If you’ve ever hated what you see when looking in the mirror; if you’ve ever deprived yourself of food or almost passed out from working too hard at the gym in order to burn that 100 extra calories; if you’ve ever found yourself thinking, “Ugh, she shouldn’t be eating that,” or “That outfit is a little slutty” when looking at another woman; if you’ve ever insisted that you’ll commit suicide once you turn 40: this article is for you.
Ladies, something’s gotta give. The judgments of ourselves and other women about age, weight, looks, clothes, etc has got to stop. We are wasting our time and relinquishing our inherent power to a system dictated the hive mind of a faceless “society” and followed nearly blindly by so many of us. Seriously.
Mind you, I’m guilty of it myself. Open any magazine and you’ll receive a message loud and clear about exactly what constitutes a valuable woman: 110 lbs, perfect skin, teeth and hair, roughly between the ages of 21-26. It doesn’t matter if you speak four languages or could talk for hours about binomial nomenclature. No one’s interested that you have more books than pairs of shoes or that you were the only girl who fought to play on your high school’s football team. No, as far as the world is concerned, you exist to look good in order to be good to look at. Or at least, that’s what they’d have you believe.
This is nothing new, of course. The media has been responsible for narrowing the view of the ideal woman and forcing it down our throats for decades. But ladies – we’re not doing anything to help ourselves. We try to overcome it or ignore it, but we inevitably succomb to it, in one way or another. We judge ourselves and because of it, we slowly begin to judge one another. We’ve all given another woman a side-eye over a skirt that’s too short, or make-up applied too thick, or that extra french fry eaten by a girl who is not a size 0. Even if we catch ourselves, it happens. And that’s really, really sad.
When we subscribe to the societal doctrine that we, as women, exist to fit in a box as these shiny, pretty things to look good (generally on a man’s arm, but that’s a whole other thing), we continue to validate those very ideals that we should be fighting against and reshaping. In addition, we encourage each other as women to continue to validate those ideals. The girls you’re judging for wearing too much make-up or dresses that are too tight is probably doing so in the vain attempt to escape that very judgment. It’s a vicious circle, but one that can ultimately be stopped.
I’m going to say something revolutionary: You are not your age, your weight, your hair, your skin or your clothes. You are not your favourite magazine’s opinion of you, you’re not what your ex-boyfriend thought of you or what your current boyfriend thinks you should be. You aren’t any of that. It’s that simple. Really.
So, what are you, then? That’s for you to decide. Learn to value the things in yourself and others that people would have you believe aren’t worthwhile. Insecure about your weight? Appreciate that you have the curves to wear outfits that some thinner girls might envy you for. Extremely thin? You look great in designer clothes! There’s no one right way to look, no one right body to have or way to style your hair. Frankly, it’d be pretty boring to live in such a homogenous world, so play up the things which make you unique and own them!
Insecure about getting older? Be proud of the fact that you have the life experience to have a better understanding of the world around you and wisdom to offer those who are younger than you. No one looks up to dumb ass 21-year-olds, do they? (I say this as a “dumb-ass” 20-something myself, and mean it in the most light-hearted way possible.) The most inspiring and interesting women I’ve ever met have been over 35, proud of the years behind them but excited about the ones ahead, as well, which they can approach with the grace and contentedness that I find to be beautiful.