There I was, standing at the mirror applying my makeup in the gym locker room when the pair walked in.
You know the type.
One had chiseled abs and a completely lean body that carried nothing but confidence. (Oh, and did I mention that teeny gym towel was wrapped completely effortlessly around her flawless waist? I mean, there were INCHES left over, people!)
Her friend, a beautiful blonde with curves in all the right places, stood next to her at a mirror behind me wearing a fancy (and flattering) bra with an equally small towel around her waist.
As my mascara wand moved the black inky stuff onto my lashes, I began innocently eavesdropping in on their conversation (What? There’s really nothing else to listen to in a gym locker room anyway!).
Chiseled Chick: I finally have my Botox appointment this afternoon.
(Me inside: GASP! People really DO that!)
Blonde Bombshell: Oh, you ought to get your spray tan going at the same time.
Chiseled Chick: Ya, (laugh) it’s one more thing that’s ‘fake’ about me. Fake hair color, fake tan…
Blonde Bombshell: Well, at least it makes us feel good about ourselves, right?
Chiseled Chick: (Audible snicker) Uh ya, sure.
The two proceeded to trade stories about their recent, “wild weekend” at a local night club, a place that didn’t have “fake girls with their butts hanging out of their shorts.”
Blonde Bombshell: The women that go there are more real…like us.
Look, I don’t care if you get your boobs done. I don’t even care if you decide to tattoo a picture of Justin Timberlake on your freakin’ forehead (I’d actually probably look at your face more than my phone if you did quite honestly), but if you’re going to make choices, don’t put other women down for theirs.
It’s like that super popular Megan Trainor song “All About That Bass.” At first, I was like “cool, they’re embracing a ‘real woman’s’ physique,” but then I also realized the lyrics put down women who were thin (“no treble”). Even Trainor recognizes the song is perceived as controversial, admitting she knew she’d receive flak on it for a long time.
That’s a problem.
In fact, I’m pretty sure we just ruined that whole “empowerment” point, ladies.
How can we believe that we are ever improving stigmas, the perceptions of women, or impacting how women are treated if we put each other down? (Throw the flag on the field; I realize I’ve edged into the cliché end zone here, but stay with me.)
There are some good things going on in cyberspace on this topic, however.
I loved reading an article a few months back by Celebrity TV Transformation Specialist Heidi Powell who let the curtain fall away when she revealed her insecurities, imperfections and even her (ahem) enhancements in a post entitled “I am perfect.” And, apparently, her words struck a chord with a whole lot of women across the country, drawing hundreds of thousands of hits on her website and getting picked up by the Huffington Post.
So why is it so surprising when we hear another woman honestly share the extremes she goes to in order to achieve “perfection?”
I don’t have all the answers, but I know based on my own life experiences that the following are true:
1. We are trying to find acceptance when it begins and ends only with ourselves. It’s like running out of your house thinking you’ll find the keys to your house outside somewhere. It’s your house. You live there. Your habits are throughout that house. Why are you relying on your environment outside of your home to try to find keys that are likely hanging out inside?
2. We believe in “IF” more than ourselves. We believe that IF we hit that certain size, that number on the scale, buy that car, that outfit or that whatever, we’ll “arrive.” There will always be dissatisfaction and “not enough” as long as we rely on superficial circumstances and objects for our contentment. That’s just not where ultimate contentment comes from.
3. We’re desperately focusing our attention on something that seems easier to control than our lives. Look, life happens. Stupid, unpredictable, hard stuff happens. It’s not fair, it’s not right and it’s down right defeating much of the time. And, yes, just in the same way we can decide to destroy our health by indulging in foods that make us “feel good,” we can do the same by whittling ourselves down to that up-on-a-pedestal size. But what’s left at the end of the day? Our problems. They don’t go away.
I’m not going to blame TV or models or marketing or anything else out there. Agree or disagree with me on this point, but do we not have control over what we allow to cross our path and influence us? You can turn the channel. You can stop reading the fashion magazines. You can boycott stores. Sure, it’s more passive and perhaps if you really feel passionately about the subject, you’ll go after Victoria’s Secret when they post a huge centerfold on the pillar of your neighborhood outdoor mall.
But the point is, wherever you land on this subject, it all comes back to this:
Let’s be real, ladies.
Let’s be honest with each other. Tell a friend when you’re struggling with your job, your relationship or your health. Talk to a trusted counselor when you feel like your sanity is hanging by a thread.
At the end of the day, you can choose to make your body as “fake” as you want, but do it for YOU and not to mask your feelings or achieve an end goal that really isn’t going to result in true, lasting satisfaction.
Just keep it real.