What’s your personal definition of beauty? I hope everyone just answered, “me!” In my book, beauty is all about believing in yourself, acceptance and being unafraid of who you are physically and mentally.
Since I can remember, the fashion catwalk (along with magazines and numerous advertisements) has been littered with super-skinny models that we look up to as our definition of sexy. And they are sexy. However, there’s a whole other world of people living in different body types that are equally as sexy and worthy of walking our runways.
The ‘Skinny’ On My Own Body
I was actually closest to the super-skinny model body when I was about eleven years old. No hips, knobby knees and long legs that carried me into my awkward adolescent years. Sometimes I look back at photos of myself (pictured in an itchy dance costume or something of the sort) and find myself wishing I could go back to that body because then I’d look more like the models I see in magazines. By the time I turned twelve, my super-skinny body type was already gone. I was filling out and turning into a woman with curvy hips, a tummy pouch and real thighs.
None of this really bothered me so much, but as I got older, I started to compare myself to other girls around me. They had bigger boobs or broader shoulders or a longer torso. And why were they getting more attention than me? Was I just not sexy or skinny enough? If I had a bigger thigh gap or skinnier ankles, would guys like me more? These were the questions swirling in my head, causing me to doubt my own sense of beauty and that maybe I just wasn’t sexy enough.
Inevitably, it made me feel like I was always competing against other girls. I don’t think we even realized we were in silent competition, but we all were. Wishing we had something that the other girl didn’t have and thinking how if we had that one thing that maybe our lives would be a little bit easier. But of course, they wouldn’t. I tore out Vogue magazine ads with wispy-looking models and posted them up on my walls—it was one of the first things I saw every morning and every night before going to bed. How could that not leave a mark in my brain?
Learning to Embrace Myself
Then, things got weirder. I moved to New York and became really close friends with a girl that embraced her natural curves. She had an appetite for classic red lipstick and going out at night and loved her body. And though we had totally different body types, she always made a point to tell me how pretty I looked that day or how good my hair looked. We became best friends.
She showed me how you can look beyond the magazine ads or fashion week runways and as long as you love yourself and embrace your natural body, you can be your own version of sexy.
This doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with having fat days. I remember looking at my side profile at one of my wedding dress fittings and thinking wow, I really need to go on a diet so I can get rid of that tummy pouch. We’re all heavily influenced by billboard ads, wedding magazines and everything in between. Even e-commerce websites and department stores still primarily use super-skinny models to represent their brands.
No More ‘Skinny’ Filters
I was recently impressed by the Good American website, a company founded by Khloe Kardashian and Emma Greed, that embraces all body types and uses size-inclusive models on their e-commerce website. You can choose your size and the image will show you what each item looks like on the different body types. What better way to show women that every body type is worthy of being shown off?
I see girls taking photos of each other in the streets or in a café, getting “their good angle”. Or asking a stranger to take another few photos because the others didn’t capture them quite right. But why do we think we haven’t captured ourselves quite right in photos? Is it really because we only see beautifully filtered photos that have been retouched to remove cellulite and define chin angles?
All this anxiety over looking perfect or getting a good photo leads to stress and unhappiness in our everyday life; we need to remember to live in the moment more and go back to letting cameras capture a moment without previews.
By the way, I’m guilty of all of this. I don’t like making a big stink about retaking photos because I genuinely like that cameras don’t lie. But I often won’t post a photo that isn’t flattering of me. I am learning how to stop censoring myself so much and honestly, it sometimes feels like reversing the Titanic.
I hope that more and more companies will start using models of all body types, ages and ethnicity to show how normal all body types are. Because we all need to understand that healthy body types come in all shapes and sizes and that we shouldn’t try to conform to what one person thinks is beautiful.
Reconnecting With Your Own Body
It’s a long, painful journey to finding faith in your own body. Letting your curves run their course, listening to what everyone around you has to say and trusting that your body will discover its own definition of beauty. It’s beyond time to break this archaic definition that skinny is beautiful and time to show the world that healthy is supreme.
I pledge to do my part by showing more imperfect photos of myself, sucking in my gut less regularly and showcasing one part of my body every day that I’m not as comfortable with. By giving thanks to this beautiful body that we’ve been gifted, we experience gratitude and joy in the little moments. How will you find your own beauty?