Being beautiful can be a curse for young women - some of whom are seen as nothing more than replaceable trophies, writes Khaya Dlanga.
I have never been a woman and am highly unlikely to ever become one either. But from the stories I hear, it's rough out there for women.
People are generally attracted to good-looking people, and want to hang around and be associated with them – it's human nature. This is why everyone wants to be good looking – it's to give themselves some sort of perceived advantage in society. Which is what makes Woody Allen's quote particularly apt: "I'm short enough and ugly enough to succeed on my own." Allen knew that so-called unattractive people have to work harder to succeed. Perhaps this is the reason some men look at beautiful women and offer them easy lives.
Men with money offer beautiful women in this city of lights many things. They are careless with their money, but the carelessness is not a genuine abandonment, it is an act designed to trap and snatch. The women they snatch become nothing more than trophies, like an expensive car they might have decided to buy on a whim. And the women are as replaceable – once they have been discarded, they have to figure out how to live without depending on someone.
The temptations for beautiful women come at them fast and furious. For some of them, their beauty, as welcome as it may be, becomes a curse. They have to face men who offer them one thing or another, a flight, a car, a holiday, even apartments. For someone who is struggling to make ends meet but receives these offers all the time, it becomes more than a just a temptation.
But they start questioning whether people see more than their beauty. They are faced with the idea that they can't do anything for themselves, that they can't make money on their own. Or, they are too beautiful to be working, "I will take care of you baby." All you have to do is stay the way you are and you will be taken care of, no need to work.
I recently had a conversation with a young woman who told me about a friend of hers who was taken to one of the countries around the Mediterranean by a man who called her up and told her that they can go there for the weekend. They arrived there and the man wanted to have sex with her – since he'd flown her there, he expected to get some. When the woman refused, he booked her on to the next flight back the following day. She flew back economy class, mind you, not business class as she did when flying there.
Beautiful, young women often complain about male managers. They say these men have a tendency to act as if the women are somehow entitled to them. I have heard some horror stories about how they will ill-treat female subordinates who don't give them what they want, so much so that some feel they have no choice but to look for employment elsewhere.
We should encourage young women to work hard and for them to know that they are not just seen as trophies and fragile things that can't look after themselves. Many of my role models are women. They are powerful, strong and beautiful. There is no need for women to apologise nor feel that they must have someone take care of them. It is an insult to their intelligence. This is why I look up to women such as Khanyi Dhlomo, who has worked hard to get to where she is, relying on her smarts. It's a characteristic we can all learn.