Face Value: 3 Things Women Can Do To Fight Unfair Beauty Stigmas

by Nicole Crowley

We’ve come a long way to proclaim the message all women are beautiful, and we should not be defined by our appearances.

I’m on the bandwagon.

But, let me defog the mirror a little, and say we have a long way to go.

I wonder what Naomi Wolf would think of laser hair removal, the $60 billion beauty industry and labiaplasty.

Would she frown on microdermabrasion and eyelash extensions?

Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll be judged my over shellac obsession, waist-trainer and shoe collection.

The media backlash against unobtainable airbrushing and model-sized women is very sweet, despite our own personal fixation with flattering crops, filters and any other possible photo app enhancement.

And I think we like to pretend we’ve collectively risen above.

Sure, we're not immune to the pursuit of sexual desirability.

In fact, I’m all for it. What I’m not for, however, is hurting myself to get there.

This lack of distinction is what's harming us.

In the 25 years since Wolf’s "The Beauty Myth" called bullsh*t on the industry, have we gone backward under the pretense we’ve launched forward?

Have we celebrated beauty with a selfie obsession and labeled it narcissism?

Have we shed the light on clean eating, but along the way, managed to create a new collection of eating disorders?

Let’s stop shaming each other for celebrating beauty, and start celebrating the moments that make us beautiful.

1. Let’s commit to more phone-free moments.

We have a butter knife, a fork, a serving spoon and an iPhone.

Mobile phones are part of the cutlery set, and dinner is just a flash away from a distracted Facebook upload.

You’ll steal peeks mid-conversation to monitor likes and respond to compliments.

If no one likes it, will you take it down? Will you wish you used Valencia over Nashville?

Let’s put the phones down and impress those at the table instead.

2. Let’s be clear when healthy living becomes an unhealthy obsession.

We’ve rewound to an era of paleo, clean eating and purifying.

But, we've combined this return to a simpler time with the complexity of new eating disorders and an obsessive preoccupation with our health.

Given the juxtaposition, this is quite a feat.

A 2015 report by an Italian research group uncovered the prevalence of orthorexia nervosa at 57 percent, with a female to male ratio of two to one.

That’s over half of the people sitting next you.

Superior health is sought after with fierce determination.

Often, the pledge for strict clean regimes, cleansing and detoxing is supported by dangerous healthy messages.

If it’s "healthy," it must be right.

Let’s see if we can realign the mind, body and soul without the intense misbalance of body.

With image after image saturating the media of super smoothies and restricted food groups, let’s take it back a step and call a spade a spade.

Drop the judgment and speak up when your friend opts for obsession over health.

Have a talk with her when she skips social occasion after social occasion because she’s unable to control the ingredients in the restaurant food.

3. Let’s move money off the beauty shelf and into experiences.

There's an economy to happiness, and the logical assumption is what we spend our money on will determine what makes us happy.

To date, economists have yet to pinpoint any happiness achieved through the makeup market.

The behavioral science of buying stuff was best smacked down by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton, who said:

Stuff isn’t good for you. It doesn’t make you unhappy, but it doesn’t make you happy. But one thing that does make us happy is experience.

Satisfaction from purchased products drags the scales down, while money spent on experiences moves the scales up.

Grab your clan for picnics in the park. Go away for a girls' trip in the country.

These experiences will bring you more happiness than the newest Zimmermann playsuit would.

There’s an expiration date on how long we can blame the beauty industry for our somewhat stunted development of personal progress.

Would Naomi Wolf be impressed by how far we’ve come?

I don't think so.

Let’s get back to the basics, celebrate the small wins and cut all the bullsh*t.

Don't worry, ladies. We got this.