Sigh. It’s beach season, which means it’s right about time to be inundated with ads trying to subtly encourage us to starve ourselves, remove hair from every nook and cranny, and try to conform to very rigid standards of acceptable beauty. Sure, modern advertisements aren’t as overt with the messaging as they were in the past, and they’ve even adopted a code of body positivity, but the messaging remains the same: you’re not yet good enough as you are.
The parameters for beauty are arbitrary at best, dumb as hell at worst, and dangerous as all get out. When I was a young girl, I used to spend the morning and evening staring at my face and body, wishing I could change just about everything. I did crunches until my ribs hurt, pinched my nose to see how it would look straight and slim, and prayed I would grow to look like Aaliyah (which obviously never happened). I used to overhear my mother lamenting her looks, spent playtime with friends dissecting our features, and was very often told I looked like a boy – the worst thing a girl could hear in those days. All of these moments hinge on the unhealthy obsession with beauty we’re preached about from cradle to grave. Without beauty – the right kind of beauty – a woman has nothing.
Or so we were told.
What if we started seeing ourselves as works of art? And who would stop us if we adorned and honored ourselves for every crooked bend, lump, freckle, inconsistency and bit of cosmic weird? I’ve felt left down by the overwhelming symmetry and whiteness of the body positivity movement, where it seems the closer you are to the standard, the higher the likelihood of your acceptance. Being prettily different is the name of that game, and it just doesn’t work for me. I would rather hold onto the ways we make ourselves feel beautiful and how we present our unique magic to the world – perceived “ugliness” included.
This May I’m investigating what it means to be delicate and how it feels to be truly loved by the most important person in the room: myself. Through storm and cellulite, over mountains and across rivers of stretch marks, I am discovering the mysticism contained in my defiant reflection.
Beach season be damned.