On my birthday, a funny picture was taken of me. I was holding up my birthday cake, and pretending to take a bite out of the entire cake. It wasn’t a flattering picture at all. And the lighting was terrible. But it wasn’t supposed to be a glamour shot. It was a silly spontaneous picture taken at home with family. My boyfriend posted it on Facebook. The first person who commented said, “I can’t believe you let him post that!” Why? Because I didn’t have any makeup on? Because my hair wasn’t perfect? Because it looks like I have huge bags under my eyes? So what?! In an airbrushed world, I wanted to be real.
The reaction to my unflattering picture left me a bit unnerved. Like we aren’t already under enough pressure by the media who tells us what perfect is, how to achieve it and what a failure you are if you don’t look a certain way, now we’re doing it to each other. To friends? Am I really supposed to believe that the picture you posted of your two year old exquisitely dressed, quietly playing with her doll in a posh, spotless living room is really what your everyday life looks like? If it is, good for you. But a more accurate picture might be that same two year old with food stuck in her hair, stains on her little t-shirt, holding her doll by the hair as she tumbles through a living room littered with toys, tissues and plastic cups. We would never post THAT picture though because heaven forbid our friends think our lives are ordinary.
As Spring approaches, we are bombarded with magazines, emails, web articles and TV ads telling us what we MUST do to be ‘bikini ready’. Unless you’re a supermodel, how many of your friends look amazing in a bikini? I went to California for a week in February and actually considered NOT bringing a bathing suit because I was winter pale and didn’t consider my body tone enough to even be seen in shorts. It was 85 degrees out there! We fought a hard winter here in the Northeast. I couldn’t wait to see the sunshine and palm trees. Luckily I grabbed my suit at the last minute. Reluctantly I wore it to the hotel pool. And guess what? There wasn’t a perfect person in sight. Everyone has “flaws”! Did I sit on the lounge chair and mentally bash myself for not looking the way I wanted to? Of course I did. And what a waste of time when I could have been doing something healthier like meditating under the palm fronds.
I’m so sick of skinny girls picking on fat girls, and fat girls picking on skinny girls. There is no perfect size! Just drop that stupid argument already, please?! If you don’t like how you look, change it. But make sure you’re changing what YOU don’t like, not other’s perceptions of what is good or bad. Be healthy. Be silly. Look beautiful. Look awful. Stop worrying about the outward appearance and instead spend your time living in the moment and enjoying the experience. Share those memories no matter how imperfect they may be. Because right now is all we have. And how sad it would be to waste that time worrying about how it looks.