I’m in my 30’s now, & pretty comfortable in my own skin. That wasn’t always the case. I remember being a teenager having to play tennis in a little tennis skirt & feeling like the whole world was judging me. I could barely move, let alone enthusiastically bounce from foot to foot as I awaited a serve.
Now if I still had that body I’d wander down the street in my knickers so it didn’t go to waste! I think it’s just that us women are predisposed to thinking we’re not quite up to scratch, especially when it comes to physical appearance, no matter what we’ve got.I’ve given that all a lot of thought since opening my pop-up shop in Melbourne during September. I have a pretty confident circle of close girlfriends. I believe they genuinely value what they have to offer the world via their mind & heart, & as a consequence get about town with their heads held high. Nothing more gorgeous than that. I was lulled into a false theory that women shook off the self-doubts when they reached some age, kinda 30+, & it was onward & upward from there. No, not according to the string of very beautiful women who came in through the store in September. A whole spectrum of ages of women came through & tried garments on, or held them against their body & listed their flaws as they looked in the mirror. This or that was always too big or too something & a couple were so ridiculous that I spent the rest of the afternoon worrying about the entire female population. One made me laugh. In my defence, it was so absurd I thought she was being sarcastic. Nope.I’ve done a bit of reading on the topic since then, & collected some thoughts…
The saddest story I saw was about a terminal cancer patient, Lisa Connell, who reportedly spent $60,000+ on plastic surgery so she could die looking like Demi Moore, because she thought Moore was beautiful & she was not. She was very beautiful & I felt very very sad that any woman would spend such precious time trying not to look like herself any more so she could die happy. A pretty extreme case, but there is a lot of plastic surgery going on in the world & I can’t see what’s wrong with the originals! Everyone’s got to have the right kind of eyelid & the right sized nose & heaven forbid not have balloon-like breasts & lips. It seems to me like a poor reflection of what we think is important about ourselves.
I read some articles about where we get this obsession with looks & comparing/ranking each other against other women of the world, & there was some theorising that us women are our own worst enemy, & it’s due to the race to nab the best man. We all know heterosexual men are quite driven by looks of women, & the theory being thrown around is that we’re a bunch of catty competitors who pick on each other’s looks so that the men looking on will see the flaws in the other contenders. In the meantime, we’ve become completely obsessed with looks & how we rank against others. I say let the men who are just looking for looks have their pick of the chicks. Stand back. It’s a good way to get rid of the duds. Then the men left standing will be the ones that need a little more of a connection, & can offer a more meaningful relationship, & may actually be able to engage in a conversation at dinner rather than have glazed over eyes that drift through you as a good looking girl heads to the bar, once you’ve been together for more than a few months. I have a brunette friend who has said on more than one occasion that if she was blonde, dating would be a whole different, busier, scene – if that’s true I think she should be thankful she gets to weed out all the shallow guys without even trying!
I think perhaps the poster girl from my reading about women & confidence might be Robyn Lawley, an Australian model, who is doing quite well in the “plus-sized” modeling scene. One question I do have is why on earth is she “plus-sized”.. I did some research while planning the sizing for Little Frock of Sheep, & the average Australian woman is size 16 apparently. Robyn Lawley is over 6 foot & is size 12. If she was any less than size 12 I suggest she might well flop over in a light breeze. Anyhoo, that wasn’t why she was in the news. She was in the news because she made it into some small-minded person’s collection of women who aren’t up to scratch because she doesn’t have enough space between her thighs. It churns my stomach to think of what kind of person decides they can compile & publish this list. Also, I’m not sure why broadcasters insist on finding the most moronic people’s opinions on things & then make a news story out of them for sensible people to have to stumble upon.. So, what does young Robyn do? Gives the most mature & natural response I’ve ever heard: “The truth is I couldn’t care less about needing a supposed ‘thigh gap.’ It’s just another tool of manipulation that other people are trying to use to keep me from loving my body. Why would I want to starve and weaken my natural body size?” “I’m not saying women who have it naturally are unattractive. But I would have to change my entire frame just to achieve something that seems so trivial” “I’ve been trying to do just the opposite. I want my thighs to be bigger and stronger. I want to run faster and swim longer.” “I suppose we all just want different things, but women have enough pressure as it is without the added burden of achieving a ‘thigh gap.'”. Wowzers. I’m impressed. She’s drop-dead gorgeous of course, so it’s probably a little easier to be filled with confidence, but I loved the fact that she’s more interested in being physically fit than conform to some ridiculous set of expectations for women. She wasn’t always confident – she tried to get down several sizes when she was a tenager & just starting out in modeling & it made her miserable – said she has improved her self confidence since then by repeating the mantra “I love my body” until it became true. Could it be that easy?
It may be quite a simple process, according to Margo Maine, who compiled a list of “20 ways to love your body” for nationaleatingdisorders.org that seemed to make sense, & made it sound like it could be as easy as talking ourselves around. To summarise my favourite suggestions.. :
- She recommends thinking of your body as just that: a body, that gets you from A to B, where B can be wherever your heart desires: not an ornament.
- Think about the people in the world who you admire, & in particular, what it is you admire about them. Is appearance in the list?
- Do exercise for fun & not to lose weight. Eat when you are hungry. Rest when you are tired.
- Surround yourself with people that remind you of your inner strength and beauty.
So there endeth my thoughts on the topic for the moment! Obviously an opinion piece only. I’d love to hear your opinions on the topic, & any thoughts you have about keeping women feeling like the amazing creatures that they are, & especially if you have suggestions on how to help young women get through their youth feeling that way – please share.