Odgerel (Oge) Dashzeveg, Visiting Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center (WSRC), Brandeis University and member of the Waltham Committee presented her talk, “A Beautiful woman by their culture”, at the Waltham Senior Center on Monday, November 4, 2013.
Oge, Visting Scholar, WSRC (standing 4th from L)
Oge talked about women’s beauty practices and rituals that define womanhood across different cultures. Many cultures around the world have beauty traditions that have been forcing women to make physical changes to their bodies and appearance in order to be considered “beautiful” in her culture. These cultural beauty practices reflect values and beliefs about women exist for the benefit of men’s delight. Many of the harmful practices are performed on girls on achieving puberty and they symbolize entrance into womenhood and readiness for marriage. Some practices begin as young as for 3-4 years old girls and lasts until a girl reaches puberty and beyond to adulthood.
In her talk, Oge illustrates how a woman’s body becomes a beauty instrument from head to toe, including traditions of wearing heavy head pieces, shaving the head, etc. and ending with foot binding. A woman who fails to follow these physically and emotionally painful beauty traditions can be seen as unmarriageable, unattractive and dishonored by own community. Women’s beauty practices are unspoken traditions that never been questioned in the context of human morality, women’s human rights and dignity. Many of these traditions are diminishing, however, the existing beauty practices are shifting into global money making business that shows woman as cultural beauty exhibitions.