I am Lebanese and in my society, beauty standards changed in the last 10-15 years. We were busy with war until the early 1990s, not paying attention to physical characteristics. When we stopped killing each other with weapons, we started a devastating competition, as men and women, to own a maximum of material goods and be as much as possible superficial – our way of surviving or proving that we are living, at least for many of us… Or, neurosis!!
We valued ourselves and are still valuing based on altered physical features and ability, while denying self-esteem and body love to women and men who are aging naturally, who are ill, or disabled; or even, simply, denying what nature gave us: our genetic pool with all its characteristics seen as ‘flaws’ = big noses, thin lips, big asses, … !
We were supposed to rebuild ourselves and our country, not only a ‘façade’ – a shell -, but our inner self!! We were supposed to be creative and to look for ways to change our mentality, our political system. We were supposed to fight for our rights as citizens, as humans, as women in particular.
Pity us… Pity my nation… It doesn’t mean that there are no Lebanese working to change, individually or in NGOs. Still, their contributions are just baby steps for the moment. I am pessimistic, I confess… However, I believe that my body has a beauty and an integrity regardless of how poorly it conforms to patriarchal aesthetic standards. It has its own balance… My body is myself and it is not wrong, it is not ugly, it is not dirty, it is not too fat, nor too hairy, nor too tall or too short… If I damage my body, i will be damaging myself, i will be damaging my society. We can’t love our country if we don’t love our bodies. We can’t be honest in our feminism if we pretend that making choices to harm our bodies and conform to the dictates of a system that hates us is liberating and empowering.