Chucking Body Shame into the Barrel

Our society is far from perfect, yet, we’d rather tweet about tea and cricket than address the perilous topic of women’s empowerment in Sri Lanka. That’s the norm, isn’t it? We all go around social circles barely skirting the edges of what seems like an uncomfortable topic even though every single woman carries it around like a weighted burden, hunching their backs to the ground.

I recently wrote an article for women.lk regarding the recent plight on women’s rights in Sri Lanka! Here’s the full article for anyone interested:

Our society is far from perfect, yet, we’d rather tweet about tea and cricket than address the perilous topic of women’s empowerment in Sri Lanka. That’s the norm, isn’t it? We all go around social circles barely skirting the edges of what seems like an uncomfortable topic even though every single woman carries it around like a weighted burden, hunching their backs to the ground.

To empower women is to give her the freedom and right to make single standing decisions regardless of her bonds, family and other facets of her life. It’s giving way to draw independent judgment, autonomy, and other factions of decision making in all areas of society and life pertaining to her. It’s giving a woman full social rights, judicial strength and upholding economic stability without any individual or party dictating what a woman should and shouldn’t do.

Tailing closely behind the president’s recent rejection of the move to allow women to purchase alcohol, we were the targets for body shaming in a series of digital and print media campaigns by a well-known fitness center. The campaign pictured below is the first of a series, which, according to a statement released by them, was to “promote [awareness for an] ‘obesity-free Sri Lanka’ [as] women are more prone to diabetes, overweight, obesity, and physical inactivity compared to males.” (Facebook).

So, here we are, dangerously inviting the devil’s advocate to throw havoc in the face of women who try, every single day, to stand up for the inequality and shame.

Ignoring the unjust sexism flavoring this campaign, flesh out the revolting implication of a rusted barrel symbolizing women. In a time when we’re all encouraging women to love their bodies, to promote self-confidence and to embrace every aspect of their life, this seemingly benevolent act of body shaming (as per the statement) is the very opposite. It’s another matter entirely to promote health and wellness amongst women (and men); however, provoking action as a result of women feeling ashamed of their looks is the worst form of self-pity. It’s insensitive and takes a sure jab at the hope for a better future.

Whilst our very own government promotes measures for dividing the sexes in this country and only talk about women’s freedom and representation, why isn’t the public, the people of this country, banding together to fight the injustice? Shouldn’t we overthrow ruling of patriarchal dominance against women? Yet, here we stand, sandwiched between arrogant authoritative governance and certain sections of the public provoking women’s right to decisions. In what definition of equality and empowerment is this justified?

Branding and promoting connotations of women such as what is pictured above is the reason why some women shy away from loving their bodies, it’s the reason why some women shatter their self-esteem because looking anything other than ‘skinny’ is shameful. How can we raise our daughters amongst putrid ideals of the female body? How can we begin to promote a just world for women when we are still battling for a simple right to life? When we limit what is allowed to be called beautiful, we limit the women who have the right to feel confident, strong, proud, brave and empowered.

In the name of artful connotations, perhaps archaic laws and ways of thinking should be chucked into the barrel; and then, praise the women standing up today fighting the arrogance in the face of unjust disadvantages given to us for simply being a woman.

In light of this event, many women have taken center stage to highlight the unwarranted acts of sexism and body shaming in this country. It is positively startling to see the growing number of women and men voicing their concerns and rejections on how women are perceived. With this uproar, the digital and print media campaigns were shortly taken down and we applaud for the bandage plastered on the wound. However, healing the wound is simply a scratch on the surface. The real work begins with uprooting the mentality of our society to reason that women are not the brunt of patriarchal induced sexism and generalization of the female population.

Thus, let us fight. Let us fight the system, fight the injustice and make way for a society welcoming women as the backbone of life. As the saying goes, let’s say cheers to strong women: may we know them, may we raise them, and may we be them.

Article originally published on http://www.women.lk

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