We seem to be living in a world where perfection is the new black, our looks not only matter, but they tell a story. No wonder why my recent obsession with the way I look has led me to google symptoms of body dysmorphia. And no, I don’t have it! I am just simply worrying (when not panicking) about ageing and the effect it's having on me. To be fair, I believe I am not the only one. This cult is not new though, it has only changed its cover. From time to time, society decides what beautiful is, and we simply follow it - no questions asked! Why??
I guess my Instagram feed is not helping! Damn you Instagram!!! Displays of beautiful girls with their perfect bodies and faces are making me more insecure than ever. There - I said it! And yes, I am aware some pictures are photo shopped, filtered or whatever, but it doesn’t help the way I feel about them. More often than I wish, I start comparing myself with all these women showcasing “what it seems” the ideal beauty of this time - perfect smooth skin, sharp jawlines, perfect pouts, small waist, flat abs, toned arms...
It really feels like the beauty and fitness industries are totally hijacking my emotions. I am so into the idea of being perfectly beautiful that I am working out my facial and body ratios (LOL) . And I am serious! Who is laughing now? “Mathematical beauty” apparently, is a thing and can determine your level of attractiveness - No kidding!
Don’t get me wrong - some women out there are doing a good job motivating and inspiring others to become better versions of themselves but with all this celebrity culture going on it is becoming harder and harder to get a grasp on reality.
Who wakes up looking drop dead gorgeous? Certainly not me!
Anyway, I don’t mean to nag and start blaming the world of social media for the way we behave. I am totally guilty of wanting to share only the “best version of me”, which makes me a fucking hypocrite! Yes, I take hundreds of snaps before selecting “the one” and so you know it doesn’t stop there, I then enhance my images to pitch perfect before releasing them to the digital world. Beautiful sells, right!?
When you look good, you feel good and that brings up your inner confidence - very true but what does looking good mean? What is a beauty? Tall, skinny and blonde? Short, black and curvy? Curly hair, brunette with big breasts? Who gets to decide what is beautiful? Society? The editor of a fashion magazine? Who?
"She has such a pretty face, she would look so much better if she lost some weight".
"Jane has really small breasts, she would look more proportional if she had them enhanced".
"Jeez, have you seen that girl’s nose? It's huge!"
And please don’t roll your eyes...who has never made such comments!? (I shall answer that for you: Mother Teresa!) We judge we judge, we judge and then we judge some more.
I am really not here to lecture anyone on how we should behave, especially when I am also accountable for the same behaviour. But can we stop for just a second and think why are we so bothered to fit in? Are we scared to be different? Or “ugly”?
A little story for you...My mum and dad had 3 girls, 2 brunettes with straight hair and 1 blonde with curly hair. As you may know by now (or not), I was born in Brazil, a country full of diversity but believe me when I say this, racism over there is more common than you think. In a country where 50.7% of the population defined themselves as black or mixed race in a 2010 census, it's a bit odd that your hair type can still label you. What I mean by that is that a woman with curly or Afro hair is somehow seen with a different pair of eyes by society - they don't fit the 'norm' stereotype.
Understandably my white, blonde, green-eyed little sister hated her curly hair! Her mind associated curly with ugly and straight with pretty. She would cry and ask mum why her hair was different than her sisters - 'It's not fair', she would say while sobbing'.
Thankfully after many attempts to straighten her hair (it almost caught fire once) in her teenage years, she grew out of it.
In a world where only the “beautiful ones” make it to the magazine covers or get to have a gazillion followers on Instagram, it's becoming frustrating to be a woman these days. On one hand we are fighting for being what the hell we want, while on the other we give in and follow the crowd. If Afro hair is not seen as cool, then the pressure to get it to straighten becomes high. If you are not a size zero, you are expected to diet. And God forbid you have cellulite!
It pains me to say this, we demand women to be real and honest about their looks, but then when they are, we reject them. Diversity - that’s what we need, we need more of what is different to be spread around. Our differences are what makes us unique, so why are we not embracing it? Why? Is this really a viable concept? Or maybe am I the only one who thinks this would solve the problem...
Let’s raise our hands to self-care, not obsession! It’s okay to want to look after ourselves and feel good about it, what is not okay is when we take extreme measures just to follow trends.
“ Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” - proverb
I would love to know what you think about this subject? Do you feel pretty? Are you obsessing about a part of your body? Are you anxious about what others think of your looks?
Please share your story, it may help others.
Understanding Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): is a mental disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived imperfections in your face or body - You will constantly obsess about your appearance and body image. Common behaviour includes: checking yourself in the mirror repeatedly, excessive grooming, seeking unnecessary surgery etc.
If you suspect that you or a friend are suffering from BDD please seek help. Unfortunately, there are many of us suffering in silence.