I have never been all that comfortable with my body or my looks, I know you are all already thinking this is a strange post considering where it is posted (ie. the affiliation), but bear with me and follow along, it all ties together I promise. For as long as I can remember I have had people in my life, family, friends, boys, men, girls, women make comments about my weight and my looks, I wish I could say it started later than it did, but the comments started to filter through to me at a pretty young age. I’m not sure why anyone feels comfortable or that it is their right, telling or making young people feel that, well honestly, that they aren’t good enough in some way, in any way?! But, I digress that’s a different post.
As I got older the most common comment would go along the lines of, “You have a pretty face and you’re a sweet girl, but have you ever thought about losing a few pounds?”…I mean seriously?! And, no joke, I actually had a woman say that to me in an interview I had once for a retail job…nope not even kidding it really happened. Here’s the thing though, I have never really understood it, I have never really understood what people think they should see when they look at me? I mean I am not petite, but I’m not really big either, I would say I am pretty average and I am me, who else am I supposed to be?
I struggled a long time and from a very young age with this. Through the years I tried lots of stuff, including not eating or eating VERY little (not my finest days), exercise, diet, etc. I have seriously tried just about everything, but no matter how much I lost or what I looked like, people still always made comments. At some point I just got comfortable with being uncomfortable, sad really when I think about it, but it’s the truth.
It wasn’t really until I had my daughter 2 years ago and was at the heaviest I have ever been, ironic really, that I started to come to terms with my body and my looks. Why? Well, honestly I don’t want my daughter to pick up my insecurities as her own and I most definitely never want to know I am the cause of any of hers. I want her to know and truly believe that no matter what, she is good enough, she is beautiful (both inside and out) and I want her to see me, her mom, as a strong role model in that.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have my insecurities…trust me! But, I try not to let them rule me anymore or stop me from doing things, going places, wearing certain clothes (there are some things still, I will never be caught dead in – like booty shorts – but, who doesn’t have those no-go fashion trauma, to both you the wearer and the observer(s), outfits?). Are there things I would love to change about my body, well sure there are, but you know what, right now they just aren’t my focus, one day they will be and all of this in a round-about way brings me to the true topic of this post…
There are several campaigns popping up in the media (both social and traditional) with a focus on squashing the wayward and unrealistic media portrayal of beauty. Most of them talk of being bold, going bare; whether that means completely nude, or simply dressed and no make-up, but the common thread is go bare and show who you really are, be you. I love the theme behind these movements and support them, but can’t help, but think that there may be something missing in the messaging. We can all gather the courage to go bare in one way or another, but does that really accomplish what the collective message and goal ultimately should be?
In my opinion the message we really need to focus on and tie into these campaigns is, be your own beautiful. You may wonder exactly, what the difference between this and what all the other messages out there are and I’ll tell you. By telling a woman or man to be you, be yourself, but then providing guidelines as to what that image or portrayal should be, defeats the ultimate purpose and then all you are doing is the same thing Hollywood, magazines, the fashion industry, etc. are doing and that is pigeonholing the idea to one set of beliefs on what beauty is and how it should be portrayed.
Whereas, if you tell someone to be their own beautiful, you are telling them, just be, just be who you are, however that may come and whatever that might look like. THAT is when beauty truly shines through, when a person is given permission to just be completely themselves, to be their own beautiful. For some this may mean getting all dolled up and dressed to the nines, for some this may mean no fuss at all (au natural), for some it may mean a little prep or maintenance work along the way with either (or both) surgical or non-surgical options. Does it really matter though? Dr. Khanna famously answers the question whenever she is asked, “Do I NEED Cosmetic Surgery?” with, “Nobody NEEDS Cosmetic Surgery.” Ultimately, should we not be free to be our own beautiful? To just be?
When I look in the mirror I don’t see what others do, sometimes what I see is honestly better and sometimes it’s worse, but every day, or most (what? a girl needs a couple free and lazy days) I wake up and dress for myself in whatever makes me feel good that day (and I promise you after trying once, it does not include those new age elastic corset type contraptions…Ouch! I like to breath, thank you!), I do my makeup and sometimes (rarely – because I hate doing this part) I do my hair, but when I walk out of my front door I try to be and want to be the example of being my own kind of beautiful.