Patria-Kaye Aarons: What if we were just ourselves?
As a woman on TV, I struggle. I'm always concerned about little girls and how they see themselves and learn to love themselves. I think that we should all take every opportunity to build their self-esteem and ensure that they feel pretty, no matter their complexion or weight or skin condition, or hair length or texture. On the heels of that, I sometimes feel disingenuous because TV is the greatest tool in perpetuating the stereotype that says who you are is not good enough.
Most women on TV don't look like real women. It's the truth. They weigh less than the average woman and, for sure, are perfectly put together, not a blemish, not a strand of hair out of place. I often defy the stereotype, weighing in heavier than most of my colleagues and sometimes skipping one or two layers of makeup just to feel comfortable in my own skin. And for that, I am often criticised.
Why can't I wake up, shower, brush my teeth, put on my favourite dress and head right on set?
Heavens, no! The pre-TV ritual is long and arduous. It's a little deceptive ... and a cover-up only executed by the feminine gender ... because male presenters do nearly none of this. Apparently, they are born TV-ready.
Here's what a woman goes through to make herself 'TV-ready'. It's unrealistic and very time-consuming. Women television presenters wear a lot of masks. Head to toe, there are additions and enhancements that we put on to present what the industry has come to consider as necessary.
We start with processing our hair. Making it straight with chemicals that literally burn the scalp. Then many of us put in hair extensions to give the perception of long, flowing tresses. We wear layers and layers of make-up to mask blemishes and to contort our noses to look smaller. We pencil in our eyebrow arches higher and line our lips thinner.
We add eyelashes, so long that when we blink, those nearby feel a rush of wind. There's blush on our cheeks to highlight (or create) cheekbones, and loads of powder to give that I-never-sweat appearance.
And that's just what gets done to our heads and faces. Our bodies are another regime.
There are hundreds of products on the market to lift your boobs and cinch your waist.
Then the ideal is that we wear a different outfit every single day. How unrealistic is that?
This perfect TV woman delivers the false message to little girls and boys that people are perfect. Which we are not.
It's such a shocker to some people when they meet those they see on TV in real life. Acne-scarred and shiny and hair a mess, and sometimes even big-bellied. People would sooner feel let down when they discover that their TV idols are fallible humans; rather than happy that 'she is just like me'.
The practices of perfection have seeped into real life. The rituals above are no longer the get-ready ritual of the TV woman. Every woman now does these things every day to face the world. We have convinced ourselves that covered up and contorted are 'the very best versions of ourselves'.
Whatever happened to just being who you are and loving yourself.
Those of us who frown upon those who bleach their skin, how different are we? The objective is the same. Mask the way you were born with fabricated alterations, often much more ridiculous than a lighter hue. (I remember my eyelash saga all too well.) To me, it really is all the same.
It's got so ridiculous, I've gone to road races and seen women in full faces of make-up. For what! It really is a self-loathing that we have to change.
Ladies, for the sake of little girls who already have enough esteem issues dealing with, let's keep it real. Let's show them that we are comfortable with ourselves and perhaps they will follow our lead and be comfortable with themselves as well. On this one, we have to lead by example.
Now, if only I could be myself more on TV.