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In this week of heightened awareness of violence against women (first with the win of A Girl in the River: The Price for Forgiveness at the Oscars and second thanks to the march against violence by the UN Women for Peace), it seems an odd time to chat about beauty.  It amazes me — no, downright depresses me — that violence against women is so rampant.

The topic of beauty seems so frivolous in comparison to issues of violence.  Some even argue that the social pressures around beauty are a form of violence — think anorexia, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and general low self-esteem.  Oh, yeah, and you could claim that the pressure to be beautiful is a way for ensure women’s subservience to men.

But hang on there.

No question a focus on beauty can lead us down some dangerous paths.  But it can also be a form of expression, rebellion and pride. From Afros and long beards in the 60’s to goth make-up in the 90’s, clothing, make-up and other things of beauty, have been powerful signals of revolt.  I’ve written about this a number of times in Beautyskew over the years.

In one instance, Disturbing But Awesome, I highlighted how a famous beauty blogger, Lauren Luke, urged women to fight against domestic abuse by NOT covering up their scars with heavy make-up.  She uses the extremely popular medium of beauty-how-to videos to implore women to stand up against their abusers.  It is extremely powerful.

In another post, Clothing is Power, I referenced a story about a woman who wears her high heels as sign that she CAN.  This is the story told by Jasvinder Sanghera, who founded Karma Nirvana in Great Britain to help victims of forced marriages and honor-based violence.  In an interview with 48 Hours, she tells of a women who escaped after two years of being held captive by her family for rebelling against their traditional ways, and not marrying the man chosen for her.  When Jasvinder met her for the first time after her escape, this girl was determined to express her freedom via her attire…no matter the weather or circumstances.

As I referenced in this same post, this story reminded of my college studies about Iran (a course that propelled me to study Anthropology throughout the rest of my college career). We learned how westernized, highly-educated women were forced into subservient, second-class roles in society after the revolution.  No surprise they were forced to wear the chador (black veil) as a way to further limit their mobility (physical, social, educational, etc).  And yet, women found little ways to rebel. How?  They would wear the chador in a manner that would appear as if it were “accidentally” pushed back on their heads. Or they would sew tiny silver threads into their chador that only a few could see up close.

Lastly, our sexuality and attractiveness should be celebrated not downplayed! Why? In “Look at My Ugly Face!“, Sara Halprin, psychologist, author, and documentary film-maker explains that in ancient societies, “women’s procreative power was understood to be linked to all sorts of creative abilities.”  Goddesses ruled!

So, as we gather to march or, at the very least support the UN Women for Peace March, let’s be proud to be strong, beautiful women and men who can use our power — beauty-oriented or otherwise — to change the world!

For more information about the UN Women for Peace March on Saturday March 5, visit: http://www.unwomenforpeace.org/march-in-march/

RISE. UNITE. and MARCH with us this Saturday!

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