Our spring issue is out now! Our regular contributor Margot Tubbiolo shared a powerful piece on self acceptance and the male gaze – Dive on in!
Beauty and The Male Gaze
by Margot Tubbiolo
As teen girls, most of us aspire to be desired. Not in an unfeminist way, it is just that we want to feel accepted. This world we live in makes us feel that as a woman, if you are not beautiful you are not worthy. That leads most girls to crave and chase after this feeling from a young age. When we are meant to be dreaming about what our future will be, we are instead criticising the person in front of the mirror.
This leads me to believe that we are not a feminist society – how can we be if girls feel like they need to focus on their appearance, more than what they have to offer the world? As much as we like to think things are equal today, the way women feel the need to put themselves through this torment leads me to believe otherwise.
“Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female’.” – Erin McKean.
There are so many different types of women in this world, but I will be speaking from my experience. The way I perceive beauty is a result of how I looked at myself from a young age. Your experiences at this monumental time shapes your behaviours later in life – this is called your inner child. We have desires that were not fulfilled so we yearn for them at a later stage. Now aged eighteen, I have realised how distorted my perception of myself is. This has a lot to do with the male gaze. The male gaze is when a woman is visually positioned as an “object” of heterosexual male desire.
Since I never got much male attention as a young girl, the male validation I get now feels even more important in my life. I feel like I’ve gotten to the point where I need someone to tell me that I’m beautiful to feel it, and that is not good. I have my work cut out for me as a young adult.
I want to reprogram that part of my brain that makes me reliant on other people for my self-confidence. The way you act, your behaviour, is all a result of how you want people to view you. I look at myself from this male perspective and I act in a certain way so that people will find me attractive, and I am sick of it. It creates a toxic mentality that I need to keep adhering to men to make myself feel good, when in reality, who is that making happy? Not me, that’s for sure.
I feel like I can’t do certain things. I’ve always wanted to shave my head, stop shaving my body hair, put on weight for myself. However, as shallow as it sounds, the fear of losing male attention stops me from doing that. I am made to feel that if a man doesn’t think I’m pretty, then what value do I have?
The female gaze is so much more accepting and freeing. It focuses more on individuality by letting go of these ideals we feel we have to follow and cultivating overall confidence in ourselves. I think every woman should look at herself through their own eyes. We can do this by focusing on the female perspective. No one knows the struggles of a woman more than a fellow woman. I need to acknowledge that and let go of of the hold that male validation has over me. We all do.