Generally I try to write about my triumphs in feminism on this blog. But I have to be honest, I still struggle with many of the things I encourage and endorse. Like self-love and self-confidence and body positivity.
Case in point, the other night when I was watching the MTV VMA's. Side note: this award show is just ridiculous and disappointing in so many ways. But anyhow, I was sitting there eating chicken noodle soup (I've been sick all week) and watching one gorgeous woman after another take the stage.
Nose running, no makeup, wearing boy shorts and a baggy tee-shirt, I started comparing myself to every woman on my television screen.
Oh my god she's so pretty I mumbled to myself when Iggy Azaela strutted down the red carpet.
Holy moly J-Lo is flawless - that body!
Aaaah Gwen Stefani is gorgeous.
I snuggled deeper into the couch blankets and tried not to think about how pale and sickly I looked.
Then Beyonce walked out.
And my self-esteem went to shit.
"Oh my God," I blurted out, "She is perfect. She is so sexy. I will never, ever be as sexy as that."
My boyfriend looked at me and said, "You're way sexier than her."
"You have to say that," I grumbled, "But seriously, I look like an awkward 14 year old boy compared to Beyonce. Look at her BUTT. Look at her FACE. I will always be the scrawny quirky cute girl compared to Beyonce. Do you see the way she's dancing? I could never dance on a chair like that. I'd look like an idiot."
My boyfriend, bless his sweet and loving heart, continued to try and convince me that I was sexier than Beyonce.
I wasn't having it. And I went to bed in a haze of self-loathing.
The next night the Emmy's were on, and yet again, I was subjected (and by subjected I mean I chose to watch) to woman after stunning woman walking on stage. Instead of being happy for each woman that won, I grumpily assessed how perfect their figures and faces were.
The past couple of days I've found myself in a funk. Besides being sick, I've just felt less confident than usual. I pride myself on being above buying into society's idea of beauty and sexiness. But sometimes it gets the best of me; sometimes I find myself falling prey to the images in magazines, on my television, and on the internet. I'm not proud of it. But I want to be honest on this blog, and I want to be open about when I feel vulnerable, sad, and beat up by our culture's notion of worth.
Yesterday morning I went to Whole Foods to get some fresh pressed juice (so LA right?). A woman was looking at the salad bar. I watched as every man (and woman) she passed turned to stare at her. She was wearing tight white pants, a white tee, and high heels. Her long, golden blonde hair was perfectly straight, her makeup was flawless, and her body was proportioned like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Meanwhile, I was walking around in an oversized sweatshirt and track shorts, my pixie hair cut askew, my face totally makeup free, and my body as curve less as ever. I found myself feeling angry at this woman, and saddened for myself. I had a momentary flashback to the VMA's - why couldn't I be one of these super sexy, beautiful proportioned, movie star look-a-like women?
And then I stopped - right in the middle of Whole Food - and started to cry. What the hell are you thinking? I asked myself (silently, not out loud). Why are you doing this to yourself?
Seriously, what was I doing? I'd come far too far in my journey as a feminist to get caught up in trivial, stereotypical thoughts about beauty. I deserved better. The women I was judging deserved better. I looked back at the beautiful blonde pursuing the kale. Yes, she was really pretty. But she was probably also really smart, or funny, or artistic or all three. And yes, I didn't look like her. But that didn't mean I wasn't pretty too. And more importantly, it didn't have anything to do with whether I was smart, funny, or artistic, etc.
I spent some time earlier today looking at myself in the mirror. At first all I could see was my runny nose and the couple of pimples on my forehead. For a second I had flashbacks to Beyonce's booty and flowing hair, and I thought I might cry again.
Then I took a deep breath and looked again.
Yeah, my nose was still red from blowing it every two seconds and my skin was breaking out in a couple of places.
And yeah, I was never going to look like Beyonce, or J-Lo, or the lady in Whole Foods.
But you know what, that's absolutely, 100% okay.
Sometimes I forget that I'm beautiful (inside and out). I think we all sometimes forget that we're beautiful. There have been phases of my life in which I never felt attractive (specifically physically). And I'm really thankful to - for the most part - love and cherish my body now. Sometimes I falter, sometimes I regress. But I owe it to myself - and to women everywhere - to get back up and move forward. I owe it to myself not to place so much emphasis on my appearance, but I also owe it to myself to love and enjoy the way I look.
So, just to remind myself, here are the things I love about my looks (I encourage you to do the same - look in the mirror and list off everything you find beautiful about yourself, physically, mentally, emotionally, everything!).
I have bright blue, iridescent hair. It's a pixie cut and it makes me feel like a mischievous mermaid nymph. It may not be "traditionally" sexy like my long, blonde extensions, but it feels totally me and that's sexier than anything.
I have long, muscular legs that allow me to run long distances.
I have big blue eyes that are emotive and soulful.
I have an unusual nose. One that I thought - for a long time - disrupted the symmetry of my face. But I've come to love it - it's unique.
I have little boobs (anyone who reads my blog already knows this haha) and I adore them. They're perky and playful and never need a bra.
I love other things too, but you get the idea.
From time to time I second guess myself or have moments of low confidence. It happens. My goal is to have less and less of these moments, but also not to beat myself up when they do occur. I do my best to embrace self-love and it's an ongoing journey - one that I'm excited to continue on.
So I urge everyone - men and women alike - to stop comparing themselves to celebrities or random ladies in health food stores. Stop telling yourself you'll "never be as pretty as so and so," because who the hell cares? You're beautiful. So and so is beautiful. Beyonce is beautiful (and amazing - I rewatched her performance and this time was reduced to tears by how feminist and empowering she is). We're all different and that's what's truly beautiful. Love yourself - and on the days loving yourself feels difficult, don't give up. Find at least one thing you like about yourself and do something that makes you feel good. Go for a run, go to the spa, read a book. Turn off the TV, throw away your People magazine, and ignore whatever society tells you about being pretty, sexy, etc.
Just do you . And believe me, you're stunning, runny nose and all.