Look Closer

About a month ago, I was flipping through the TV channels after a long day of work, hoping to find something worth chilling out to. I wasn’t up for another faux dramatic rerun of Real Housewives, so I settled on The Miss America Pageant on ABC. Feeling rather confident with the workouts I’d put in that week, the clean eating I’d stuck with and managing negative thoughts, I considered myself emotionally able to enjoy the show without internally bashing or critiquing myself.

49 sets of laser-white smiles, cans and cans of orange fake tanner, and batches of false eyelashes later, my jaw dropped to see one of my old high school classmates in the running this year. My eyes nearly fell out of my head! I had that momentary twinge in my stomach a girl gets when she sees a “frenemy” at the Prom, wearing the EXACT same dress as she. Suddenly I wondered, “Am I living up to my greatest potential?” I have a great apartment in a wonderful location, fully decorated in just the modern feminine decor that I love. I have a fulfilling career and future ahead in fitness. I’ve worked my ass off to get rid of the 73 pounds I held on to for much too long. I consider myself a good daughter, good sister, and great friend. I have so many causes and non-profits that I’m incredibly passionate about. I’m funny, easy-going, intelligent, and I’m considerate of others. But all of that aside, am I Miss America title-worthy? I’d like to think so, but probably not by the competition’s unrealistic expectations.

Another harsh blow, remembering that most of today’s society sells on beauty alone, and never what’s really inside a person’s soul. Many of the girls on the show had probably dropped 10-15 pounds of weight in preparation to compete, but not for the right reasons: health, a life change, to set an example for others. They probably did it just to fit the “mold.” Screw you, mold.

I owe a lot of the instant recovery from that sour mood to one of my best friends, Alli, and we agreed that boob job or not, not having teeth-as-white-as-Chiclets, we were spectacular at our roles in life and didn’t need some crown to prove anything. I began to sympathize (but only temporarily) for the other 49 great girls who didn’t win that night. Think about getting that close to winning Miss America and then losing to someone else. Goodbye, self esteem!

A few days later, a good friend of mine shared a fabulous video on media’s portrayal of beauty and the standards set today by the technology of Photoshop and airbrushing. To find that video (worth all 6 minutes!), search YouTube for Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women. It’s so refreshing to hear from celebrity women themselves that they “don’t look like what you see in magazines and ads.” Brilliant. No one’s exempt from the critical comments, shame, and embarrassment. Today’s ideal woman has zero lines, wrinkles, scars, fat deposits, stretch marks, cellulite… or life experiences, in my opinion.

I thought for a while if I’d trade my chicken pox scars from when I contracted them as a teenager, or my stretch marks from being obese, or my broken nose from playing kickball (my favorite childhood game) when I was young. No. All three remind me that I’ve had wonderful experiences, bad experiences, and have had a life. What would it do if I hid them or corrected them? Especially with my stretch marks. They are daily reminders that I was in a dark place where I never want to be in my life- ever again. They are a constant reminder of where my bad habits and bad coping behaviors got me. Most have begun to fade, but they will forever be etched into my skin. I’m grateful for that.

I feel happy about who I am, where I am, and the incredible people who surround me in my life, never  a second farther away from supporting me again, like they always have done. I feel happy about this new relationship beginning to blossom with “G” (last post). He invited me to go out for some dessert for Valentine’s Day, which turned into another 5 hours, laughing ’til our stomachs ached and talking until midnight. He’s clearly not after an airbrushed form of perfection. Even with the sun spots, freckles, broken nose, and yes, those stretch marks, he treats me like a princess.

 

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