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Women, Shopping and Beauty

That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty.  It’s like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste.     -John Green-

According to this article in Forbes magazine,  “…women are the most powerful consumers in the economy… driving 70-80% of all consumer purchases.”  The author explains that even though women don’t earn all the money, as caregivers they impact the decisions made on how it is spent.

If we’re doing most of the shopping, are women responsible for the environmental crisis?

Being a woman, it’s difficult to identify with that.  I primarily think of us as being a force for good.  We’re supposed to be nurturing, right?  When I see violent behaviors in the media, most of the time, it’s men who are the perpetrators.  I don’t want to offend men, but even my husband agrees that the world would be a better place if there were more women in charge.  And I don’t blame men per se.  For whatever reasons, society evolved this way.  The imbalance between the sexes is cultural, perhaps hormonal.  We haven’t yet outlived all the patriarchy that dominated our species, our societies.

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As women, are the eco-issues mostly our fault?  Maybe not.  As I’ve said before, our leaders have not been dealing with this problem.  In an economy where the Earth and life would come first, our consumerism wouldn’t have as negative an impact as it does.  We wouldn’t allow goods to be made cheaply or made to break down in order to get us to buy more.  We wouldn’t allow people to be exploited, our air, land and waterways to be polluted.  Manufacturing and transportation could be so much cleaner—that kind of technology is available.  But there is a bright side.  If we women really hold that much power in the economy, I am heartened.  I have faith in our goodness and in our nurturing natures.  We don’t all have to become minimalists tomorrow.  Paring down wherever we can, being frugal and avoiding waste will make a difference if we all contribute.  Awareness is key.

When I think of women and shopping, shoes, clothes and beauty products come to mind.  The clothes and shoes that we buy today aren’t necessarily made to last, and they are shipped in from halfway around the world.  And sometimes, because they are inexpensive, we buy many more than we need—because we can afford them!  Many beauty products have ingredients that are unnatural and potentially harmful to our health. Read the packaging, if they don’t mention cruelty-free, there’s a good chance that they are being tested on animals.  Look in your cosmetics drawer, how much stuff in there is actually being used?  How do you dispose of those containers?  Lots of them are not even recyclable.  I’m sure we can be more discerning when we buy these for ourselves or as gifts for others.

Moving Inwards

I think that we women need to appeal to the feminist in each of us and help shed overly superficial ideas of beauty.  Our leadership here is much needed, not only for young women but for young men as well.  A couple of generations ago, women asked to be liberated from being objectified.  Appearances too often determined a woman’s worth.  Women have been gaining ground in many domains, but unfortunately, the pressure to be outwardly attractive is as strong as ever.  Many women, and now men also, carry this burden.  Look at all those Instagram accounts devoted to superficial beauty!  Young people compare themselves to the often-unrealistic images they see in the media and conform to this idea of beauty, of worth.  And industry likes to keep us in lack-minded mode because it wants us to buy the cosmetics, the clothes and the surgeries that they are selling.  We are letting ourselves be manipulated!

In her book Daring GreatlyBrené Brown makes the argument that perfectionism holds us back.  I agree, especially when appearances are concerned.  Why can’t we be more accepting, more carefree about the way we groom, the way we dress?  We put so much pressure on ourselves in the process, so why keep it up?

I think that we want to be attractive because superficial beauty is a form of power.  Being physically attractive gives us a step up in life.  Studies have shown that good-looking people are more likely to be successful in business and sought after as a mate, among other things.  So of course, our egos buy into this form of power.  But should we really be indulging our egos?  I’d even go so far as to argue that in trying to enhance our beauty, we are competing with others, adopting the mindset that if we look better than the average Joe or Jill, we’ll have a better chance of getting what we want out of life.  And in doing so, we are raising the bar for other women and men as to standards of what we should look like.  If half of the elder women in our community get face lifts, the others who abstain are at a disadvantage, as far as looking younger is concerned.  Competition has its place.  But I argue that what the world now needs is much more collaboration.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could accept our bodies, our appearance?  Not judging others and not feeling judged?  Releasing the need for being outwardly attractive and focusing on being freer, being more loving, accepting and enlightened beings?

Superficial just isn’t working for us.  Looks, appearances, haven’t they contributed to getting us into this climate-changed, species-extinguished situation that we’re in?  Our need to have good-looking clothes, cars, houses and so on?  Beauty can be so much more.  Let us be inspired by kindness, by creativity, by frugality and by compassion for each other and for the Earth as we pursue less superficial forms of beauty.

Frida

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