Who decides if you are beautiful or not?

by Mary
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Who decides if you are beautiful or not? Who forces you not to go to the beach with your friends because you think you look fat in your bikini?

Who forces you to make the decision not to approach to your crush , not to ask for a salary raise, not to take that yoga class you’re interested in because you don’t feel up to it?

Is it really you who wants to consciously hurt yourself every day? To hate yourself a little more until you feel so bad that you want to hide?

Lack of self-confidence is hard to deal with. It permeates all of our activities and social interactions… and we don’t always understand why we feel that way. It affects almost everyone, despite what we think.

Last week, for example, I decided to go shopping (an activity I hate to the point of avoiding it as much as possible) and I found myself ugly as ever. Not ugly, downright ugly. I felt out of place, I felt so different from the other girls and I just wanted to go home. I felt like my body was out of line.

It was even worse as a teenager; I remember crying in dressing rooms more than once.

And I beat myself up for hating myself like that. I would never be that mean to another person… But when it comes to me, I let it happen. A real festival of insults and insecurities.

The causes of our insecurities

No matter how much I progress in this (hey, loving myself is really a daily struggle), I have relapses. I think I’m beautiful in general, but there are situations where I feel really helpless. And I find it so pocket, so useless, so stupid. I don’t understand why I feel this way.

It can’t be instinctive! No one thinks, “Yay I’m going to hate my face today! There’s got to be someone somewhere who decides how you should feel. The media industry? Fashion? The beauty industry?

In fact, it’s a little bit of everything :

If there’s one thing that sells (whether it’s news, clothing, skin products, etc.), it’s insecurity. It’s extremely profitable for companies to make you believe that you depend on them to be rich/powerful/beautiful/sexy.

To create a need in you, they need to play in your head for a long time. And insidiously. To expose you to standardized bodies, unrelieved skin, monotonous and identical styles. Every day, we’re confronted with a uniform aesthetic, propelled in large part by social media.

No room for tattoos, colorful hair, curves, muscular girls, women of color, and exploded styles.

Are you really tripping on the damn yoga pants? The big brown outline Kim Kardashian style? No? Well, chances are you think it’s beautiful in a way. Do you feel free to think?

Of course, self-confidence depends on thousands of factors; your family, your friends, your background, your character… But we all agree that seeing one model of beauty WITHOUT STOP gives you only one desire: to question yourself.

I’ve never seen cellulite on bobblehead models. Yet, most women have it to some degree. I’ve never seen a girl with no makeup on in a commercial. Yet many of us wear little or no makeup. I’ve never seen a girl with unmade legs in a magazine. Yet, you have the right to not shave if you don’t want to (I often go to the gym unshaven; f-that)!

Body positive” campaigns

Fortunately, there are some very “body positive” campaigns that are slowly emerging… But they struggle to find a place in our Facebook feeds filled with unhealthy ads and photos of retouched celebrities.

And too often, when media or companies put forward “non-standard” people or “different” girls, they are almost systematically stigmatized. For example, the company congratulates itself for having kindly accepted to take an plus-size girl and the internet salutes its “courage”.

Oh, my God! She’s just another girl who poses like any other model.

Three campaigns caught my attention in the last few months and gave me (a little) hope.

First, the beautiful photos by Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke for the lingerie brand Lonely. The girls present the product with candor without necessarily taking suggestive poses that don’t look good, without being retouched and staying away from stereotypes (yep, we even see a nipple!).

There’s also the All Woman Project, which feels great! They are two models who fight against the labels that are constantly imposed on women (she’s a “curvy” girl, she’s a “tom boy”, etc.) and that limit their representation in the media, which of course, prevents us from being 100% confident.

Finally, I was relieved and happy to discover this photo on the Nike Women account:

A girl who is curvier than what we are used to seeing on the brand’s “feed”, with no hint of her weight or figure! Just another model presenting a product and reminding us that yes, girls of all shapes work out. To me, that’s a real “body positive” ad.

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a miracle solution to love myself 24/7. But I am reclaiming the right to reclaim what I think about beauty, about my beauty. I refuse to let companies dictate my look by making me feel like I don’t look good the way I am.

So, starting today, I give myself the freedom to think what I want about my body. I give myself the right to love myself. What about you?

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