Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Comparing Yourself to Others


           

          I hate this society for teaching me that there is a “type” or a “standard” I have to fit into. That there is a look that I can attain to be craved like meat. That there is a bra cup that will make me desirable to men. That there is a waist size that will make me worth something in this life. That if I don’t look as good as the girl next to me,  I will always be second best. That a number, or a skin tone, or a picture, can define me.
I’ve grown up staring at pictures of photoshopped models for as long as I can remember and then comparing that to myself. And I’ve been let down since age 5 when I realized our bodies were not the exact same. And I tried to fix it -tried to fix myself- to meet these standards. I’ve starved myself, I’ve gotten hair cuts, bought clothes, lost weight, put on make up, and photoshopped my pictures in hopes that maybe I’ll become more “beautiful”. Society has taught me that there is a certain way I must look and a certain way I must act at all times if I want a significant other, or even to have worth in this life. And I hate myself for falling into it’s trap. Because every post I see of a girl in a bikini makes me upset because I don’t have her thighs, or her waist, or her smile. And I wish I could realize that, I’m right, I don’t have all or any of those things. But I have a personality and certain traits about me that should be worth more than any number. Beauty is not the most important thing in life and I wish I could ingrain this into every young girls head, including my own. Because the last thing I want is for a boy to only be able to tell me how beautiful I am. I want to mean something. I’ve been stared down by old men and I’ve been cat called by 8 year olds. I’ve been undressed by more men’s eyes than I can count. I’ve had men with their families look at me with lust. I’ve had men try and pick me up and I’ve been followed. And that’s what the magazine covers don’t tell you. Sure, beauty is important. But I don’t need to show off my body to get a man. I want people to like me for who I am, and what I want to be, and what I will become, and what I am not. I don’t want anyone who only looks for a pretty face or an instagram with someones body half naked.
HOWEVER, I still workout, and put on make up to look good, and take pictures of myself. But the difference is that I’m doing all of these things FOR myself. I put effort into my look because I want to, not in hopes of gaining a boyfriend. Considering I am a radical feminist, I strongly believe that one of the most important girls a thing can do is love herself. Every last bit of herself. Its like that cheesy saying “only you can be you” but its true. Young girls are taught that they should aspire to be pretty; they’re taught that being attractive is the most important thing a girl can do in her life. I recently read a poem that stated:
“when your little girl
asks you if she’s pretty
your heart will drop like a wineglass
on the hardwood floor
part of you will want to say
of course you are, don’t ever question it
and the other part
the part that is clawing at
you
will want to grab her by her shoulders
look straight into the wells of
her eyes until they echo back to you
and say
you do not have to be if you don’t want to
it is not your job
both with feel right
one will feel better
she will only understand the first
when she wants to cut her hair off
or wear her brother’s clothes
you will feel the words in your
mouth like marbles
you do not have to be pretty if you don’t want to
it is not your job”

I love this poem because it gets to the bottom line that girls, just like men, should aspire to bigger and better things that physical attractiveness. That being said, we should also stop shaming girls for having confidence. If that maroon lipstick makes you feel good about yourself, cake it on your lips. If that vest people think is weird accentuates your features and makes you feel better, get it. We have to learn to love ourselves and embrace ourselves- for every quality and quirk. Do what makes you happy and wear what you want to feel good in. Don’t wear anything for someone else.  I’m not going to marry somebody because they’re pretty, I’m going to marry someone because I am in love with them- not their appearance.
I realize this is something easier said then done, considering even now I struggle with it. Making the transition into college is tough. I’m in a new environment, meeting new people every day, trying to be the best. And sadly, with trying to be my best comes my focus on physical appearance. All of my friends know I struggle with insecurity and that it’s only risen since I got to college. A quote that I love goes like this:
“You are enough. Paint it on your mirrors, on the back of your eyelids, drown it in your stomach, sing it in every word you say. You are never too much. Eat your food, sleep eight hours, walk like you love yourself. You are enough. Say it in your sleep, mantras to carry you through your day. There is never enough of you. You are a thirst that is never quenched. I crave you when you’re away. I love every piece of you. But I cannot make you love yourself.” Michelle K., You Are Enough. (via milagetinmykunis)
Girls, boys, men, mothers, brothers, aunts, women, all people of this world, YOU ARE ENOUGH. Now start treating yourself that way.
Nowadays, young people’s main aspirations including being socially accepted among the "popular" crowd and fitting in. Nobody is better than anyone else, no matter the money you have, or how many likes you get on instagram, or what you believe, or your appearance. I see far too many young people trying to fit in and doing whatever it is the populars are doing, and compromising themselves. Popularity will always exist but you have to grow a strong backbone for yourself. You will find people who accept you for who you are without having to compromise your morals or wear a certain outfit. Why do people do this? Why do individuals find the need to compare themselves to people in their own school they look up to as celebrities? I can tell you from experience that popular isn't fun. And if you're constantly trying to fit in with them and be "cool", you'll always be disappointed. Being "popular" or "cool" or pretty or good looking are not the virtues we should be chasing after. There are so many important things in this life besides your social status according to what you look like.
           I've struggled with confidence nearly my whole life. I'm not a stick skinny girl, I don't have wavy blonde hair, I have never been tan in my life, and I most definitely don't have a perfect exterior. I could rant on things that I'm terrible at besides my stunning appearance. But I urge people to focus on the important things. I once heard the quote, "You are not a body with a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." and that is exactly what I am getting at in this little sermon. Your body is literally the exterior holding your bones and flesh together. Is it needed? Yes. Is it what most people define you as? Yes, most definitely. Is it an accurate representation of who you are? No. Absolutely not. Your body, although essential to your living, does not define you as a person. In the end, when I'm an 80 year old woman, I'm not going to be telling my grandkids about how perfect my classmates' eyelashes were. I'm not going to be writing about how toned a girls stomach was. You never hear about a person's hair from across the world. You hear about life changing people that were courageous, fearless, loving. That's because what we ultimately want, what we crave, is a soulmate. We search our whole lives for character qualities- patience, humor, curiosity, a big heart, leadership, compassion, etc. It's called a soulmate for a reason. A soulmate (or soul mate) is a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity,[1]similarity, love, sex, intimacy, spirituality, or compatibility. You're not going to know if someone is your soulmate by looking at them. You know someone is your soulmate, or your idea of "perfect" (that is, what you perceive as perfect) when you discover who they are. You fall in love with the way they're passionate about dumb things, how they're never late, how they listen to you. And this is something society couldn't have more wrong if they tried.
           For the girls: There are plenty of things that affect our day to day actions. And for me, being a girl, there are plenty of things that make me feel less beautiful. And it has to stop. Girls from birth are exposed to photoshopped models, television, and magazines. All of these things construe our idea of beauty and make us feel as if we're not somebody's idea of "perfect". But think about it this way. If you were the only person on earth, would you think you're pretty? Beautiful? Ugly? Fat? Skinny? Chances are, you'd be happy with the way you look because you don't have anything "better" to compare yourself to. Girls know what I'm talking about. Sometimes we wake up and surprisingly our hair is falling in all the right places. Then we do our make up and it turns out flawless. Our outfit is lovely from head to toe and we stare at ourselves in the mirror and feel pretty. Then you walk outside of your room and are immediately bombarded with girls. And the girls are prettier than you. And suddenly, every ounce of confidence you have is evaporated. And I want that to stop. This is easier to stop if you have a good friend or significant other that reminds you of your beauty. But it's tricky if you don't have that. And I've had both. But what I've realized is that either way, it's possible to feel pretty. But you have to understand some things first. 
There will always be someone prettier than you, or so you think. You will never go a day with thinking you're the prettiest girl that you've seen. And if you have, you can stop reading and be happy with the security in your own skin. But here's the thing. You see that girl over there that you think is perfect? She's looking at the girl in the corner thinking that she's perfect. And the girl in the corner is looking at the girl sitting down wishing she was as pretty as her. And the girl sitting down is looking at you, feeling ugly compared to you. No matter where you go, you'll always find someone who is prettier than you. But also, everywhere you go, you will be that girl that is the pretty one to someone else. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You are not lovable for your appearance, people will love you for who you are. 
          For the boys: This will be a tad trickier since I myself am not a boy, so I can't exactly give you advice on how to love your appearance for what it is. But I can criticize you for what you're doing wrong, can't I? (Ha!) Boys have it tougher than we think. Girls spend the day comparing themselves to others, but boys have to look at all of it and try to figure out and decide what is beautiful. They can't even walk into the mall without having a blown up picture of a Victoria's Secret model being pushed onto them. And like I've previously stated, girls love to dress up and look good. Push up bra, tight pants, low cut shirt-  and we’re ready to go. But boys need to learn to realize that a girl might be beautiful on the outside but that that doesnt necessarily match the inside. Boys nowadays are trained to block out a girl's face and decide if they're "hot" or "sexy". Heck, you can crop out a girl's face and send a picture of a girl's body to almost any boy and they wouldn't notice. And that's where they need to change. A girl is not her bra size. A girl is not her eye color. A girl is not her legs. A girl is a human being. You should love a girl for who she is, not what she looks like. I do believe that men and boys should be held accountable of their actions. Viewing of pornography, magazines, social media, naked pictures, and even more issues are are real problems that men engage in. All of these things are setting extremely high and unrealistic standards for women that we cannot possibly attain. (All of this is for a different post that I will be making soon) But girls, when it comes down to it, know that guys don't want porn stars for their wife. When you find a real man wanting  a real relationship, he want a bond with the woman. Not just her appearance. Which brings me to a full 360 to my main point. 
My point in all of this is that our idea of good looking is wrong. It's fundamentally wrong, it's morally wrong, it's wrong. It is just wrong. You are beautiful for character. And there are different types of beautiful because different people want different things. Don't get me wrong, I love a good hair day. And I put effort in the way that I look! But the way I look doesn't define me, as society is telling us. When you love a person, you love them for who they are. Not for their legs. You love them for their willingness to make you happy, not for their muscles. You love them for their endurance, not for their eyes. And if you think that nobody will love you, they will. You are young. It might not happen in the next month. It might not happen in the next 10 years. You might never know who loved you because they could decide to keep it a secret. It might be from a friend. Or a stranger. But I can assure you, boy or girl, you will be loved. And you will be loved for the right reasons. You will be loved for who you are, not who you aren't. 
           To conclude, beauty is something everyone craves. But not everyone knows what they need. And you'll get it wrong sometimes. And you'll see a beautiful boy and think he's your soulmate. But he isn't. Then you'll look right past a boy that ends up being your husband in 5 years. Just remember to love yourself for who you are, and never change for anybody's idea or perfect because chances are you'll never fit it if you're constantly changing.