Note: This was written on January, 2013 and tons have definitely changed since then.
|These loo rolls remind me of the "ideal girl"|
During winter break I went back home to find most of my girl friends engaging in a steady, romantic relationship. Whether they are going to school in the U.S., Hong Kong, Australia or Indonesia, all of my girl friends are in relationships with Indonesian boys. Single, I asked my boy friends the type of girls they are attracted to. Interestingly, the answers were similar. For instance, most of my friends are attracted to petite women, who look vulnerable. Aggressive women and make up are considered turn-offs.
These tendencies are reflected in the Indonesian media. Indonesian Cosmopolitan magazine focus on ways for a woman to seem vulnerable. Workout routines on TV are created to achieve lean, tiny bodies. Plastic surgery services such as breast enhancement surgery are rare, while double eye lid surgery to achieve doe-eyes are popular.
These features are influenced by other cultures such as the Korean and Japanese looks. In Indonesia, Korean make up brands are much more popular than Western brands. The surgery methods adopted by surgeons are also taken from other Asian countries such as Korea and Thailand. To achieve the “ideal” persona, Indonesian women flock to those countries to get surgery and go to mannerism classes to learn the “proper” way to behave.
The phenomenon of conforming to a certain image may have both positive and negative social influences. Many young women in Indonesia have refrained from wearing revealing clothing or acting in inappropriate manners such as flashing in public. As a result of desiring the perfect body, women have placed more focus on maintaining and improving their health. On the other hand, most of my friends have chosen to be less aggressive at work in order to attract men at the office. The message of loving oneself, which is popular in the U.S., is not really preached in Indonesia. Instead, women are taught to embody and love a certain image, which is dictated by other societies and what men find attractive.
Finally, from a feminist perspective, women are doing a disservice to themselves by conforming to the idealized image. In the workplace, women are becoming less competitive. Influential positions, such as in the government, are dominated by men. In order to be equals, women in Indonesia need to see themselves in a new light. Loving oneself for what it is, should be a message that women focus on.