The last year has really toyed with my body image. To really explain this, I have to confess a few things. I used to be part of this big (mostly) local crunchy moms group on Facebook. A small group of moms branched off from this group and started a smaller group. We recognized that some of us were a bit more outspoken, a bit more sexual, a bit more raw, shoot-from-the-hip than the others. We talked about relationships, sex, our pasts… the juicy stuff. We also shared weekly pictures. The pictures may have been of our tattoos, us in high school/college, with our spouses, and some that were pretty revealing (like, boudoir-type photos).
For a woman who has always struggled with her looks, this became a challenge. But it was a two-fold challenge. On one hand, I wanted to be confident and share as everyone else was. On the other, I felt too embarrassed and self-conscious. It was a strong internal battle that I’ve dealt with as far back as I can remember. People who don’t think highly of their looks don’t take “selfies” to share with others. I never even wanted to see revealing photos of myself – why would I? I didn’t particularly like how I looked. So I’d take a photo… and then go “Oh, no! This is awful!” I’d have my husband take a photo, and I’d think the same thing. Then I’d think to myself… “This is insane! Why am I doing this anyway??” and looking back, I know why I did it. I wanted to experience the confidence that I perceived others experienced. And I wanted to believe that I could be beautiful as they believed they were.
After drama and loss of friendships and whatnot, I left this group, but something still remained… an internal struggle with beauty that I’ve always felt.
I posted a link to an article yesterday about how magazine photo editors are actually editing photos to make women look healthier. They are rejecting that 90s Kate Moss waif look and opting for a look where women have a little meat on their bones. I thought — “This is great!” Then I thought about all the women who battled eating disorders and self-esteem issues to try to look like some ideal image of beauty. We’re all trying to be beautiful, right? We’re all looking for confidence in our physical appearance, right? Confidence is feeling good about how we look…RIGHT?! Because I feel like this is what I’ve always been sold.
Well, you know what? 2014 is different! In 2014, I will be confidently unattractive. On your typical, average day, I usually look like a mess. I have crazy hair. It’s frizzy, not straight, not curly. I have a crooked nose, my eyes are too close together, I have poor posture (although this is improving), my arms are lanky, my calves are kinda bow-legged looking, my thighs are covered in cellulite, I’m pale, I have stretch marks from two pregnancies, my boobs are too low, my 3rd toe is too long, I’m covered in freckles, I have jowls already, I’m starting to get crow’s feet and some wrinkles on my forehead from squinting when I should wear sunglasses, I have a c-section scar from my first born, scars on my boobs from multiple surgeries… and you know what?
I’M OKAY WITH ALL OF THAT. I’ve always been awkward and probably will always be awkward. I don’t have to convince myself that I’m beautiful, and I don’t have to feel beautiful every day to be confident. And freeing yourself from the notion that you have to believe you’re beautiful to feel good about yourself… is kind of an amazing thing. Can’t I just be confidently unattractive? And if I want to feel ‘beautiful’, I can throw on a push-up bra and a nice top, some skinny jeans, cute shoes, flat-iron my hair, do my make-up nicely… and I’ll know that I clean up nicely.
Confidence does not come from looking ‘good’. It doesn’t come from thinking you’re physically attractive. It comes from feeling good in your own skin. I could know that I’m kinda just an average looking girl (if you can say that of a redhead), and still feel great about being me.
This reminds me of my favorite opening line from a song
“There is freedom within; there is freedom without”.
Doubt this is what Crowded House was referring to, but it’s the connection I’m making today.
Recent car selfie, with some make-up and straightened hair.