I will never have a thigh gap because my thighs are far too busy being awesome to worry about staying two inches away from each other at all times. I will never have perfect beachy curls because ponytails are preferable over spending two hours fussing around with my hair. I cannot recreate Emma Stone’s red carpet cat-eye without making myself look like a raccoon. I am not 100% cellulite free and never will be, even if I lose ten more pounds. I’m slightly too short. If not for Victoria’s Secret, I’d never have cleavage; even with the help, I don’t have much to speak of. Like most people, I can rattle off a long list of things that can be called faults about my physical appearance.
None of us are perfect. Hours spent getting hair and makeup professionally done, the magic of photoshop, and perfect lighting can definitely give us the illusion of perfection though. Tricks and tweaks take beauty and turn it into something wholly unattainable. Various entertainment sites give us “Celebrities Without Makeup” articles to help us feel better, but when faced with perfect magazine covers of smiling faces and flawless skin, it’s hard to remember what is real and what is manufactured. We see Heidi Klum’s perfect body a week after she’s had a child and wonder why we’ve been unable to shed the baby weight after months of effort. We get roped into this crazy idea that the celebrity image is both something we are able to attain and something we should be actively striving for.
Even when the rich and famous are taken out of the equation, we find other people to compare ourselves to and are left feeling as if we don’t measure up. I’m guilty of looking at strangers, friends, and even family members and wondering why I can’t either replicate a certain look, carry off a certain style, or possess a certain feature. While it’s rare for me to do it now, it still happens every so often. On the flip side, I’ve had people throw me compliments while simultaneously insulting themselves by throwing in the “why can’t I” comment. It was flattering to me at one point in my life, but when it happens now, I just find it sad.
Society is getting pickier by the day about what real beauty is and who qualifies as a true beautiful person. As the world around us narrows its gaze, we narrow our own and become hyper-critical of ourselves, driving ourselves crazy in the pursuit of someone else’s idea of perfection. Kim Kardashian gets all the attention in the world because of her “assets,” so we kill ourselves doing squats and go broke using creams in order to force our own body do something it cannot. We put so much time and effort into obtaining a piece of this person and a chunk of someone else that we forget what’s truly important: simply being ourselves.
It sounds cliché because it is, but that doesn’t make it any less true or any less important. Beauty isn’t something that should be so specific in definition that it only includes a small, elite group. Beauty should be something that we are able to find in anything and anyone. Regardless of what the popular standard of beauty is, every single one of us should be able to look into a mirror, smile at our reflection, and consider ourselves to be a beautiful person. No one should be made to feel less than anyone else, especially over some superficial nonsense like hairstyle or dress size.
I encourage each and every one of you to knock it off from this day forward. If you’re like me and unable to pull off a crazy pair of short shorts, stop trying to wear something that isn’t right for you and go find something that is. Spend five seconds mourning the fact that you and I can’t share Taylor Swift’s wardrobe and let’s move on together. Put yourself together every morning in your own image, not the one on the cover of Cosmo. Take all the time you used to waste on worrying if you’re too skinny or too fat and use it to do something positive for yourself. Whether it’s a trip to the spa or a trip to the firing range, get out and do what makes you feel amazing. This is something I still haven’t fully mastered myself. I get insecure at times; we all do and we all will in the days to come. What we need to do is accept these feelings for what they are, and let them go as quickly as they come. We can’t control the person we are, but we can control the way we feel about ourselves.