Most of us women move throughout our lives, ever comparing ourselves to airbrushed Instagram Influencers, magazine models, and digitally altered advertisements. We long to have the body of that surgically enhanced celebrity, or look like that movie star. If we could get out makeup just so, or if we were able to work out several more hours, we might get those abs, or if we paid ten grand, we could have those breasts, and then everything would be great. We will finally be hot enough, acceptable enough, worthy enough. We will finally be enough.
This is why so many women feel insecure, terrible about, and hate themselves on a routine basis. Because they are measuring themselves against something that isn’t real, that isn’t natural, that isn’t authentic. We measure ourselves against a fantasy, not reality.
Social media is part of the culprit. Prior to cell phones, computers, and social media, we measured ourselves against the small handful of women we knew in our lives and social circles. You know, real women. With the advent of smartphones and social media, though, now most of us are comparing ourselves to thousands of women every single day, many of whom are not even natural, authentic, real examples of beauty.
This has led to a lot of women today feeding into the messages of consumer culture, which are that you must look a certain way (and, a very narrow, homogenized, unrealistic way at that) in order to be “good enough,” in order to be “worthwhile,” in order to be seen by society and men. In order to be acceptable and desirable.
Many women will spend the entirety of their lives chasing this perceived ideal, spending hours of their days fixating on their looks, whole afternoons and evenings in the gym trying to tone and flatten, boatloads of money on lotions and serums, more money on makeup to alter their appearance, and some even go to extremes such as via surgery.
This is largely a result of comparing ourselves to fake, airbrushed, surgically enhances, falsified images.
This is both incredibly sad, it’s a recipe for living a life laden with feeling insecure and never good enough, for experiencing perpetually up and down emotions, and a colossal waste of time.
It’s also a way of fueling consumer culture further. If you keep feeling insecure and ugly, and thus, spending money and time to try and not feel that way, they stay in business.
It’s also a means of keeping to Patriarchy and men being the more powerful sex, very much alive. If women stay in the position of struggling and yearning to look the “right way” so that men and society will approve of and “want” them? This keeps women distracted and scrambling, it keeps them spending resources such as money and time on this frivolous pursuit. It keeps them at the mercy of both men and society.
It also means that women allow men and society to dictate what is beautiful and what isn’t. It means women allow men and society to call the shots about how they should look and how they should feel about themselves. All of this keeps the status quo right how it is. Women as insecure, lesser than, distracted, and ever attempting to appeal to men and the culture at large. While men get to stay at the top, dictate what is hot or not, and do the more interesting, important stuff.
Ladies, one significant step towards feeling better about your body?
Towards realizing that the vast majority of real women, of natural female bodies are not rail-thin with a stacked chest, a perky butt, and a perfect face?
Get naked with other women.
With a variety of women. Women of different ages, ethnicities, and body types. Go skinny dipping with a group of them. Dare to change in the locker room regularly and look around. Go to a nude beach. Check out artwork with varied examples of the female form. Shun “beauty” magazines, Instagram Influencers, and all these homogenized, fake images that only make you feel less than.
You will soon see that real women? They are all different sizes and shapes. And none of them look like Barbie dolls or Playboys Bunnies (unless they’ve had surgery, which then isn’t real, natural, or authentic sexiness. It’s fake, plastic, and purchased).
To start feeling better about yourself, stop looking at this stuff. It will not make you feel any better about yourself. It will only fuel your insecurity and make you feel worse. Stop yearning to look like a celebrity or model or movie star. They don’t really look like that. They’ve likely had plastic surgery, and, the images you see of them are digitally altered.
In the words of Cheryl Strayed (author of the incredible memoir, Wild), “none of the important ways to be beautiful are constructed.”
Some women do not figure this out until middle age. Some women never figure it out and spend their lives in pursuit of and anxious chase of this falsified, culturally dictated, narrow “beauty” ideal, in order to try and feel good about themselves.
And a rare few, they figure it out, and they live far happier, less anxious, emotionally healthier, and more fulfilling lives because of it. I’m not saying getting to this place emotionally and mentally is easy. It isn’t. It’s incredibly hard and will be a daily challenge because you are fighting back against a barrage of imagery and pressure from our media and culture at large. But, if you choose to put the effort in, to read books like The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf, and decide to reject all this crap, you will almost certainly live a much more joyful, satisfied, emotionally healthy life.