Very busy with Friendsgiving today, so to free up some of my time I’m posting some old writing. I hope you enjoy these stream of consciousness observations about beauty that I wrote down over 5 years ago, and please let me know your thoughts on this topic too.
I’ve never considered myself to be truly ‘beautiful.’ Perhaps that’s sad, but I think it’s a truth for many women. Sure, we may look in the mirror every so often and think (or even say) ‘damn, I look good’ but it’s typically right before we think ‘except…’ Readjusting, squeezing, primping, plucking, masking, and the list goes on – we’re never quite right and there’s always something more to be done. I’m sure that the pressure exists for men as well, and perhaps it’s not fair that it’s socially acceptable for females to slather on cover up or maneuver ourselves into body shapers while the males have to just deal with the hand they’ve been dealt, but the fact remains that this type of self-manipulation is expected and celebrated.
What’s worse is the fact that these manipulations aren’t even promoting real beauty. For example, when you look at a beautiful landscape it’s not typically ‘perfect’ – there are scars, flaws, variations – it’s the whole, the wide view lens, and the act of taking it all in that leaves you gazing on in wonder. We typically have this type of appreciation for others all the while examining our own reflection with magnification. This excessive scrutiny is taking over lives and confusing onlookers; even I have no idea why I give my attention and admiration to some of the examples I do…
I saw a picture on Facebook, well actually three of them, of an acquaintance of mine and one of her friends – now, this acquaintance is gorgeous by anyone’s standards (thin, tone, tan, etc…) but next to her friend she looked heavy and frumpy. The friend struck the same, seemingly pre-practiced pose in all three pictures – this girl was extremely thin, to the point that from the side her breast implants were obvious (being the only visible curve aside from her butt, which she was promoting with an uncomfortable arch of her lower back), her tan was unnaturally dark, her hair unnaturally long, and her gaze (which never met the camera) and expression lacked any life at all… This poor girl looked so manipulated and fake that it made me uncomfortable, and yet her ‘perfectly’ poised self somehow managed to cast a shadow over my acquaintance’s usually glorious physique. It made me sad; sad for the friend because it was horribly obvious that her own insecurities had been magnified to the point of completely controlling her, and sad for my acquaintance because she was being compared with an example like this.
I hope to never look like that friend in that picture, yet when I look in the mirror I’m examining my flaws and adjusting my appearance just as I’m sure she does (albeit, not to the same extremes). Why do I allow myself to be influenced this way? Why is it that it’s more difficult for me to pick out things I like about my appearance than it is to find things I don’t?