So, for the last few months, I’ve been on a quest to acquire a six-pack. Not a 6-pack of beer – abs. I’ve sort of been obsessed with having chiseled abs ever since I was young. I’ve always worked out, but no matter what I’ve done – running, crossfit, barre, cycling, pilates, yoga - abs have eluded me. And honestly? It’s been making me a bit neurotic and obsessive and self-conscious lately. I know this sounds trivial – but stay with me. Obviously there are a lot bigger issues in the world then attaining a flat stomach. But I think my obsession with having what I consider “the ideal stomach” is a preoccupation a lot of women share. And if not in regards to their stomach, then in regards to their boobs, or their hips, or their waist, etc. etc. etc. There’s always someone, somewhere on some social media platform or magazine cover showing us how we – as women – should look.
Everyday I get on Instagram, and am bombarded with pictures of women with what society considers “perfect” bodies. And most of the time I find myself feeling some sort of terrible as I scroll through an endless feed of perfectly proportioned bodies, cute outfits, and gorgeous, flowy hair. Let me take a quick second here to say this is NOT about shaming gals with these flawlessly presented social media feeds. Hell, I spend a lot of time trying to make my Instagram selfies look a certain way. But I never consider that other people might also be cultivating their appearance and their life with the intention of fitting standards of beauty shown to them. Because let’s face it, we’re all freakin’ beautiful, but we all have a hard time accepting that (because the world insists that we’re only attractive if we look a very specific way). We can look at another girl and say “oh, she’s really pretty,” but we’re far less likely to apply those same words to ourselves.
Just the other day, I was contemplating my fervent desire to acquire a 6-pack.
Why do I want this so badly? I asked myself. To look good, was my mind’s immediate response. But then I thought a little harder. But wait, why do I think that’s the only way to look attractive? Who decided a 6-pack was the epitome of sexiness? Who decided that big boobs and a little waist was the ideal? Who decided that long, blonde hair made the perfect woman? Men. Society. Magazines. Other women. Me. Everyone. No one.
What if I’m perfect just the way I am? What if we all are? What if we just decided, each one of us, that we look good because – fuck – we ALL LOOK GOOD! Why do we try so hard to fit ourselves into narrow little corridors of beauty? Beauty is so much more then anyone else’s restrictive and jaded ideals and standards. You’re beautiful because you’re one of a kind.
I’m beautiful no matter what my stomach looks like, no matter how big my boobs are, no matter whether I have the most “on-trend” clothes. I’m beautiful because I’m fucking Augusta Gail and the way I look has nothing to do with that.
I think I just had an epiphany.
Of course these thoughts aren’t brand new – but the intensity I feel behind them is. I actually had this whole inner dialogue while I was running at the beach in Santa Monica, and it was almost an out of body experience. Drenched in sweat, hair tied up in weird little messy buns, I realized with an invigorating shock that I WAS BEAUTIFUL. I realized that, with or without a 6-pack, I was ME, and that being me – just like you being you – is the most beautiful thing of all. Magazines can try and tell me my figure is best suited for this or that outfit. Men can try and tell me my body looks better one way instead of another. Instagram photos can insist that a flat stomach is the key to happiness. But, really, the key to happiness is finally realizing that there’s so much more to life and to beauty then the way you look.
Happiness, for me, is running 18 miles at sunrise then coming home to snuggle with my puppy and my fiancé. Happiness is writing poems and blog entries and a novel, and drawing from my own memories and experiences to create something. Happiness is hanging out with my amazing girlfriends and drinking too much coffee. Happiness is dying my hair crazy colors because it’s fun. Happiness is wearing whatever the heck I feel like because it’s my decision. Happiness is being able to wake up every morning in the incredible city of Los Angeles, surrounded by creativity and energy. Happiness is taking care of your body and cherishing it in whatever ways make you feel good.
There’s no one way to be beautiful, except by being yourself. If you have chiseled abs – you’re beautiful. If you have short aquamarine hair – you’re beautiful. If you have light skin or dark skin or any color skin – you’re beautiful. If you have a big booty or no curves at all – you’re beautiful.
Let me make it simple: if you’re a human being – YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL. Accept that, realize that, breath that in. Do your best to cut loose all the expectations and stereotypes and standards society has set for you. Release your own hurtful, narrow ideas of beauty and let them soar into oblivion. Let go of that negativity – that heavy and unnecessary burden – and I promise that you will start to feel an incredible, wonderful change in the way you see yourself and the way you move through this world.