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My mother used to say that everything is political when you’re a woman. To be honest, it took me a while to understand what this was supposed to mean. However, today I know that she was absolutely right. Everything is political when you are a woman. And if it’s not, we should make it political. If you need evidence, think about gender roles, pay gaps, birth control or the pro-life movement. I’m not the first to point out the challenges that modern women face. Naomi Wolf, an American writer and political activist, claimed in her book “The Myth of Beauty” that dieting can be compared to a political sedative, in order to easily manipulate a passively insane population. The beauty dictatorship is real, but it can be beaten.

I was mainly raised by women, and to this day, I believe that plays a huge part in who I am. They taught me how to be strong, resilient, confident and how to always make my voice heard even in a crowded room. Despite being given the right tools, they could have not prepared me for the real world even if they wanted to. Spoiler alert: the real world is a harsh place. No matter how confident you think you are, or how much love you have for yourself, eventually, someone or something will crush the image you have built of yourself. 

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My body was never a problem to me. I have always been skinny, and my only worry was that I didn’t have enough curves. Or, at least, not as many as I was supposed to have. This was the first time I was confronted by the fabricated concept of a perfect body. “Ok”, I thought. My body wasn’t perfect, but I was comfortable in my own skin.

At least until high school. There, girls would mention my lack of boobs, and boys would get distracted by my legs. My teenage years gave me the perception that I needed my body to look a certain way in order to succeed. I gave in to peer pressure, and began to make an effort. I worked out, tried a few fad diets and eventually, after puberty, I finally got the curves I desired. However, still no boobs.

Years later, in University, my friends would gripe about their extra pounds or cellulite incessantly while scrolling through their Instagram feeds. When one body issue was fixed, another matter would sneak in immediately. Unfortunately, I was like that, too. Body positivity? That was unfamiliar territory to me. Without even realizing it, I was already part of this perfect body dictatorship. Not just a part of it, actually… I was so deeply immersed in this idea, that a few years later I became Beauty Editor of a magazine in Portugal. And, believe me, I was thrilled. Product reviews, beauty treatments, new diet programs… and a lot of pressure. Not only did I want to look good in order to give advice to my readers, I couldn’t help feeling that I was an impostor.

Every spring, I had to write a guide on how to achieve the “perfect bikini body”. This turned into a curse. I loved my job, but knew that approach was wrong, and harmful to my audience. Everybody has a bikini body. I was perpetuating a stigma I didn’t believe in. Do you know that an unbelievably high percentage of women hate their bodies? Not just don’t like it, but hate it. And this is an epidemic, too. An unattainable search for the perfect body can induce psychological disorders, eating disorders and serious consumerism problems. Women are intensely pressured by social norms and we all know it. 

There is an imaginary obligation for us to look good, to take care of our bodies, to maintain a certain image, and I was part of that problem. Upon this discovery, I decided to make a change for the better, for all women. Instead of writing “the perfect bikini guide”, I chose to write about how to achieve the best version of ourselves through self-love. Those are meant to inspire and not cause damage. I think the most important thing you can do is accept your body. Allow yourself to fall in love with your body. The idea that the perfect body is having a negative belly or having Kim Kardashian’s bum worries me. Every hour, the media propagates the new ‘perfect’. Turn that down. Learn to love yourself, and celebrate every inch of who you are as a woman. How will you fight the beauty dictatorship?

Based in Lisbon, Portugal, Raquel is a journalist, intersectional feminist and a 10-step skincare routine enthusiast. She also holds a Bachelor’s Degree of Communication Sciences from Algarve University Portugal. Connect with her on Instagram.

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Welcome to Zaftyg!

About Zaftyg, it is a community space for the forward thinking woman! We are a progressive lifestyle brand and online magazine focused on delivering high quality products and starting meaningful conversations. No matter how you identify, we are here to help you look your best, and live your best life!

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