With the hustle and bustle of our morning routine, I have become accustomed to putting on my make-up in the car on the drive in to work. Before you completely lose your shit about me driving and putting on make-up, let me clarify: I DON’T. Vern drives, and I put on a little make-up, which takes me all of 5 minutes. As I’ve mentioned before, we carpool, so this is the routine that works for us.
This time when I reached for my little face fixes, I sighed a heavy sigh, flipped open the vanity mirror and said, “I wish I was one of—“ and then I stopped. I had started to say I wish I was one of those girls who can wake up in the morning completely perfect and not bother with this, but I didn’t say it. I stopped myself.
I stopped myself because I had listeners with hungry ears sitting in the back seat, ready to be shaped and influenced by whatever Mom and Dad says and does. I stopped myself because I became acutely aware that I was self-hating. I stopped because it is complete and utter kaka.
It reminded me of the recent Kerry Washington Allure cover. You know the one where she’s beautifully make-up free? Only she’s not make-up free. In this crazy new celebrity trend to have shoots done “without make-up” in order to celebrate the natural beauty of women, we’re forgetting to celebrate the NATURAL beauty of women. Kerry admitted that she was indeed wearing make-up for the shoot. Huge kudos to her for admitting it. Kerry said, “'I'm going to be honest because I think it's unfair when we tell women they should look like something that's not real.'
And that’s it, right there. We’re telling our daughters that they’re not pretty unless they look like this. Not directly, but the message is still there--and it’s a powerful message--every time we criticize ourselves. And we’re giving our sons the wrong standard for what is beautiful. More than that, really, we’re not even giving them a true idea of what a real woman looks like. With all of the air brushing, photoshopping, what they (and we) see on magazines isn’t even real.
Cindy Crawford was once quoted as saying, “Even I don’t wake up looking like Cindy Crawford!” She even recounted a blind date experience where her date didn’t believe she was the real Cindy because she didn’t look quite like she did in the magazines.
I could show you countless photoshop befores & afters to emphasize my point, but I don’t need to do that to deliver my meaning. You get it, I know you get it. That’s why I dig you. (Hug and double back tap).
I think about my teen boys. I think about the idea they must have in their heads of what a woman’s body is supposed to look like (although I try to set that right as often as I can). As they enter the adult world more and more, they’ll compare the real features of bodies and faces they encounter to this ideal that’s been created and they’ll tally those features as imperfections. Chasing down "perfect" has been the sad tale of many, I think. I use the word sad because it IS sad how many opportunities to know great people are lost in this chase, and how much time gets wasted.
I think about my daughter. I think about the picture she must have of what pretty is. Every time I complain about my body or my look, I’m coaching her to buy in to the idea that pretty is perfect, and perfect is what we see on magazine covers (or on TV). Have you seen the Perfect Body campaign? I applaud Dear Kate for their response. We ARE all different. We all CAN love ourselves for those differences…and then others will, too.
Let me ask you:
How do you equate value in yourself?
How do you equate value in OTHERS?
How are you expressing that value to those around you?
Is what you’re projecting actually in line with that value?
It’s worth thinking about a little deeper and rebooting our programming on this one.
I hate that as women we are brainwashed to be critical of ourselves… and of other women. Without even meaning to, we train our daughters to do the same, consequently damaging the way they see & engage with others and form relationships.
I hate that as mothers, without even meaning to, we train our sons to equate beauty with the superficial, and to place a high value on that, consequently damaging the way they see & engage with others and form relationships.
It all starts with how we value ourselves, and then it grows from there.
I will try my best NOT to self-hate. I will try my best to focus on what I love about myself. I will try to make sure to be more aware of the value system I’m projecting.