Everyone has something that makes them feel insecure and hence, try their best to hide it. But some are more so because of how we have been conditioned by society. Across various cultures and countries, women are often controlled and still subjected to scrutiny and the rules of patriarchy. While many may blame men for creating many of these problems, the harsh truth is that the patriarchy is also propagated by other women out there. You will have your own aunt coming up to you and telling you that your shorts will “attract too much attention”. Or your mother may tell you that there are specific rules of etiquette that women must follow. If you’ve grown up in a conservative society, then you can relate to having to hide a lot of these things yourself. So here are ten things that women are expected to hide even though it is entirely unnecessary:
1. Any Skin Or Body’s So-Called “Imperfection”
Many times you’ll have other women commenting on the fact that you haven’t worn makeup that day, and it really does hurt when someone of your own gender points it out. You may be thinking, “Why should my skin remain unblemished?”. But it is these very insecurities that the beauty industry thrives off. There is a reason why the industry is a billion-dollar industry. Also, comments about body weight fluctuations can seem quite offensive, especially after the rise of social media bullying (1). Everyone is born with different body shapes. So embrace your curves and other “perfect” imperfections.
2. Bra Straps
First of all, bras are expensive and, in today’s modern age, a crucial life hack. The unfortunate reality is that even though most women would want to go braless, they would be afraid of the number of people who would stare at their chests and make them feel uncomfortable. But when we do choose to wear a bra, the mere sight of our bra strap is enough to make creepy older folks uncomfortable. Well, news flash, women have breasts!
3. Body Hair
If you really want to be around “naturally hairless” women, then maybe you should just stick to barbie dolls. It’s foolish to tell someone else what they should do with their body and body hair. If you like hairless legs so much, shave/wax your own instead of expecting your partner to keep their body hairless.
4. Their Thighs
If there is one thing that a patriarchal and conservative society cannot stand to see, it’s the bare thigh of a woman. This is why victim-blaming is so common in our society. Rather than framing the narrative as “He assaulted her”, people would say, “She was wearing a short skirt, so he touched her”. It’s crazy to think that a grown man cannot control himself in front of a woman in a skirt.
5. Tampons/Sanitary Pads
If there is something that is a common and shared experience among women across conservative societies, it’s the fact that chemists wrap sanitary napkins and other products in black bags like they are illegal drugs or something. Isn’t it about time that we stopped pretending like periods were a bad thing or something that should be hushed up? Well, you can start by being confident about it yourself and not look left and right before pulling it out in emergency situations in public. Some stares are inevitable, but that’s how we can slowly normalize this process.
6. Their Relationship History
When women are opting for arranged marriages, they are asked to keep their prior relationship history a secret. But why should this be the case? There is nothing wrong with meeting people and going out on dates. It’s absolutely ridiculous that people would feel the need to judge a woman for the number of men she may have gone out with. Men can openly speak about the number of women they have slept with and face no repercussions. The same cannot be said for women.
If you, as a woman, wear any outfit that is a little flattering to your chest or shows off your cleavage, it is most likely that uncles and aunties will freak out and go on a judging frenzy. If they are so triggered by you showing your knees, imagine how offended they will be if they see your cleavage. All we can do is pray for better days or not give a damn at all.
8. Any Signs Of Aging
Many people like to use the term, “aging gracefully” but is it really a compliment? What if you weren’t aging in the way that the person complimenting you felt was appropriate. The truth is that everyone ages, and there is nothing wrong with growing old and developing some fine lines and wrinkles. But the sad thing is that even the Indian media portrays women above the age of 40 as mothers and aunties rather than as heroines. In the end, movies are a significant representation of our society’s perception and viewing choices.
9. Breastfeeding Outdoors
Unlike foreign countries where breastfeeding isn’t seen as that big of a deal, people in conservative societies can make a huge uproar and cry about it. Many women are subject to breastfeeding their child in the toilet, which is not only super unfortunate but highly unhygienic. India, especially has a long way to go until this freedom comes.
10. Any Methods Of Contraceptives
Women do enjoy getting intimate. It is not just a one-sided act. But many people seem to get offended when women decide to take their reproductive health into their own hands. Buying condoms is a task that should not be solely restricted to men. Women, too, need to take charge of their own health and buy themselves whatever contraceptive methods they may need. There is nothing wrong with being a responsible adult.
A little bit of love is all that this world needs. So you shouldn’t feel the need to hide anything and embrace your insecurities and turn them into your best asset. It takes a lot of courage to grow out of judgements and the so-called rules of the society. Whether you are into partying hard, or love spending time with your parents, it’s all a matter of individual choice. So it’s about time that the world started changing for the better, and it’s ridiculous that women are still subjected to so much criticism from the outside world. Do let us know if you agree with what we’ve stated in this article in the comments section below!
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