What is it inside of us that causes us to compare ourselves to everyone else? What part of the brain controls this bizarre impulse to look at others, judge them, and almost in the same instant, judge ourselves in comparison? Could this be some primitive instinct from the days when natural selection played a far greater role than it does today? Thousands of years ago, certain traits were deemed desirable because they showed fitness for an environment and reproduction. This is a nice theory, but I believe it's much more than that. Today we place so much importance on physical appearance; however the standards and ideals of beauty today are different than those fifty years ago. If this compelling force to criticize and compare was primitive, the standards of beauty shouldn't deviate so greatly through different time periods. Clearly, we place impossible standards of beauty upon ourselves. But why?
As someone who has struggled with eating disorders, and has been overly critical of them-self for as long as I can remember, I've always wondered why I do this to myself. Why do I stand in front of the mirror, pinch the skin on my hips, scrutinize every dimple and blemish on my skin, pick, prod, poke, scratch and scrape at the pores on my face. Why do people tell me I'm pretty, and I shrug off the compliment and point out a flaw? Why can I not look at myself, and be proud of my appearance? I try to eat healthy and work out regularly, then when I slip up and indulge on something less than ideal, or skip a few workouts, I instantly belittle myself, feel guilty, feel like I instantly weigh 300 pounds, and think I'm the most disgusting creature on this earth. That is not normal. I know it's not, and yet, I continue to do it. There is a vicious cycle of self-hate going on and I can't seem to pinpoint the beginning or find sight of the end.
Advertisers, modeling agencies, television shows and movies all place a twisted idea of what is beautiful and worthy of admiration in our minds from an early age. Thin, blonde, perfectly white and straight teeth, expensive clothes, and promiscuity seem to be the traits of the 'heroines' portrayed in the media. Men have unfair standards too. They must be buff, with a chiseled jaw line, perfectly coiffed hair, perfect smiles and a 'come fuck me' stare if they want to reach leading man status. Unless of course they're funny, then they can look ugly, but they always end up with the cookie cutter, gorgeous leading lady. However, if a female character is funny, she is cast as the pudgy, ugly, bumbling, or sarcastic side-kick. Why must women be beautiful, but they're not allowed to be funny or smart as well in Hollywood? Who creates these stereotypes and why in the hell are we all sitting back, and not doing anything to change these ridiculous standards?
How can we all sit back, let these images permeate into our psyches, corrupt our opinions of our self worth, and raise generation after generation of people who hate themselves and don't feel beautiful or worthy? It's sick, and I'm personally sick of it. I am tired of starving myself, depriving myself of things I like, looking into every reflective surface I come in contact with so I don't look 'ugly'. It's pointless. I can't be the only person who is sick of this, though. If we want society to change, we have to first make changes within ourselves. That being said, my new goal is to value myself. Every pound, every blemish, every dimple, every crooked tooth. I don't want someone else to tell me what is beautiful or worthy of admiration. I decide what is beautiful from this moment forward. Beauty is not found on the outside, it comes from within. I am a smart girl, who has been doing stupid things to her body for years. I want to be healthy physically and mentally.
If someone doesn't find me beautiful, oh well! That's on them. The only person I need to please is myself. The only person YOU need to please is yourself. No two people see things in exactly the same way, so why should we try to conform to a corrupt standard of a skewed mind? If you love and respect yourself, you're set. Once you do, I'm certain you'll find plenty of people who also love and admire you, for you. When we chose to walk with our heads held high, proud of our imperfections, and standing in glorious opposition to society's standard of what is beautiful, we not only inspire ourselves, we inspire others. Perhaps once more and more people become inspired in this way, there won't be a standard of beauty anymore. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Embrace your beauty's size, and stop worrying about your pant size.
Lindsey. Twenty-Five. Currently pursuing a degree in Professional Writing & Film Studies.