Monday, August 16, 2010

More Thought Provoking Comments, Gender and Gandhi

Some really interesting comments posted about yesterday's blog entry really got me thinking. Do men receive as much unsolicited advice or criticism about their appearance as we women do? Aside from the fact that long hair on men is still not completely socially acceptable, it's unlikely that many men hear many of the comments that we women hear. And frankly, I realized that in my case at least, most of the comments are from women.

Cut your hair, grow it a little. Colour your hair, go natural. Wear some makeup, wear less makeup. Your hair is so curly, you should straighten it. Your hair is so straight, why not get a perm? Ooh, you have a pot belly now. Better hit the gym or go on a diet.  I wonder sometimes how we women have any self-esteem at all.

Agnes, you are correct that so often unsolicited advice has to do with age. It doesn't matter if you're 20 years old or 50 years old; it seems as though age is so often a factor in the "helpful advice" that is given to us. I know it has been for me, since I was a teen.

Men seem to have free license to grow older without being told to change. With the exception of men who have hair that is "too long" for our society, or men who are in the military, I doubt that many men are told what style of hair to wear.

They aren't told to colour their hair when it starts to grey. In fact men are often told how distinguished they look.

They can have a bit of a belly, and walk around shirtless with ease in the summer.

They don't have to decide whether or not to wear makeup and if so, how much is appropriate?

I realize that while advertising, most media and business are largely driven by men, it is we women who are allowing ourselves to buy into the idea that we have to look a certain way in order to be acceptable.

Why is it that we don't support one another's personal preferences more? Why don't we see one another as entire human beings with unique personalities and senses of personal style? Why are young women in their '30s getting plastic surgery on their faces over 40 years after the women's movement became mainstream?

While in many ways we have made huge strides as women in the workforce and in other areas of life, it still seems as though we allow ourselves to be stifled or we attempt to stifle others.

It doesn't make sense.

As regards the age issue, I find it interesting that in my own life, I only really became comfortable in my own skin after I hit the age of 40.

It seems as though I had been someone's daughter, then someone's wife and then someone's mother.  While at the age of 40 I was still all of those, I finally started to have a bit of time to find out just who I am myself. I don't think I appreciated many of my positive qualities as a younger woman, and as a young mother, I pretty much didn't think about anything at all other than my children.

I can tell you with all sincerity that even though I had a nice figure and a 24 inch waist in my 20s, and I'm about 30 pounds heavier today, and 24 inches was several inches ago, I am much more happy with my face and body than I ever was as a young woman.

I don't know how or why  it happened, but as I came to discover the person I really am, I started to love myself just the way I am, spiritually, mentally and physically.

So I think that aging is in so many ways such a blessing. Yes, there are some downsides, but the good stuff is really good.

Perhaps it's really time for us to reassess how we interact with other women and really try to support one another in life rather than subtly or not so subtly knocking one another down.

It is a daunting task, as our society isn't built that way right now, but one by one, we can all change it in little ways every day.

As Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world"

'Til tomorrow, my friends and much love to all of you. Thank you so much for giving me so much food for thought.


  1. Hi Franny,
    This post is SO beautifully said!

  2. Franny, I love reading your posts. A food for thought they really are!

    It really seems people nowdays are too much under the influence of mass media. Lifestyle shows are, unfortunately, often on the air, and many people, women particularly, are swayed by the beauty industry. They feel they have to comform, which is a pity.
    I personally don't find make-up, hair coloring or whatever wrong, if the motives are right - that one is doing it because she likes it and makes her feel better. I like to do what I please, and I feel comfortable with myself.

    I can relate with unsolicited advice too. All of it is directed to my hair, mainly being "You should cut your hair" and "You could really dye your hair.". But I just shrug it off. Life is too short for conforming ;)

  3. I suspect I will go to my grave detesting who I am, internally, externally...Sad.

  4. I agree with you. We need to build each other up instead of tear each other down.

  5. I *loved* this post. You paint the years after 40 as something to look forward to, a beautiful age - and that is rare, that is very, very rare. Thank you.

  6. Oh, you should have seen the looks and heard the comments my boyfriend was getting when he was still having waist-long hair! I just could and can not understand how people can neglect every other aspect of a person just because their hair length is "wrong". And I assure you, he is immensely handsome, and his long blonde hair made him look simply mystical or like a warrior of sorts, not feminine or weird. But then again, we just have to tear down everything we don't understand. Hopefully more "understanding" times are coming, times when women won't have to comply to fashion that doesn't even fit their body build and when everyone will be able to wear their hair just as they like it, without being subjected to snide remarks.


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