“You will never look like the girl in the magazine. The girl in the magazine doesn’t even look like the girl in the magazine.” -Jessiemae Peluso
Appearance shouldn’t really be something we focus on, but that seems to be all that matters to some people. I mean we as a society parade girls around to be judged on their looks from a young age like it’s normal. From a young age, I was convinced I was supposed to look a certain way like the people on television and in magazines. Everyone has these insane beauty standards that I could never meet.
There were always outside pressures, but the biggest pressure was from inside my own family. The people who are supposed to love and be there for you were the people who made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. My grandparents were always concerned with my appearance. My grandmother always scolded my mom for letting me eat what I wanted. She would sit there and watch me eat and say things like “Are you sure you should be eating that it’ll make you fat… well fatter.” She’d scream at me for eating carbs or even just eating. I’d lose my appetite when she’d make a comment or just give me one of those looks.
It didn’t stop there. She also threatened me for vacations. She told me if I didn’t lose fifty pounds in a set period of time that I wasn’t going to be allowed to go on the family trip to Disney World, and she was serious. I barely ate anything and would work out for hours everyday because I wanted to go so badly and I lost enough to go. I kept it off for a long time because I wouldn’t eat. I was so miserable not eating anything I liked or getting to really be a kid I didn’t even eat cake on my birthday.
I was glad I lost weight and had already been trying to because of all the comments people had been making at school. Horribly, nasty comments based solely on my appearance. The one that stuck the most was I overheard a guy say that they would rather kiss another guy than me because I was so ugly and fat. When I changed it, I was accepted even though I was the same person.
It went farther than that though my grandmother and everyone else had to throw in their two cents on every detail. If I didn’t wear makeup I wasn’t perceived as pretty, but if I wore two much, i was perceived as a whore. If I didn’t dress up, I was lazy, but if I did, I was too high maintenance. If I wore my hair straight, I was told I should curl it, but if I curled it, I was told it would look better straight. If my shorts or dresses were too long, I was a prude, but if they were too short, I was a whore. How is anyone supposed to feel good about themselves if everyone always has a snide comment?
I’ve never thought of myself as pretty, and the things people have said have ruined any self-esteem I ever had. I look in the mirror and all I see is flaw after flaw.
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” -Confucius
Eventually, I decided not to care. I gained weight, and I’m chubby so what? I dress how I want to with what I like. I fix my hair how I want, and I do my makeup how I want. I’m not going to try to impress anyone. I don’t really care what they want. I’m happier this way. I’m doing what makes me the happiest. I still don’t have a high self-esteem, but I’m not stressing over how I should look and what others want.
People may not look at me and think I’m beautiful, but beauty shouldn’t be skin deep because looks fade. Beauty should be deeper. It should come from inside and who you are because that is much more meaningful. Who you are as a person is way more important than how you look on the outside. Maybe if this was the message society sent, more people would feel comfortable in their own skin.