Miss Universe Australia Opens Up About How She Was Discriminated Against Because Her Good Looks. Women Can’t Win
Woman are often subjected to quick judgements and unsolicited advice and most of these are based on their appearance. A beautiful woman married to a rich man is labelled a trophy wife, a doctor with nice features is called beauty with brains while a pretty woman in fashion or films is presumed to be a bimbo. Do these terms apply to gorgeous men? No! Because men can be good-looking and brainy while a woman possessing both of these qualities is so rare that the society had to come up with specific names for these rare species. *rolls eyes to back of the head* And bearing the brunt of these prejudices is Miss Universe Australia 2020, Maria Thattil.
The young girl has been on the receiving end of these sexist and disheartening remarks all her life and she recently opened up about how ‘gut-wrenching’ the experience has been for her. She faced backlash and prejudice for her good looks as a university student and as a recruiter.
She told in an interview with news.com.au, “I remember starting my career in recruitment while I was finishing my masters in HR and very often I was told things based on how I looked. I was told even in my internship, very early just starting my career, you need to be extra nice to people because you’re pretty, therefore they’re going to assume you’re stuck up. It was from a female senior actually and it was very disheartening.” Clearly, it’s biologically impossible for some people to look at a woman as someone more than just a pretty face.
And what’s worse is that these demeaning judgements would often be used as “compliments” like ‘you are too pretty to be a research scholar’ or ‘you must be a distraction for your male colleagues’, which are actually pretty insulting and sexist. Women are always degraded to either how they look or what they are wearing and it’s disgusting. It’s 2020 and we are still being judged on the basis of our appearances.
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Tonight I received a message from a former uni peer (swipe right). Underestimation is not something I’m new to. At 18, Psychology graduate peers asked “how did she get in?” I ended up graduating with Honours. At 20, I interned for a corporation where a senior colleague told me that in order to thrive as a ‘serious professional,’ I had to be “extra nice” to everyone so they didn’t make assumptions of arrogance because of “how pretty” I was. At 25, a male recruiter remarked that I was likely successful in landing the job that I’ve since held for two years because a panel of male management liked how I looked. I was phone interviewed by two women. At 27, I’ve seen commentary around whether my height diminishes my worthiness of the Miss Universe title. It has taken years to overcome external underestimation – but from my education to this opportunity, I have been able to GET there because I chose not to internalise external perceptions. I decided that my internal dialogue was going to be built with faith. It was crafted with kindness. It evolved with empathy. I will use what I have to always speak for compassion – because you never know what someone is going through and just how much strength, courage and conviction it has taken for them to show up in the best way they can. Why choose to be anything other than a light in someone’s life? And I tell myself: I am what I believe I am. We know better, so let’s do better. This will be MWM Ep 24, and I’m taking your personal experiences with underestimation on my stories – talk to me and let’s use what we’ve experienced to help someone else. #MissUniverse
Also Read: Tanushree Dutta Opens Up About Losing 15 Kgs And Leaving An IT Job To Make A Comeback In Bollywood. This Is So Inspiring!
Maria was also often questioned how she managed to score a subject like psychology and was singled out in class as she was considered ‘beauty with brains’. In her workplace, she was criticised for being “too caring about outfits” and wearing makeup. She was even casually told by a recruiter that her looks probably landed her the job, when, in fact, it was a telephonic interview taken by two women. Maria has also been targeted for her Indian ethnicity and faced discrimination due to the same. This could really mess up someone’s self-esteem and to help women who are struggling with this discrimination, Maria has started a series Mind With Me on her Instagram channel to discussing unrealistic beauty standards and speak about her experience to empower women who go through this.
“I think it’s really important to acknowledge that society has very changing standards of beauty and right now a lot of the things that come natural to me – whether it’s my skin tone or the fact that my lips are bigger – that at the moment is being glorified as a trend and now the media and society has determined that is attractive,” Maria said. Who decided anyway that a woman with fuller lips is attractive? Beauty ideals of the society are so fickle and frustrating, it’s literally hard to keep up. One day, people are worshipping the thigh gap and the next day being ‘thicc’ is a beauty trend and women with the former are suddenly deemed unattractive.
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If I asked you “tell me about yourself?” – what would you say? This week on MWM, we talked about judgement: labels, stereotypes, assumptions and opinions … why as a society do we judge others and value external judgements of ourselves? From acknowledging the evolutionary purpose judgement serves to uncovering how and why putting people into boxes or internalising judgement impacts us, this episode was honest and impactful. I’d love to know what you think. Is there something you want to expand on? Is there something you disagree with? And is there more you want to talk about to grow our perspectives? Tell me: I love what our community is and does together. Just know that as human beings – we have all been judged, and we all judge – but living more consciously to be kinder, more connected and improve our experience of reality is possible, and you can watch to find out how. #MINDWITHME
Maria says her looks meet the current beauty ideals of the society but it’s not all rainbows and unicorns for her as well. She wants to share her experiences with women who are struggling to be taken seriously in their field. “I think it’s really important for me to speak from a place of acknowledging yes, at the moment I do have certain privileges because I am meeting certain ideals.” She further added, “And having that means I need to use that responsibility to speak on the things that matter, but I’ve also experienced prejudice, and I’ve also been othered and I’ve also been someone who is excluded because I didn’t always meet the threshold for what it is to be successful, beautiful, worth or valuable.”
People are quick to assume a woman with gorgeous face and body is either shallow or dim or both. It’s sad how people can’t see beyond appearance when it’s a woman is question and we are often defined by how we look. This perception and ridiculous prejudice that beautiful women aren’t brainy really needs to change.