Since I was a little girl I have been aware of woman being unhappy with their self image, wishing they were skinnier or a certain feature wasn’t how it was. Often I would listen to the woman in my own life pick themselves apart and be confused. I thought they were beautiful and usually what ever feature they were bashing was something I had hoped I would be lucky enough to obtain as I grew into a woman. I wasn’t being influenced by Barbie or the latest Disney princess. I was being influenced by the women in my family, the ones I interacted with daily. It was from them that I was being taught how I should judge my own beauty.
I can remember comments being made to the younger generation about being sorry that certain ‘unflattering’ features were passed on to them, or that they were lucky that they didn’t have to deal with a flaw they had. Without really setting out to consciously pass down a code of beauty, one was passed down. Like societies code it was not focused on feeling good about who you are and being healthy. It was about tearing yourself apart and doing whatever it took to fit unrealistic beauty ideals. It was heartbreaking to watch growing up. The foundation laid by the women I grew up with effected how I let what society was saying about beauty play a role in how I felt about myself.
The biggest obstacle in finding beauty in the mirror is that society teaches us to focus on what we don’t have and to criticize those women who feel good about what they were naturally given. Girls with straight hair wish they had the volume and versatility that comes with curls, while those curly girls look enviously at their straight hair friends. Yet when a girl openly admits that she loves her natural hair she is faced with criticism (behind her back of course) about how that hair isn’t as great as she thinks it is. So go on and feel good about yourself, just not to good that you don’t have a handful of features you are ready to criticize about yourself. Never do you walk into a public girls bathroom and hear a bunch of comments about how good they think they look as they primp in front of the mirror. How dare we ever become that vain.
I don’t think we should all walk around exclaiming how hot we look to everyone and anyone that will listen but we should be able to look at ourselves in the mirror and think ‘I’m totally loving me today!’ without the fear that we are being way to full of ourselves and resort to focusing on our flaws. We have all been dealt a different hand and we don’t have to love everything about ourselves but we shouldn’t let those features we don’t love dictate how we feel about ourselves overall. And we certainly need to stop projecting our own insecurities onto other woman through criticizing how they look. Even typing those words I can feel the crushing weight of my own need to follow that advice. I am insecure about my own lack of girliness so when I see the over the top girly girl walking past me my opinions of her are never that high. “She is a complete airhead” or “Why does she need to be so trashy. We get it, you have a vagina.” are some of the nicer things that cross my mind. I know nothing about that girl other than she knows how to pull herself together and can spend the day in heels. I love a good heel but I prefer a combat boot or my chucks more. I also rather spend the day in a t-shirt and jeans than anything fancier. Instead of embracing what makes me feel the most comfortable in my skin, I feel like my less feminine daily attire somehow makes me less feminine. Yet when I try to dress more along the lines of how I think I am supposed to dress as a woman, I feel uncomfortable and miserable.
Right now the internet is inundated with anti-photoshop articles encouraging woman to fight societies unrealistic beauty standards by just being yourself. I loved Colbie Caillat’s latest video for her song Try. The song talks about not doing anything just so someone will like you, asking if when you take your make up off and look in the mirror do you like what you see? I also support the Brave Girls Want campaign, which is challenging companies like Disney to stop sexualizing young female characters that are targeted to young girls. I think all of these things are great and are necessary in encouraging females of all ages to embrace what makes them uniquely beautiful. However they all but the blame on big industries and the men that come up with these unrealistic ideals of beauty. Although they do need to be held accountable, so do we. Each and every woman needs to take responsibility for how we effect the next generation of woman through how we talk about ourselves in front of them, how we talk about other women in front of them. We need to make sure we are giving our daughters the encouragement and foundation they need to see through the ridiculous beauty standards society is trying to set for them. We have the power to change the industry, but we can only do it by changing how we see ourselves and like that little Indian man said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
As always thanks for reading,
Some great links to check out…
Colbie Caillat‘s video for Try