There is a whole lot of writing on this page… but no more than usual, just less photos so bare with me!
The ideas behind this post float around in my head every single day… and I imagine I’m most definitely not the only person who feels this. I will also not claim that the points I make are original; but I will justify my post in expressing how crucial it is for such points to be reiterated.
The fundamental message here is that we are not perfect, and whilst we continuously strive for some typical idea of perfection, it is a moving, ambiguous and abstract target. There is no way I expect this post to have some miraculous effect in making us all stop pushing our bodies to be more like others. The presence of dangerous ‘perfection’ media is far too great for me to defeat entirely. But I do hope that it helps to bring the futility of our self-criticism and body contouring to light. That we can all realise that self-perceived imperfection is introverted, probably even fabricated. This is a knowledge that I thankfully possess somewhere deep inside… but a shallower me strives to look like the numerous near-naked, impossible beauties that Instagram overflows with. On occasion I agonise to the point of tears over the fact that I cannot look like these people; and this can push a person to dangerous places. Its at this point that the battle with the rational self kicks in, and I want you all to posses the means to defend yourself in this battle, and to win it. To regain a contentment with how your body actually is, until the next self-confidence blow.
This isn’t an easy post for me to publish; its an exposing one… but in this field I feel that exposing myself to you all may be the most effective way to have an impact. I need your engagement with this; I am going to pose questions, and for this to work you need to think about your personal answers. So hey, deep breath, here we go…
The only change I had made to this photo is a whitening of the background (and I’ve done this really badly as you can see from the weird highlights going on at the edges of my legs); I haven’t edited my body at all. When I look at it, a multitude of imperfections jump out… so let me ask you:
How could this body be altered for the better? Are the legs too short, too long, too wide, abnormally shaped? Are there blemishes on the skin? In fact is the skin too pale? Can you see bruises or veins or cellulite? Does this figure lack muscular definition? Is it slightly chubby? Or maybe it’s too thin? Is her top half out of proportion with her bottom half? Are her boobs big enough? Does her physique look sporty enough? How far is she from the figure of a Victoria Secret model? Or a Gym Shark ambassador? Or Alexis Ren? Does this body repulse you?
So I imagine that lots of you skimmed over that paragraph and felt it was wrong to think about these things, but I encourage you to go back and actually consider your responses to the photo. After all I am definitely not asking you to tell me; you don’t need to tell anybody.
This is what I see. I am actually in quite a positive place surrounding my body right now, but the imperfections still prevail. I am aware that I took this photo just as my period was due and thus feel I look slightly bloated. I have always found my boobs to be waaaay to small in relation to my lower half. I can’t help but see that my body is off-balance, or ‘wonky’ as a result of my scoliosis. Similarly, my waist is far less defined on my left hand side than my right. I notice the veins on my thigh and wrinkles on my feet. My skin lacks the firmness of a fitness model and I am not even close to being long or thin or toned enough to get insta-famous for my body. Having just come back from holiday, I am loving my tan lines… though I know that in relation to many other people my ‘tan’ is their pale.
Did you pick up on all of these? Maybe I’m being overconfident, but I’m going to hazard a guess that you didn’t. (In fact, maybe you even found positive things easier to find than flaws.) But this is my own perception… maybe I exaggerate the flaws I find, maybe I fabricate some. And this is something we all do. When we look in a mirror or take a selfie or accidentally catch our reflection in the tube (this is by far the absolute worst)- our brains are programmed to pick out the tiniest things we wish were different. Its rare that we catch a moment like this and look first for the best parts. There has been plenty said about how it’s the media which has created this mindset, and I would totally agree. If you now try to conjure your vision of the perfect body composition; I guarantee its made up of images of famous people or those we admire. I also guarantee that its constantly changing. And trying to keep up with that is exhausting.
And yet we continue doing so. Technology is making it far easier to change ourselves in photo form; to correct these tiny imperfections we magnify to ourselves. So here’s the same photo edited in relation to my own self-criticism:
Here, I have altered my waist on my left side and I have darkened my tan further. My skin has been made smoother and the the veins on my thigh have been covered over. I have made my boobs bigger so they seem more in proportion to my hips and bum. I have also raised my left shoulder to seem less wonky. And yet I still see imperfections- I cannot change the height difference between my knees, I still have bulges at the tops of my inner thighs, I still lack ab definition. My hair is dull and I still look nothing like any of the people that form my vision of perfect.
So really the time I spent editing it and worrying has been futile. ‘Perfect’ is some abstract thing I cannot achieve. None of us can really achieve; especially when its our own changing idea of ‘perfection’ we’re striving towards.
Obviously I cannot be sure what the impact of this post on you will be. I do not know, and also don’t really want to know what your answers were to the questions I posed. But if you found less flaws or more positives than I could find… then hopefully this process has shown you that what others see when they look at you is far far more neutral, if not more positive than what you see. Our self-criticism is selfish really… self-centred and vain. But we all suffer from it. I just want to reiterate how necessary it is that you remember it’s mainly all in your head… that actually most other people really don’t care about your flaws. If they love you, it’s weakened in no way because you’re not perfect. Its probably strengthened to be honest.
So when that shallow self-confidence blow comes, be ready with this army of knowledge to defend your deeper contentment.
I would be really interested on your thoughts about this post: if it’s had an impact on you, if it was useful? Or let me know your stories surrounding the vision of you vs ‘perfection’. leave me a comment, or drop me an email.
Lots of love x