On what makes people valuable, and feeling objectified

It took a while for me to be able to articulate what annoyed me about arguments along the lines of “everyone is smart/talented/skilled/beautiful in their own way,” but I eventually recognized that the thing that bothered me about those kinds of statements was their underlying logic—that everyone needs to be X or have X in order to have value. I think that trying to justify/prove those types of statements is a trap that a lot of people fall into in an attempt to be politically correct. I believe that it’s important to treat a human being’s value as an intrinsic and holistic quality, rather than something that is contingent on some quality they possess or don’t possess.


The reason why I bring this up is that I’ve been feeling objectified recently. This is part of the Wikipedia definition: “[Objectification] is part of dehumanization, the act of disavowing the humanity of others.” When I feel like people are—consciously or subconsciously—“valuing” me only for my external appearance, I feel like my worth depends on how I look, and that feels really bad. And it’s so dehumanizing because I am not just a body! I am a human being! In other words, I don't want to be seen only for the way that I look.


One thing that I’ve been thinking about is how I present myself relates/doesn’t relate to me being objectified. Three years ago, I started dressing less conservatively (i.e., I started wearing crop tops), and have continued that ever since. Initially, this change came from a desire to not be seen/stereotyped as a passive Asian girl, and also to push myself out of my comfort zone. Since, changing my wardrobe has been an amazing catalyst for cultivating self-confidence and loving my body. But when I think about slut-shaming rhetoric like “if you don’t want to receive attention, then don’t dress provocatively,” I fall into the trap of blaming myself and the way I choose to present myself when I feel objectified. I’ve been trying to rewire that self-blame by reminding myself how easy it is for me to interact with others in multidimensional ways and to treat them as human beings.

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