Body image and body positivity · Self-love · Social media · Women's issues

On Attacking Women’s Appearances & Fighting Back

A heart-shaped broken mirror against a red background.
Shattered reflection.
Photo credit: “Broken Heart” by Alexander Boden. Used under CC BY-SA 2.0.

It’s never been a secret that some people love to put women down and in specific ways, just because they’re women. It happens online and off. And most of the time, these people formulate their abuse towards women on the most important (sarcasm) thing about them: their appearance!

It happens at school, work and in the media — social or otherwise. Even certain major political figures in the Western hemisphere have been in the news for doing it. It’s almost like there’s a silent, universal rule on how to deal with women who say, do, or exist in ways you don’t like: Attack what they look like saying/doing/being the things you dislike, probably make obscene comments about their sexuality too, and for bonus points, round off the job with a few expletives.

I’ve seen this in various forms, and I know you have too. It’s ugly, repetitive, and of course, terrible for the self-esteem. If cross-culturally, women are conditioned to believe that having good looks is the leg up they need to do well in life and a mean-spirited person wants to break one down by telling her she lacks in that front, it’s going to work.

It shouldn’t be that way. So in true, gal-pal, Tesneem’s Corner style, I am going to reiterate that this is all tosh and fight more in your corner by showing you ways to push back against all of it.

For starters, let’s do some inner work.

No matter what you’ve been told about where your value as a woman lies, it isn’t in your appearance. You’re a whole person, complete with her own strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, and feelings. You are not just your shell — because that’s what your appearance is, your shell (or your skin suit, whatever you want to call it). You need to start believing that.

Spend time exploring your inner workings. What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up? What do you stand for? It’s never too late to get to know yourself and value her. And you can do this again and again. We forget what we’re made of sometimes, so a nice reminder and even a friendly kick to get us going won’t do us any harm.

Choose to see yourself from the perspective of who you are instead of what you are. Do this every day, and build your identity around that. When you’re secure in yourself, whatever goes on outside of you shakes you less. That includes snide remarks, back-handed compliments and even personal appearance changes that make you feel uncomfortable.

We can’t always control these things or other things that happen to us, but our reaction to them makes a massive difference.

I am not saying that you’re now going to be shielded with a force field that protects you from all distress (and oh do I wish for one!) but hopefully, you’ll grow more resilient and come through the rougher times like the brave person you can be.

It’s also a very good idea to evaluate the places from where you’re most likely to receive harmful messages about your self-worth. Is it social media? The newspapers and magazines from your local newsagent? Conversations with friends?

When you get an idea, start taking steps to limit your exposure to them. You can unfollow those accounts, stop buying those magazines, rip the unnecessary pages from the morning paper, or tell your friends why you don’t like the conversation and change the subject. Whatever it is you have to do, do it.

Now for the outer stuff.

I’ve always believed that what we project on the outside has a strong, bi-directional relationship with what is going on on the inside. How we act isn’t just reflective of our beliefs and feelings, it influences them as well.

We need to pay attention. We’re working on resisting negative messages and seeing ourselves as complete, three-dimensional beings who aren’t just their appearance, yes? So we need to start seeing other women the same way. We are not competitors in some daily, universal, beauty pageant where we have to tear each other apart to win, so we need to act like it.

The more we act on what we learn, the more it has a chance of becoming ingrained in us.

In fact, let’s go a step further and encourage other women to see themselves that way and work together on holistically building true, positive, self and body images.

The take-home message?

The voices that say cruel things about our self-worth can feel deafening, and the messages they send can pierce through our hearts. But we can start muffling them because the work starts within.

And to those that still persist, we, all types of women from everywhere, are just going to let you know that we don’t care. Because change.

Listicles · Self-love · Social media

4 Ways To Keep Your Cool As An Opinionated Person On Social Media

7 wooden spoons in front of a black background. Each spoon has a social media handle on it placed on powder matching the handle's dominant colour. A spoon with red powder has the Pintrest logo placed on it, another with orange power for RSS, yellow for Snapchat, green for Vine, light blue for Twitter, dark blue for Facebook, and purple for Instagram

For many of us, social media isn’t just used to connect with friends and colleagues across the globe, it’s also our platform of choice when we want to make ourselves heard. While it can be good to express ourselves and hear from people who think differently, sometimes it can get a bit heated. So from one opinionated person to another, here are some tips to make for smoother, less temperamental sailing on the interwebs:

1. Think before you speak — really

Being behind a screen means that you can actually buy yourself time to carefully think about what you want to say! This means that you have more of an opportunity to think of how you can communicate your message in the best tone and style possible. You also have more time to understand what someone actually means to say.

Not only are you then more likely to express yourself clearly, but you’ll also have time to cool off if someone writes something that really bugs you. This means that you will minimise the chance that you will say something you will regret, and that’s good because you probably don’t want to write paragraphs apologising for going on a rampage and/or explaining how you were misunderstood. Which brings me to the next point…

2. Be clear

Dr Suess made a good point when he said “say what you mean, and mean what you say,” and it’s totally relevant for social media, and the internet in general. It’s hard as it is always nailing what people mean when they speak to us face to face, let alone with the added difficulty of not being able to rely on physical cues or tone of voice.

Although we cannot always avoid misunderstanding — and as a result, conflict — we can do our part by wording our messages as clearly as we can to minimise the chances of any of those things happening.

3. Avoid subtweeting, subposting or subanything-ing

Subtweeting, or subposting in any other social media platform, is the act of posting something (usually negative) alluding to a particular person, but without mentioning their name. Don’t do it, and don’t engage when someone else does.

Not only does it look juvenile and petty, but it doesn’t solve the problem you have with the person. Trust me on this one. All you will probably accomplish is attracting a gaggle of negative comments that fuel the frustration you are already feeling. It’s wasted energy that comes at the expense of your inner peace; and nothing is worth that, even if you have a point.

4. Walk away

You can’t control or change what everyone is saying or doing, but you can control how much you let it affect you. Not only are you free to decide what you want to engage with, but also how much you engage with it. Just because there’s an impassioned debate about something you care or know a lot about, it doesn’t mean you need to stay in it until it ends with your word.

It’s also perfectly okay to decide what you don’t want to see at all in the first place, and hide content you find inflammatory or even distressing. You are also well within your rights to mute/unfollow the well-meaning relative/friend who insists on posting misinformation to show “an alternative point of view”. People will believe and think what they want, and your self-care comes first.

What tips do you have for more AND less opinionated people on social media? Share them in the comments!

 

 

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