We’ve all had a childhood that has been marked by Disney films with beautiful princesses and happy ever-after stories. As children, we lived in a dreamy world where we imagined ourselves as princesses twirling around with enchanting dresses, long hair, enchanting glances and magical powers. But have we ever considered to give another thought to that “Disney Magic”? To those childish dreams that were inscribed in our unconscious minds to later become what we now consider as our “ideal”?
As a young girl with a mind full of imagination, I use to be called “Boucle-D’Or” which means Golden-Curl. I had that wavy golden-blond hair that curled at the ends, and every time I looked into the mirror, I slid my hand along the golden waves while imagining myself being a sleeping beauty who is going to wake up one day in the hands of a beautiful prince who will make her live happily ever after. As I grew up, my reflection in the mirror changed. My hand did not slide along golden waves but along the scarf that covered them. “Do you regret it sometimes?” “I wish I could see your hair” “How do you bear the summer heat” “You’re beautiful but I wonder how you’d look without your Hijab on”… and so many other questions and comments that I confronted while growing up as a Hijabi. While I use to find beauty in the golden shades of my hair, I realized that the meaning of beauty was slowly metamorphosing into a feeling of self-love, self-acceptance, gratitude… I believed that despite the religious path that I chose, I was still called beautiful, yet I looked nothing like a disney princess or a famous personage. Though I did not conform to the norms of beauty chosen by media, I felt that I am beautiful the way I am, with all my flaws and little imperfections. I was not affected by media nor by the persons who surrounded me. I was happy, happy as I am.
There is a hidden power behind all this media exposure; a power that has been shaping our ideas of the world, our expectations of cultural ideals, and our perception of gender-role, body-image, and even our representation of love ! We always seem to hear “I wish I had a smaller nose — I wish I had a thinner waist —- You should dress up nice and put some make-up on if you want that job; they won’t hire an ugly girl— I’m waiting for my other half to complete me…” and the list is endless. Where do you think all those “wishes” come from ? It all started with a “Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess named…” This was the first time our innocent minds got exposed to the image and idea of “beautiful”: white princesses, thin and tall, attractive, submissive, and most importantly, waiting for a prince to save them. But the only saving a woman truly needs is the saving from the manipulative power of media.
From Disney princess’ films that portray female characters with stereotypical gender roles and unrealistic appearances to today’s medias that are projecting celebrities, actresses, singers, journalists … we seem to have always chosen to blindly accept the represented “beauty standards” and allow these standards to colonize our minds. This sort of colonization is the first key that opened the door of surgeries, eating disorders, self-dissatisfactions and other negative self-images… We have to wake up and realize that since our very innocent childhood we have been the puppets and media the puppeteer. Our minds have been unconsciously been fed with what is beautiful, what is expected from women. Many of us would seem to obsess over a tiny little pimple, over a slightly bigger than average nose, a gained kilo or two… We seem to have allowed the puppeteers to take control making us slaves of our unstable desire to become “perfect”.
We are perfect. Perfect the way we are, with our little imperfections. We spend so much time involuntary focusing on our appearances trying to fix our outside while it is the inner us that screams for attention pleading us to fix it. Each one of us must get detached from the strings of the puppeteers by first accepting ourselves as we are, by being grateful for what we have been given and striving for inner growth and inner strength instead of submissively following the unreal beauty standard.
Follow me on instagram @nidaldakhlallah