The aesthetic violence: a new form of violence against women
socióloga Esther Pineda G
Traditionally, when we speak about violence against women, we frequently put our attention primarily on physical, psychological and verbal abuse of a woman from a man with whom she is in a coupled relationship. However, in our modern society there is a violence that has reached tremendous proportions and is costing many women their lives with little attention paid to its victims.
The violence of which I speak is the aesthetic demand, which is a psychological violence that has a physical effect on women, that is to say, it impacts their objectivity of their own bodies in a society that establishes beauty as a matter of identity and feminine value. That is to say, their value as a woman is in their beauty.
This aesthetic violence begins by defining, in an arbitrary way, with models and patterns of established cultural imperialism, through the mass media and the fashion industry, music, cosmetics marketing, glorification of “perfect” bodies—which are nothing more than a fiction conceived as ideals, as a pattern to follow and under which women are declared “imperfect” by this particular criteria which forces women to suppress themselves and constantly correct themselves.
This aesthetic violence is also part of the patriarchal system in which men de-value the natural state of a feminine body and embrace standards allowing themselves critical assessments inherent in the system and which husbands, fathers, friends, boyfriends, brothers all promote, surrounding a woman with the message that she must transform her body in order to look more attractive or suffer the shame of reduced worth if she does not look like a mannequin of beautiful face and perfect measurements, as promised by the marketplace.
Aesthetic violence is exercised through unscrupulous doctors, endangering women’s health. Doctors who see women as clients, not patients, as business and who perform surgeries and introduce unsafe and prohibited substances into women under inadequate conditions and in dangerously unclean facilities, with poor instruments, expired medications without informing them of the dangers, without letting them assess the risks. This is medical violence against women and it compromises the saferty and health of women.
This is fundamentally a violence that women exercise upon themselves as they evaluate and value the criteria thrust upon them by the capitalist market that has commercialized their bodies. Women submit to these unnecessary invasive surgeries, starve themselves, all through the tyranny perpetuated against them under which the expected social aesthetic is established by society.
This aesthetic violence is one that erases a woman’s identity as they push themselves into a mold imposed upon them that goes against their body, their weight, their features and slowly erases them.