Cleopatra had a beauty regimen she followed religiously and her beauty secrets, which included milk baths, are still used to date. Queen Esther from the Bible embraced a beauty treatment that included fine oils and cosmetics, to have an edge over the other girls in the eyes of Kin Xerxes who made her his queen. Throughout history women have been known to enhance various body parts to appear younger, fertile and more attractive.
Ken Ouko, a sociologist at the University of Nairobi, says that the modern woman is concerned with accumulating erotic capital over any other form of capital whether it is economic, intellectual or material.
“Erotic capital refers to the fact that every woman wants to look attractive and be (trendy, fashionable and/or goodlooking),” explains Ouko. However, he says that the twisted part of this argument is that women seem to be responding to the male definition of erotic capital. “Some women are more concerned about (other people) want instead of what’s good for them,” he notes.
We look at some of the leading issues that bother women and the rationale behind their thinking from a societal, biological and sociologist’s point of view.
One of the biggest areas of concern for many women today is skin colour. In some areas and schools of thought, fair-skinned women are considered more beautiful.
Light skinned women are thought to get more attention and opportunities than their dark-skinned counterparts.
During the days of slavery in America, the light-skinned women were assigned lighter jobs in the house while the dark-skinned slaves were often assigned manual jobs in the fields.
Today, the skin care industry is awash with harmful products for skin lightening.
“The fact that Africa was largely colonised by white skinned people left citizens of the continent with a collectivised hang up about the supposed superiority of white-skinned persons. To most women, therefore, being light-skinned is a step up the superiority ladder. Light skin is an industry in itself; women who crave light skin strive for monetary access to the cosmetic facilitation methods that make fair skin a reality,” explains Ken Ouko.
“When I’m done with babies, I will reward myself with a boob job to restore my sagging bust,” says Sarah*. She is one of the many women today who would brave the knife for breast augmentation due to various individual reasons.
With Hollywood defining what beauty is, most women would do anything to increase their cup size. From a psychological point of view, saggy breasts are much derided – despite the fact that they are symbol of child nursing and a natural part of the ageing process.
However, with the taboo associated with the ageing process, many women feel compelled to find ways to lift their busts in order to stay young. Perky breasts also enhance one’s ‘marketability’ in the dating arena. “When a man shows up with beautiful women with perky breasts and a beautifully shaped body, he becomes the envy of the other men,” reveals Ouko. But that’s not all; fashion is also favourable towards women who do not need industrial-strength bras to lift and shape their breasts, leading to further self-esteem crises that make surgery an option.
From Nicki Minaj to Kim Kardashian, today’s pop celebrities have made ‘bubble butts’ the most-sought-after surgical enhancement of the day. Adverts for Brazilian butt lifts abound on social media, and those who cannot afford one do endless squats and glute-building exercises to enhance their behinds.
“”Big hips and a big bottom are usually associated with a woman’s fertility,” says Ouko. “Today most men are pre-occupied with what I call the ‘buttock culture’. As a result, some women will (do almost anything to get one),” points out Ouko. African men seem to be obsessed with a big derriere.
“I read books and do squats to grow my mind and butt,” says Nancy*. Like most women she says she does not understand men’s fascination with a female’s behind. She however, admits the girls in her circle have monthly squat challenges in an effort to increase the size of their butts. “We cannot afford to have butt implants so we are going it the natural way,” confesses Nancy.
Many women are spending tens of thousands of shillings buying human hair pieces to enhance their looks. Most of them have no qualms investing in an expensive wig or weave as it changes her looks instantly. For a long time, this was symptomatic of the colonisation of the black race, the Hollywoodisation of beauty standards (only blonde-haired, blue-eyed women were considered beautiful) and the insecurities associated with nappy hair.
Only recently has natural African hair become a fashion trend, with black consciousness and pride growing both in Africa and the world. But for many years, only women with straight hair – and especially long hair – would be considered professional-looking and tidy enough to date.
A symmetrical face is perceived as attractive and gives the illusion of a good-natured person. In mate selection, most people prefer symmetry. From Botox injections to preserve their youth to nose and cheek jobs, women have altered their appearances to look beautiful and more youthful. The facial cosmetic surgery movement may not have caught on in Kenya yet, but many women now use make-up to contour their faces to give an illusion of high cheekbones and a pointed Caucasian-like nose.
WHY THE STRESS OVER LOOKS?
Ken Ouko, a sociologist at University of Nairobi helps clarify a few facts on why women alter or enhance their appearances.
“Dr Catherine Hakim, a sociologist at the London School of Economics, coined the term ‘erotic capital’, which she described as a combination of ‘beauty, social skills, good dress sense, physical fitness, liveliness, sex appeal and sexual competence.” She wrote a book called Erotic Capital in 2010, which advanced the theory that indeed, looking attractive is directly related to the success of a woman,” says Ouko.
OPPORTUNITIES THAT COME WITH INVESTING IN EROTIC CAPITAL
When women invest in erotic capital, it opens doors for them. When looking for jobs, how a woman looks is likely to play a big part in landing the job, fortunately or unfortunately. An attractive woman is also more likely to get an advertising job or land a modelling contract.
The media exposure also works to her advantage and advances her brand. There are inverted opportunities which come with male attention, which comes with capital packages and the women are given various gifts.
When a woman is looking for economic opportunities or a better place to live, they are likely to get favours just because of how they look.
SOCIALISATION GONE WRONG?
I hear my campus students saying, “If you look hot you are not gonna float.” This strongly implies that how a woman looks has a lot to do with how her life turns out.
Our society is like a common market place and everyone is like a stock in the shelf where various people pick up what appeases them. If you hit your ‘sell by’ date, you are thrown off the shelf. So one has to take care of themselves and keep looking as good as they can.
WHO ARE WOMEN’S ROLE MODELS?
Women are very imitative by nature. So if socialites or celebrities advance a certain trend, they are bound to copy it. On social media, especially on Instagram, about 94 per cent are females who take photos that accentuate their ample behinds and pose flaunting their figures.
This no doubt gets into the mind of most women who desire to look like them a sociological trend we hope would end but one that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight.
Men are competitive by nature so when your peers, age-mates or business associates show up with beautiful looking women with well accentuated behinds and perky breasts they will seek to outdo them.
The visual nature tied with their masculinity and testosterone makes them look for the best and according to them, the best is what every other man oogles at. You might find a woman who appeases you in every which way but because no one gives her a second look it doesn’t satisfy his ego.
Some men will want to be with that woman who’s like a flower lapel on his expensive jacket. It’s like a trophy catch. When he manages to hook up with one of those beautiful women on social media he becomes the envy of other males and he becomes a masculine icon because men oogle at his catch and that turns him on.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153
With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.