When I left secondary school I was really excited. I could suddenly wear my own clothes to school and leave my uniform behind. My uniform wasn’t the worst in the world (although we did have bright blue kilts… What a beauty). However, I was happy that I could finally wear clothes that flattered me.
Going Through School…
In year 11 I went through a stage of drastically losing weight. I was never size zero skinny, but I wasn’t exactly the epitome of health. It wasn’t because I exercised loads or was incredibly fit. I simply stopped eating as well as I should have because I became so wrapped up how I looked. It is very easy to compare people’s sizes when you are all wearing the same thing. As I began sixth form this became less of a problem. However, as I started to feel a lot more comfortable I realised that the allowance of makeup meant that the majority of girls looked beautifully air brushed all the time.
I’ve always been blessed with relatively good skin. It could be genetics, or it could be due to the fact that I don’t particularly like sweets and I drink a lot of water. So, with the right exfoliator, cleanser and moisturiser, my face remained relatively clear. Lip gloss and eyeliner were the extent of my morning makeup routine. However, the more I looked at girls at school the more I realised how amazingly pretty they all looked with makeup. Clear skin was no longer enough. I needed to have bagless eyes, a perflectly smooth complexion, even tone throughout my skin, natural but slightly coloured eyelids, matte but evenly coloured lips… the list went on and on.
I slowly invested in more and more makeup (I mean… I still rarely wear it, but at least I own it), and I became more obsessed with the flaws on my face, some of which I couldn’t help. My nose felt flatter, my cheeks too red, my forehead too big, my face shape too fat and I had no cheek bones. Why didn’t I have any cheekbones?!
Even More Comparison
Recently on two separate occasions I’ve had to wear the same dress as many other girls. In both cases I couldn’t help but being consumed in how much more I resembled a potato in comparison to everyone else. It was like all my uniform fears came back and I noticed everything about me that I hated. It’s affected me a lot recently but it’s caused me to really think about how we as a society define “beauty”.
What is Beauty?
Recently I’ve been binge watching a lot of TV series’ (revision procrastination at its finest). At the moment I’m watching the OC, 90210 and Gossip Girl. Each time I look at the girls and these shows and aspire to have their thin bodies. They all look perfect in everything they wear (which I understand they have costume designers for… but their bodies probably help). I can’t help but be bummed out by it all a little.
However, then when I occasionally watch old kids shows like That’s So Raven and Lizzie McGuire, I see quite the opposite. It’s refreshing to look at how the girls aren’t necessarily “plus size” but are average and slightly curvy. They’re not addressed as “big girls” or “curvy girls” but viewed normally.
Through watching TV shows from different years you can examine how body image has changed over time. We went from a stage where the weight of actors wasn’t necessarily important, to a phase of stick thinness being the norm. Now, we seem to celebrate “plus sized girls” and then the slim toned beautiful girls. It’s interesting how, in each of these time periods, these girls were the trendsetters, and the beauty that teens in particular aspired to.
So, What Now?
We’re currently more tolerant and accepting towards everything and preached at by friends, teachers, adverts and parents. We hear that “everyone is beautiful and beauty is subjective”. However, there are still people that the majority tend to agree are just a lot prettier than others. What is it that allows us to view them as that much more beautiful?
As someone’s that frequently struggles with liking their appearance I personally try to never negatively judge anyone’s appearance. In general, this seems to happen a lot less nowadays. However, when celebrating the beauty of others I find myself wishing I could be that pretty. This can often be self-deprecating.
I didn’t want this post to be an “everyone is beautiful, you should love yourself” kind of post. As someone who has little to no self-confidence I find that this is easier said than done. I just think that we need to stop comparing ourselves to others. You may find many of their qualities redeeming, but hey, you probably have many redeeming qualities as well.
One of my favourite quotes comes from ‘The Red Band Society’, a TV show that got cancelled way before it’s time:
“Luck isn’t getting what you want. It’s about surviving what you don’t want”
In this day and age, most people have something that they dislike about themselves. However, try as you may, you may not be able to change it. Embrace your “flaws”, work with them and make them your special features. It’s not about being the best looking, it’s about having the confidence in yourself to know you look good. Usually if you can believe it, others start to believe it too.
Hope you guys enjoyed this! I actually wrote this 2 years ago on my old blog Still Forming Opinions. I recently came across my old blog posts and felt that this was as relevant as ever. How are you feeling about your self-worth at the moment? Let me know!
Lots of love,