I’ve seen several articles and facebook posts this week about Real Women and how we should feel beautiful as we are. Particularly this one from the highly popular blog, Single Dad Laughing. The now infamous Marie Claire post on fat people has people talking, too. Yet every time this sort of discussion comes up, I somehow end up feeling inadequate. I think I’ve just realized why.
I am just the sort of Real Woman they are talking about. I carry a few extra pounds, and I don’t turn heads. I’m a single mom, I work hard, and I’m going to school. Tonight’s date: watching Star Trek with my kids. I don’t even have time to bother with makeup sometimes, as some guys have been more than willing to point out. So, since I am more real, than say, those fake women out there, I should feel better about myself, right?
Come on. We’re all real. Even if we’re naturally thin, or buxom, or drop dead gorgeous, or (as I’ve been made to feel sometimes) quasimodo ugly. Even if we wear tons of makeup, or dress for attention. Even if we’re the girl the other girls envy, or even if we’ve gone under the knife for vanity’s sake. And even when we truly are ugly on the inside, as I sadly know I have behaved at one time or another. We are still all very real, with real feelings in there somewhere, even if they aren’t so obvious on the surface.
But these writers seem to unintentionally convey that we’re only real when we feel somewhat less than ideal. That we should feel better than someone else because we feel like we’re less than them. How does this make sense? At the very least, they do get us comparing ourselves to each other. I don’t know about you, but that always makes me feel bad.
What’s more, the message I get is that deep down, as women, we can only truly be happy if we believe we are pretty. That we’re supposed to believe we’re beautiful-on-the-outside, and we’re supposed to treasure that about ourselves. And if we don’t feel that way, it’s a serious malady that needs correction, starting with more eyeliner. No one says it in so many words, but again, to me that’s the message that comes across.
I know I’m not the ugliest person in the world, but I know I’m not the fairest of them all either. Let’s be honest here: I’m typically not even the most beautiful girl in the room unless I’m at a geekfest and AM the only girl in the room. And I am okay with that!
Instead of telling me I’m prettier than I think (I’ll get to that), tell me this: why should it matter so much? Sure, it would be nice to really feel prettier, just like it would be nice to be a better singer, or to drive a better car. I know I could look prettier if I’d put more time into it, so should I feel bad that it simply is not a high priority for me right now? If I somehow became forty-two times more beautiful, would I also be happier and more secure? I don’t think so.
My point is this: these well-intended efforts seem bent around changing social paradigms of what is and is not physically attractive in women, rather than changing where we place the most value in ourselves.
I value myself for who I am and how I make the world a better place, not for how I look. I am smart, talented, and terribly sincere. I can do hard things. I am kind, caring, loving, giving, grateful, and strong. I see the good in others. I am imperfect and improving. I am busy as all get out and more than a little scatterbrained, but I make a difference wherever I go, and I know it! I am happy. And hey, I have effortlessly lovely fingernails. 😉
This week was a bit rough, and all the beauty talk had me thinking for a moment that maybe things would work out better for me personally if I were cuter. So I posted a facebook status saying the beauty talk had me feeling bad. I am very thankful for all of the responses, including the compliments, and I hope this does not come off as rejection of the nice things you’ve said. That is not my intention at all. But this is: I want to shift the focus. So what do you value most about yourself or the women in your life?
Excellent post, woman!! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT!!!
Amen! Preach it, sister!! Well said — I agree with everything you wrote here.
To answer your question, the things I value most about myself are my abilities to adapt, to break down problems into smaller logical parts and find innovative solutions, and to find ways to be a force for good in the world. I like that I have a generally healthy body that I can use for getting around and doing things. I like that I am creative, and I flatter myself by imagining that I can put different ideas together in unique and interesting ways.
If I had to choose a favorite part of my body, it would probably be my hands. They can make things and music, solve problems and equations, comfort children, touch beauty and create it. They symbolize my connection to the world far more than my face or thighs. They are not for being viewed by others…they’re for DOING.
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