During my most recent mammogram I walked into the room, disrobed and this particular technician looked at me and asked If I had implants?! I looked at her thinking maybe she was joking...or crazy (she wasn't) yet I continued to make some sarcastic comment about how if I did have implants you would think I'd have done something a little more spectacular with that area (especially after 4 years of continuous breastfeeding-that part of my body is unrecognizable to me now). It's what I call my "Ugly Flaw"and I have more of them than I can count on my fingers and toes. Granted, I'm hard on myself, but living up to the expectations and competitive nature of the female beasts that surround me in this Universe is a little more than I can stand. It's a little more than any female should have to stand. The things we do for acceptance, for men, for ourselves in the name of beauty is beyond what we should tolerate...and yet we still do. I still do. It starts young, very young, in fact my 3 year old daughter asks me daily if she looks beautiful today and although she is quite stunning, even for a 3 year old, it breaks my heart that her happiness depends on her appearance that day. A few months ago she cried when the mailman failed to tell her how beautiful she looked in her Belle costume and screamed out over and over that he didn't think she was pretty today. I was floored!! Did I teach her this or is this just ingrained in us from birth as women/girls to want to be considered beautiful (or is she just a bit dramatic)?
With friends we talk about our insecurities and what we hate most about ourselves (it's what some girls do) but appearances tend to top the list in this category, sadly enough. I often fail to see what they see, the things that make them beautiful and unique to me are what makes them ugly to themselves. So I've come to this conclusion: We, as a female gender, are completely insane!! We are our worst critic and We.Never.Stop.Obsessing...I know this to be true after numerous recent conversations with girlfriends and female family members (which is the inspiration behind this post). We want a non-existent, "grass is always greener" kind of perfection that we, in our crazy minds, think some other women actually possess.
I frequently hear men talk about how they like a natural woman, so why are we trying so hard? Because what men say they want and what they actually want are entirely different and because the "natural" girl is a rare species. It's capturing bigfoot in a leopard bikini in a photograph kind of rare. The natural girl these men think they are looking for are the ones who would hardly generate a second glance from these same men. Why? Because we dye our hair, we use extensions in our hair and spend insane amounts of money on product to maintain our "natural" flowing, shiny tresses, we manicure and paint our nails, pluck/shave/wax every part of our body on a fairly regular basis (or would he really dig those hairy armpits?), fake-tan or real-tan our natural skin tone to look sun-kissed but not orange, make-up our faces and cover the imperfections with all sorts of potions, cover our bodies with sweet smelling lotions and perfumes, workout like maniacs and starve ourselves to look like the girls in a Victoria's Secret catalog and call this Natural Beauty (and men buy this as natural beauty-suckers!). These are just the basics. Many of my friends have already given themselves over to the plastic surgeons or injections of botox by the time they were in their 20s (and I'm not judging or naming names), but they caved to the pressure, they could no longer tolerate the ugly flaws a.k.a. uniqueness that made them beautiful. I'm not saying I'm above doing it, I just haven't caved yet and I question why we try so hard- is this really for ourselves, for men, for attention, for competition between each other or all of the above? Admittedly, since the 7th grade, I have wanted, ached and (in my mind) needed a nose job. Vanity, Beauty, Supermodels and Fashion consumed my world from that point on and clouded my view of reality. It became an obsession of sorts giving way to my insecurities and feeling like I would never be enough.
I have never in my life looked at a person and thought, 'what a hideously ugly person!', not ever, unless I count the times I have said it to myself in the mirror. And I'm not alone, which is both comforting and terribly sad. Perfection will never be a part of who I am, but I'm trying to embrace that reality and my ugly side as well. The visible scars that will never heal, the nose I inherited from my grandpa and the many, MANY other flaws have a distorted sort of beauty to them I someday hope to appreciate because, in the end, the only person whose opinion truly matters on this topic is the girl in the mirror.
*Favorite clip from Beautiful Girls but here's your R-rated language warning*