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When looking good becomes a burden

By Jeni Ekunkunbor
It is the desire of every woman to look pretty and whether spiritual or canal, it is the desire of every woman to be admired. It is even better when that attention comes from one’s partner.

To achieve that, a woman needs to have a perfect skin, long luscious hair, and be fit and toned. Very ideal, she would need to stay within a size 10-12 and look like those great Victoria Secret models she often admires on the runway or those great style icons like Victoria Beckham, Audrey Auburn or the late Jackie Onasis.

Unfortunately, not every woman is born pretty or blessed with a models body. Even for those who are born pretty, the after effect of child bearing and the harsh environmental factor takes its toll on a woman’s skin and consequently her looks. She grows horizontally and bulges appear in places they are not wanted making her less desirable and longing for her hey days.

Women generally want to be hot and beautiful. Unfortunately, we live in an image obsessed culture where people want to step out looking camera ready. Image it is said, is everything not only because you may not have a second chance to make an impression, the way you look to a great extent, determines the first attraction between two people. The truth is that in this image obsessed world, a man hardly walks up to an ugly girl to chat her up not to talk of taking her home!

So if truth must be told, how many women dress up to look good for themselves?  The reason why many women dress the way they do is because they want to be admired and judged by others as ugly or not capable of drawing attention. For this reason, a lot of women are faced with the challenge of buying all kinds of beauty products thrown at them by manufacturers of beauty products. For the face alone, you may have cream for day and night, special sun block, cream for puffy eyes, another to even skin tone.

There is of course eye cream, hand cream, body cream etc. some of these products range from affordable to amounts that would actually punch a hole in ones pocket. That is for the cream alone. Then you come to make up-lip stick, lip gloss etc. when you take the eye shadows, you can go dizzy choosing from the wide range available. For some people, once their favourite celebrity becomes the face of a product, they all go there hoping that by using that, they will start looking like that celebrity. You may use such a product for a while only to discover that the issue was not with the product but a natural defect on ones facial part.

This obsession with looking good stems from the images often projected by the media. Beautiful women adorn cover magazines, many of them look as graceful as a butterfly, flawless skin and flashing a smile that reveals a perfect set of teeth. Unfortunately, what these women do not realise is that the majority of these images you see in print or television or on billboards have been digitally retouched.

In other wards, these images have become casualty of hours of manipulation and enhancement that characterize the retouching process.  With digital retouching, cardinal blemishes can be fixed, imperfections will disappear and tribal marks can take a flight from a woman’s face! In extreme cases, some of the aquiline noses you admire have received lifts through cosmetic surgery, eyes can be adjusted to suit the individual taste, lips can be made fuller or reduced as desired while cheek bones can be enhanced.

So next time you set your eyes on one of those beautiful models’ pictures that make you feel insecure, the chances are that it has been given full digital retouch treatment that erases every trace of its originality.

So, how does one stem this inescapable pressure women are placed under? Mani Johnson (not real names) a part time student studying in Lagos says, “ this problem is a reality with us in Nigeria. Come to my school here in Lagos by 8am in the morning, you will be shocked to see how students appear in class. Most of my class mates come looking like they are going for a photo shoot. Heavy foundation, blusher, mascara, the whole hog. It is amazing.

It appears that they are in competition with some other people. To a point, it affected me, because I was forced to step up my game by going to buy some of these expensive cosmetic ranges. Initially, making up wasn’t an issue or me. Now it is because beside those girls, I just look like a plain Jane”

Margaret, a mother of two says it is difficult not to look a those pictures. “Yes it puts me under pressure. After my first baby, I was very upset with the changes that took place in my body.  Almost had a complex. But now I know if I need to look at an average woman, it would be people around me not on magazine covers”

Women are definitely under pressure to look good. So the real reason why they stay in front of the mirror trying out different outfits just for one event is not really for themselves but to impress the general public. Who will bail these women from the turmoil within?


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.