’ve been taught by the patriarchal system. Remember that a person is so much more than a body. A person is human and lives with all sorts of troubles and pain and beauty that you can’t even begin to imagine. Last but not least, remind yourself that you are so much more than a body, and that judging yourself or others only fosters more fear, hatred and insecurity.