I swear, Sarah on Yes and Yes is a total genius. I feel like we would be best friends if we met (Sarah, if for some wild reason you a reading this, please don't think I'm a creepy, shack in the woods stalker. I just love your style of writing and have that weird instinctive feeling that we'd hit it off. Also, we both love linguistics!) Her post today on the various merits and demerits of conventional physical beauty really gave me a moment of pause.
I could go on about how "society" imposes all these impossible standards of beauty on women, but the truth is that these standards have always been around, just in different forms. A large part of the characterization of the players in Jane Eyre (a novel published in 1847!) has to do with their physical attributes and the lack or presence of the day's standard of beauty.
So, you see, this is not a new thing.
My amazement comes from the fact that we as women impose these impossible standards on ourselves. Of this, I am certainly not the least guilty. I spent the past two summers completely miserable and self-concious because I felt, not only that I was too fat to walk around in a swim suit, but that my face wasn't pretty enough to make up for it.
How neurotic is that!?
My problem has always been comparing myself to those around me. Her face is prettier than mine. Her boobs are bigger. She's thinner. I know that the ideal of the Victoria Secret model is unattainable. That standard of beauty really does not exist in nature. However, I figure that if I can be friends with someone prettier than me, that I should be able to be that pretty. Because, she's real! There's nothing airbrushed about someone sitting right next to me!
It's hard to accept that there are things about ourselves that we can't change. The picture above is me as I naturally am: no makeup, no hair dye, no photoshopping. There have been times that this has bummed me out. However, I have found that the more I value myself as an intellectual being, the more that I respect my own feelings and personality, the less I worry about my physical attributes. Sure, I can't change my nose...but I also can't change my crazy witch laugh (inherited from my mother), something that I wouldn't give up for the world. Because it's me, it's something that makes me unique.
Besides, I would much rather be known for positive personality traits than physical beauty. As much as we try to fight it off, we will all age and beauty will fade or change into something different. My youth will only last for a little while longer, but I will always be me and I'd really like to learn to love myself now. ♥