Today 8 March is International women’s Day 2024. Although many modern societies consider themselves progressive,  women are still being cast into stereotypical roles which severely skew how we view them.

A glance at today’s headlines only serves to reinforce this point:

‘Sharon Osbourne’s appearance shocks celebrity Big brother fans’ [Yorkshire Live’]

Osbourne has attributed her recent weight loss to the drug Ozempic which has generated controversy in the pharmaceutical industry. Osbourne is also recently quoted as saying that “everyone wants to be skinny.” But the question arises – how skinny is too skinny? At the age of 75, she looks decades younger but she would be the first to admit that this is due largely to plastic surgery and makeup. A celebrity should not be the poster child for any drug, nor speak to its efficacy as they have the power to influence countless millions. As women, do we wish to be judged predominantly on how well we can hold back the years and stave off the natural ageing process?The late comedienne, Joan Rivers, for all her quick-wittedness and acclaim, confessed to going under the knife on many occasions because she felt ugly and wanted to be considered by men to be pretty.

‘Carol Vorderman hits back at critics who judge her looks’ [Yahoo Entertainment]

It’s sad to think that on International Women’s Day, the urgent question Vorderman was asked concerned being judged by how she looks. Physical appearance still appears to be the chief criterion on which women are judged despite having other credentials and career achievements.

She has been using her social media platforms to voice her political opinions, and his invited the claim from a conservative MP suggesting she couldn’t be a serious political commentator and then showcase her physical attributes on Instagram as well. He later reconsidered his choice of words, but the damage had been done. It illustrated how many men view women – you can be in one category or the other but you can’t do both.

‘Zendaya dressed up her baggy boyfriend jeans with a super tight corset and new Bob haircut’ [People]

Zendaya has been given heaps of praise for her acting roles, and she has also displayed a penchant for cutting edge fashion ensembles. She is super-skinny – Twiggy-like. With a plethora of red carpet appearances, one wonders if it’ this nubile image which is being celebrated the most.

Yet the beauty of womanhood is how multi-faceted and complex we are and can be. We still have  a far way to go in how women are portrayed. The reality is we can be skinny or curvaceous, work in or outside the home, have children or not, be CEO’s or entry level company employees, but we can still all be hard-working and fabulous! Let’s hope that this time next year there will be less said about the physical appearance of those women hitting the headlines, and more about their intelligence, warmth, wit, kindness and courage. It’s high time we freed women to be all they can be!

Physical appearance still appears to be the chief criterion on which women are judged despite having other credentials and career achievements.

Carla Cornelius

Dr Carla seeks to bring a fresh and thought-provoking perspective to today's popular culture. With her Ph.D. in Biblical Counselling, she invites readers to see the relevance of the Bible in addressing the difficult and disturbing issues of our times.