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Beauty: so many moulds

We judge what is attractive according to what popular culture says is the 'in' thing. What informs this popular culture though? Does it do more harm than good?

Lopsided

'I can’t date a woman who doesn’t have a thigh gap*.'

We’ve all heard this, or some variation of this: a disqualification of women based on some physical trait that they have little to no control over. 

Does this happen to men as well? No doubt, but it is safe to say that it happens much more to women. Physical appearance and the need to change it to meet popular beauty standards isn’t really a major issue for men. In fact, for the longest time a rougher, more unkempt look was seen as more masculine. A potbelly was seen as a sign of wealth and opulence. A balding head was seen as a sign of ageing gracefully.
Not so for women.

Why do we need thigh gaps?

It’s strange that foreign standards of beauty have become that prevalent here in Kenya. Most people, when you ask them about it, don’t really care about the phenomenon.

Five to ten years ago, most people couldn’t have told you what a thigh gap was, or what it does.

Yet it still found a way to become this thing we can’t live without. For a while at least, before the next beauty standard comes along.

While popular culture does tend to become mainstream in places much further than they originated, it’s still odd that something so foreign becomes such a big deal. It’s almost like we forget what we looked for before, what we loved before…

Do men have a say in this? Men also seem to be fascinated with this mythical thigh gap… Or are they? Do we even know what the gap does? Do men need to have it as well? Do we get to dictate what is beautiful in other people who are in our dating pool? We like what we like, no doubt. What we like shouldn’t suddenly become pushed onto the world as the acceptable norm though.

This just leaves you unfulfilled, anyone you’d be trying to date or sleep with angry and frustrated, and sets the overall dynamic back a long way.

Different is good

We should also be wary of trying to make beauty standards of different demographics the norm in different cultures. Thigh gaps may be seen as beautiful in the US or Europe, but not so in Kenya or Africa. It’s the same way fuller lips are the norm in some places but not the other. This forcing of standards onto other people serves to make some people feel superior to others, and makes other people use time, energy, and resources in the search for traits that ultimately have no benefit to their well being.

Women are beautiful for different reasons. We should celebrate all these reasons, not want there to be a one-size-fits-all. It would surely have the hype brigade disappointed and wanting to push a new beauty standard onto people. So the next time you want to call out what someone doesn’t have… Take a step back and look at what someone does have. You’ll be surprised how much you’ve been missing.

*if there's a space between your thighs when you stand with your feet touching, you have a thigh gap

What are some beauty standards you think are overrated? Leave a comment below or on Facebook. And don't ever forget – you are beautiful!

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