How often have you had the case of the uglies?
“If only my nose wasn’t so large. If only I lost 10 kilos. If only I was taller. Only then I would be happy.”
How many conversations have we women had about our physical flaws? Sipping on our coffee while bonding over the displeasure of our thighs, the newly appeared wrinkles, and invasion of stretch marks.
We have created a culture that has told women the most important thing she can be in life is beautiful. And while we are persistently being told to “embrace our beauty”, at the same time we are being bombarded with images of unrealistic hot summer bods and photoshopped faces. As such, we’ve created a standard of beauty that is extremely narrow, unfair and for many, simply out of reach.
We have a global species of uniquely created women of all shapes, sizes and colours that have now been manipulated to believe that there is only one way to look good. And if they don’t fit the mould, rest assured, there’s a filter for that! And if that doesn’t work, they can go even further to inject fillers to hide, polish, and eliminate everything that makes us unique. So that we can all now look like Bratz dolls.
And look we’re not trying to say it’s easy as modern women to face these difficult challenges nor is it legitimate to downplay the struggle women face with their self-worth.
Professor Renee Engeln, psychologist and author of Beauty Sick asked little girls what they really wanted to be when they grew up. Most of them answered “Thin and Pretty”. She also identified that around 90% of women today have no problem identifying a body part they’re unhappy about. While more than 50% hold a negative evaluation of their body.
This might explain the disappointment we feel when we look in the mirror. A disappointment that unfortunately affects all women, including us Muslims. As Muslim women, we need to understand that this facade of what it means to be beautiful is a lie that is being fed to us and we need to counter it.
So how do we tackle this?
We should all remind ourselves that tranquillity is a gift from Allah. And being content with who we are and how we look can only come from within. External alterations cannot fix internal pain nor create peace in the hearts.
As Lindsay Kite says, “Our body is an instrument for use, not an ornament to be admired”.
We should step aside from self-objectification and appreciate that self-esteem is not simply dependent on what our bodies look like. As the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us in a narration that “Allah does not look at your faces but your hearts and deeds” (Sahih Muslim)
We should know that the whispers we get to constantly change our bodies to adhere to these unnatural standards of beauty are solely from the Shaitan. And what we focus on grows. Those insecurities never really disappear yet we determine how much attention we give it. Pondering over our perceived flaws only intensifies it and can lead to unhealthy obsessions.
Be a means of uplifting other women to love the vessel Allah gave them. Unfortunately, it can be the closest people to us that have damaged our self-worth. Parents mocking their daughter’s weight, the shape of her nose or the texture of their hair. These comments may seem trivial but leave lasting silent scars for many years.
Ibn ‘Umar said that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, changed a woman’s name from ‘Asiya (rebellious), saying, “You are Jamila (beautiful),” reinforcing this notion.
Remember that beauty, like all aspects of Dunya, is temporary and will soon wither away. And those wrinkles or stretch marks are nothing more than a sign that nothing in this world lasts forever. So there really is no point on trying to fight something Allah has already decreed to fade away.
So while humanity is shackled and enslaved with trying to fit into body trends and the latest fads. Islam frees you. Allah empowers us to redirect our focus on the true purpose of existence.
So next time you’re looking at the mirror, lower your expectations. Yes, you might have cellulite and stretch marks but who cares, in the end, this is not who you really are. These things don’t define you.
We owe it to ourselves to be more than just a body or an image to be sold on a magazine cover. Make sure you are taking care of what’s inside and perfecting that because our body is but an instrument to house our soul.
May Allah bless you all.
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