So far, I’ve talked about getting rid of shame and dumping the body shame. I also want to talk about something that’s been bugging me for months: how we talk about beauty. Because this is how I make my living to a very large degree, this might be the equivalent of me lighting a match and throwing it behind me, but here we go…
We must start talking about this differently. And by this, I mean all things beauty. Fashion, too. But really, let’s start with beauty.
I live in the same perpetual firehose blast of messaging you do. Regardless of how it’s received — magazines, videos, social media, TV, YouTube, blogs, ads, books, etc. — all of it is beauty businesses trying to sell us things. I am no exception to this on either side of the coin: I’m a business owner who makes a living via paid partnerships with some of these brands, and I’m a consumer who purchases these products on my own. I walk into the same aisles at drugstores and into giant beauty stores the same way you do, with a head filled with images of perfection, and a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face, wondering where do I even start…
The imagery we see all the time shows us women who are wealthy, generally the same body type and skin tone, and airbrushed within an inch of their lives. They exude youth, confidence, and sex appeal. If we just copy their outfits, if we just follow what they use to the nth degree, we have a shot at their magic. We affiliate to assimilate. We’re currently spinning in a giant vortex of Don’t You Wish You Were Me, and it’s breaking us to pieces, people.
I’m not saying role models aren’t important. I am not saying that you can’t use beauty tools to feel beautiful and proud and like you can take on the world. What I am saying is that the constant saturation of perfection messaging is destroying our physical and mental health.
This Armor of Perceived Perfection is what most of us are trying to sell you, the belief if you’re thin, well-dressed, have perfect hair, skin, teeth, nails, makeup, never age, work out constantly, drink juice, and live in a social-media-ready state of beauty that you will be happy. Most of us buy right into it: we will buy all the products, try all the creams, and copy all the street style to join the Army of the Perfect. Maybe that will make us rich. Maybe then we will be loved. Maybe then we’ll love ourselves, find ourselves acceptable, enjoy our own company, and live the life we’ve always wanted.
And if not, we can just look like we are so no one knows what a mess we really are inside.
Folks, it’s bullshit: The Armor of Perceived Perfection is a total lie.
I hate what it’s done to us. If you’ll notice, women of color other are pretty much excluded from this conversation. Women with deep, rich, dark skin are still — STILL — extricated from the larger view of Perceived Perfection. It’s also rejects the transgender community. Also, let’s not forget that plus-size women are out the outside of this conversation, despite being the predominate population of the United States, and they STILL can’t really find something to wear.
It really, REALLY excludes women over 40. WOW, does it ever. Without injectables, peels, and “anti-aging” products (more on that crap later,) we might as well not exist unless we’re able to freeze time and look eternally 30.
What it does to us is that it turns us into self-hating monsters. We’re so high on the pursuit of this objective and brainwashed by messaging that we pick any outside apart on sight. We outright reject other women who don’t fit. We sneer at each other on the sidewalk. We stare at other women’s body fat. We speak under our breath about another woman’s appearance with our fellow brainwashed friends at lunch. We leave hideous comments on social media. We love to push our internal shame off on other people, you guys. Once the ball starts rolling, we’re glad to pick it up; after all, it takes the focus off our own insecurities for a minute.
People. PEOPLE! ENOUGH ALREADY.
Ok, but so what do we do now?
We’ve got to learn to love ourselves. Right now. Right here. I’m here to tell you that you, in this very minute, you are gorgeous. Without any beauty products or with them, with all the lines, wrinkles, belly fat, batwings, eye bags, crazy morning hair, acne, not-quite-white teeth, dark skin, light skin, tan skin, thin skin, thin hair, thick hair, crazy curls, short, tall, thin body, curvy body, healthy, unhealthy — right now, you are smokin’. You don’t know that? Get into the idea. Try it on for a minute. What if right now, you were enough?
You are. You are enough.
Before I talk about another beauty product, before we get into any of the solutions that are coming next week, I need to say this to you again: you are enough right where you are. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You don’t need to buy another thing to be whole. You are amazing. You are powerful beyond measure. You are sexy. You are desirable. You are blessed. You are breathtaking. You are smart. You are loved.
You are you…and that is enough.
Let me say for the record that I have thought long and hard about how to talk about beauty. I’ve realized that not everything is good for us, ladies. We must change the way we talk to ourselves and to each other and to those beautiful babies about what it means to be beautiful. I’ve realized that it starts with me, and I am willing to take that on.
Starting next week, I’m going to focus on making beauty a tool to help you become more of who you are. I want to teach you how to use these tools to further emphasize yourself, not to look like someone else. We must talk about how to bring your beauty to the surface so you can show it off, which means the most powerful beauty tool you can ever have is totally free: it’s called self-acceptance. If any of the other beauty items I show you can help you get some of that, I’ve done my job. But, really, self-acceptance is an INSIDE JOB. I cannot sell you any cream, potion, lotion, powder, or tool that can make you beautiful from the inside. You have to do that yourself.
I also commit to finding experts who can help you figure that out for yourself. I mean, a little concealer never hurt anyone, but it’s not how you learn to sit with yourself in the quiet and know that you’re a fantastic person who deserves everything you want in life. Let’s find some folks who can help us heal. We need that right now. We need to heal so we can realize our own power. That’s the source of true beauty.
I will do my very best to show you other women who look like you, who have your same concerns, and we will get through this thing together.
That doesn’t mean we won’t talk about beauty. We’re going to talk about what’s bugging you. Acne and dry hair? Those can destroy your self-esteem. I get that, so let’s fix that for you. You bring the concerns, and I’ll bring the experts. But in the end, the goal is not the Armor of Perceived Perfection. It’s all of you walking the streets knowing you are stunning and enough, and that you know how to express that from the inside out. Also, that you will see that individual beauty in another person and compliment that. Let’s get more of that out there. No more body shaming. No more sneering. Let’s help each other out, ladies. We can own the world if we can just get out of our own way.
But it starts now. With me. With you. And knowing that we are the essence of beauty. We are beautiful. We are enough. Together, maybe we can change the way everyone talks to us. But it starts with how we speak to ourselves, and this dialogue around the Armor of Perceived Perfection needs to change. Right now.