I saw the above video shared a few times on Facebook, but never clicked “play” because I thought it would be just another thing a la Dove Beauty Campaign. Well, thank goodness I came across it today because this ish is good!
I came across this post on Thought Catalog by Brianna Wiest called “18 Things Women In Their Lives That Hold Them Back,” and the video I’ve just shared with all of you above is used as a segue between numbers six and seven.
6. The idea that once a certain appearance is achieved, happiness will be as well. Only having love for yourself when you look a certain way isn’t genuinely loving your body. Check out these women who were made up, photographed and edited to look like the “cover models” they wanted to be, and watch their reactions afterward.
7. The idea that there’s only one concept of “beauty,” and it’s the kind you see in the magazines. Whenever I hear a woman say, “Oh, she’s so beautiful!” I think, according to who? You? Society? Which society? Me? Check out these beauty standards from around the world, and how the ideal (Western) body has changed in just 100 years alone.
We have all been there: On a weight loss journey where we’re trying to get down to that magic number (whether it be 160lbs, 115lbs or 145lbs) because we saw in a magazine that our Body Mass Index (BMI) was too high and we have a history of cancer, diabetes, heart failure and high blood pressure in our family. There’s a lot of pressure to get to that weight. We work out like crazy, we don’t eat cheese because it’s high in fat (I like eating full fat cheese, though), we change from eating regular eggs to just egg whites (I like to dip bread in my yolk, though), we slowly omit carbohydrates in our diets (unless, of course, they’re “complex,” even though a slice of white bread will never be second best) and we hope and pray all along the way that once we get to that magic number, we’ll finally be able to love ourselves because we’ll have reached a goal that society says we should strive to reach.
Beauty is subjective.
Yes, I try to eat as healthy as I can because of my family history (so many peeps have illnesses that can be prevented or at least prolonged). Yes, I work out every day (but I do things I enjoy too, like yoga and playing soccer and uh, walking. Have you ever walked to work blasting “Cry Me A River?” It’s so therapeutic). Yes, I feel awesome whenever my size six pants fit me without me having to suck in my gut (but I have size eight and size 10 pants that fit me just the same). And yes, I’ve been there (and sometimes still am there): Feeling fat because I ate a doughnut or an extra slice of pizza. Or, maybe, because I drank a full bottle of wine at a cousin’s wedding (or shared three). Throughout all of these moments, though, I have to constantly remind myself that I’m just living.
If I went through every single day and didn’t have a piece of dark chocolate, I don’t know what I would do with myself. I enjoy having that piece of chocolate at around 2:30/3:00pm with a big cup of green or peppermint tea. I enjoy having a slice of bread after indulging in a fresh plate of pasta. I like making cupcakes with my mom and then eating the batter after. #Sorrynotsorry!
How we look on the outside isn’t always a reflection of how we feel on the inside. As Beyoncé put so eloquently in her jam “Pretty Hurts,” the soul is often the thang that needs surgery, not our bodies.
Our bodies can be poked at and dyed. They can be changed and pierced. But, can can we ask a doctor or a pharmacist to give us something to shrink or tan the feelings we have when we fall short of an athletic, fitness, weight or beauty standard and fail to cope as best as we should? We need healthy coping mechanisms, whether they be going to therapy, starting a blog, listening to music, certain meditation practices, etc., to kick all these feelings to the ground and start anew. To start believing in the beautiful people we are, regardless of what we were told the “b” word means.
This goes for all genders out there, too.
Beauty can also mean power. Recently, my grandmother asked me if I worked with all women. Keep in mind, my grandmother is 74-years-old and was born in a small town in Italy where their source of running water is from a mountain. They also sell their own livestock as a way to make money. It’s a beautiful village, but is very different than North America. My grandmother is a beautiful woman with a lot of sass. However, when I explained that I did work with predominantly women, she rolled her eyes and said, “Do they walk around pretending they know everything meanwhile, they don’t do anything at all?” Even more recently she made a comment about how us women demand to be liberated (with negativity in her tone, of course), followed by, “Men don’t even hold the door open for us anymore because we want to be equal.” I answered, “Well, I’d rather open my own door than be expected to succumb to a man just because he’s a man.”
It’s really hard to take a deep breath when she says these comments and try to explain that we’re in a different time, where, thankfully, us ladies can be successful and have ambition and even change the world – just like men (and several women and people of other genders) have and can.
For the future of all of us, I want my potential children to be able to work hard and be evaluated equally for the same jobs, for the same opportunities. To ensure our world stays on this path, it’s up to all of us – not just women – to fight for everyone’s rights and standards, regardless of how superficial certain ones may seem. I want to continue to make my own decisions. I want to continue to have the ability to control my life’s path. I don’t want to feel I have to be married by a certain age or pop out a kid a few years after that. I don’t want to just settle for a job when I know that I’ m capable of more.
You do too, I assume?