It’s no secret that I’m an overweight, pale, blonde girl. I wear double digit clothing sizes, makeup that is literally labeled “translucent” and have hair so light I would appear to have lesser eyebrows than Whoopi Goldberg. In other words I could moonlight as a beer wench at Oktoberfest any day of the week.
Yet my entire life people have treated me as if I were somehow unaware of my appearance. Phrases like “the South Beach Diet would work perfect for you!” and “OMG, like, what’s with your skin?” have been thrown at me since I was five and a girl on the playground told me I looked like an apple, a body type label that has stuck with me throughout adulthood.
In high school I spent many nights lying awake in my bed thinking about every part of my body that was flawed. My hair was too thick, my brow bone too strong, cheeks too chubby, arms too flabby, boobs too big, boobs too small, skin too broken out, stomach too big, thighs too thick, legs too short, skin too pale, hips too wide, butt too small, feet too arched, etc. Every part of my appearance was a disappointment to me and the constant reminder via CW dramas, flawless high school peers, and thoughtless family members and strangers, that there was a better alternative to me and all of my imperfections, that I could never and would never physically attain, made me ache inside to see a reflection that was no reflection of me. It was this kind of mindset which made me value being told I was “pretty” as a greater compliment than being told I was “smart, funny, kind, talented, creative,” etc.
It has been six years since high school graduation but I have only in the last two started to feel like I am not some kind of mangled rawhide, covered in slobber and dog hair, lying on the floor of an illegal puppy mill in Idaho. Vivid, I know. But perception evolves with the passage of time and what I couldn’t see when I was in high school is that I am actually pretty. Not to everyone of course, but to myself.
But my reason for writing this has nothing to do with how gorgeous I think my hair is now or how classy I think my pale skin is, and how even though I need to lose some weight for health purposes, I no longer want to be thin. I’m writing this because I think the biggest problem with the issue of beauty is that beauty doesn’t actually exist. Beauty is an intangible perception of something else that cannot be proven, but merely argued. Which leads me to my next point: the sickness of comparative beauty.
There’s a strange movement right now in our culture. On one hand, models look more emaciated than ever, and on the other women like Christina Hendricks are garnering mad attention for their naturally curvy bodies. Pictures like this are being passed around the internet:
While I can grasp that this is trying to send a positive message that thicker girls are just as sexy, if not sexier to some than skinny girls, I hate the fact that we need to tear one group down to lift up another. I also hate that the definition of female beauty is being dictated by the men who date them, designers who dress them, and people like Perez Hilton. I also hate that instead of rebelling against this system, we women allow it and promote it by being competitive with other women, diminishing each other for our differences. And lastly I hate that in a world of increased eating disorders, skin cancer rates, and deaths related to cosmetic surgery, we live in a culture that still promotes the constant alteration of our bodies. Viewing our faces and our bodies as blank slates for culture to imprint all over is a recipe for self-destruction.
Forget the fact that a few centuries ago artists would have had a throw down over who gets to paint me naked, in today’s society, I and so many other girls are not considered the “ideal” for one reason or another. But the fact is, that even despite the after-school special undertones of what I’m about to say, everyone is beautiful to someone, in their own way. Blonde or brunette, curvy or thin, fair, or tan or black, or whatever other generalized term we can create to label ourselves, everyone is beautiful because they are different. Because there are no two people EXACTLY alike. Because no person will ever be duplicated. Everyone is the master copy of themselves, which makes us each pretty undeniably special. And sometimes being special is actually better than being just like everything else.
So before you tan your skin to make it look more like someone else’s, or dye your hair to fit in with the trends, just think about the fact that you are the only person in the world with that skin color and that hair, and by choosing to make it some other color, you are choosing to say goodbye to one of the things that makes you unique. Let’s all learn to accept each other and ourselves for who we are so we can all live together in fat, skinny, ugly, pretty, peace.
And remember, real women have confidence, and sometimes that’s all we needs.
The girl still working on the confidence thing