“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools or oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you have a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative [and beautiful] life, of imagination and radical silliness. It’s going to break your heart.” – Anne Lamott
There are songs about it. There are videos circulating the internet about it. There are Pin-spiration quotes. There are magazine articles written about it. Studies over it. Conversations. Presentations. Lectures. Movements dedicated to helping women to accept their bodies. I can’t help but wonder when women are going to stop striving towards an unattainable and manufactured ideal crafted by an industry founded on a $56 billion revenue (in 2013 alone).
That’s a lot of shampoo, lotions, perfumes, diet pills, eyeliner, tanning memberships, fitness clothes, and waxing appointments for the beautiful ladies of the United States to be purchasing each year for the sake of living up to someone else’s standard of beauty. It is not only an industry, it is comparing ourselves to another person’s interpretation of beauty. They are determining how we view ourselves and how we interpret each other – whether it’s a stranger we pass by on the street or our best friend or even our mothers – who could all be construed by the media as ‘ugly’ or ‘fat’ in some form or fashion.
Nobody calls my momma fat or ugly. Better yet, nobody calls me fat or ugly.
From seeing the positive in all situations by writing down what makes me happy every day to crafting outfits from essentially the discarded garbage from people’s closets – I’m not exactly adhering the norms of everyone else around me. But every day I find myself questioning my body, my hair, or my facial features and wondering, “Am I even pretty?” and most of the time the voice in my head – essentially someone else’s voice – is saying no.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
When I stand in front of the mirror and I look at my body – I’m not worried about it. I think my eyes look nice (sans mascara), I can feel the strength in my legs that I’ve been cultivating in yoga, my hair is finally long (for me), and I can look at it with love (most of the time) rather than disdain. But place me beside another woman and I’ll scrutinize, compare, contrast, and dissect every small difference between us and end up feeling like a terribly misshapen troll.
For what? What purpose does this serve anyone? By cutting ourselves down – are we helping anyone? By placing one person on a pedestal and another on the dirty ground are we not encouraging a caste system of sorts in the realm of the beauty world?
At 23, I feel as if I have two options. Love my body now and embrace it for everything that it can and can’t do, that it will and won’t be, and learn that self-love radiates more than any self-tanning lotion could ever. Or, do I continue hating it, trying to change it, alter it to match someone else, and spend an unnecessary amount of time worrying about my thigh gap (or lack there of) until I realize the former to be true.
Hm. Let me think.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” – Says everyone, ever.
So I’m cultivating my own sense of beauty. Fuck, if I’m going to develop my own sense of style and way of thinking, shouldn’t my standard of beauty also be self-tailored to my own ideals? So here it is, not for your judgement or your adoption of it, but for myself.
Beauty is drinking beer because you love it and not giving a damn about your belly. It’s putting on red lipstick and nothing else, because even on your worst days a smile is all you need. It’s hair that may or may not have been combed or may or may not be dried with a hairdryer or the wind out of your open window in the middle of Texas summer. It’s natural skin tanned by the sun or pale like the moon. Curves in all the right places and all the wrong places – the difference is knowing when to flaunt them. Clothes that you feel good in, that you can sit down comfortably in, or high five in, or bend over in, or cuddle in.
Beauty is knowing what makes you beautiful. For me, I have a mind, a witty sense of humor, big boobs, strong legs, and sense of who I am and who I want to become. I am a babe because I choose to be one, not because someone told me that I am.
beau·ty: (from dictionary.com)
1. the quality present in a thing or person that gives deep satisfaction to the mind
2. a beautiful person or thing of beauty
3. What you decide to define it as.