Writing by Sinead Simpkins // Illustration by Ayelen Lujan
When I was in primary school, I developed faster than my peers. I started growing boobs and having pubic hair at age 10, and I felt out of place. I felt ashamed and hated the new changes. As I moved into high school, I was still self-conscious. I developed stretch marks, started getting pimples and gaining weight, and my boobs kept growing. I had no motivation to lose weight, but the idea that I wasn’t thin or the ‘right’ body shape was lodged in the back of my mind and it was not until recently that I began to feel even remotely comfortable.
The reason why I became sort-of comfortable in my skin is because I started thinking that there is only one me in the world. There is no other person who is 100% like me. If I had a twin, my twin would not be 100% like me. It goes with the idea of, “be yourself, don’t die a copy”, which is true. The only person that can be an awesome and beautiful version of yourself is you. This idea of being positive about your body and yourself can be hard to learn. It cannot be learnt overnight—rather, it is something you will continue to learn for the rest of your life.
Savannah Brown, one of my favourite YouTubers and slam poet, did a slam about the expectations of beauty and body image on wom*n. Part of her slam called What Guys Look For In Girls goes,
“But sometimes we forget that because we live in a world where the media pulls us from the womb, nurses us, and teaches us our first words: skinny, pretty, skinny, pretty, girls, soft, quiet, pretty, boys, manly, muscles, pretty. But I don’t care whether it’s your gender, your looks, your weight, your skin, or where your love lies. None of that matters because standards don’t define you.”
I cannot express enough how deeply I relate to her slam or this section of it. Media portrayals put pressure on us to be skinny, to remove all pubic hair, not to act like such a “man”, and think that we need to be saved. It illustrates that the media wants us to be all copies, like robots. It’s physically impossible to meet the media’s expectations of beauty and femininity.
The Daily Mail talks about if Barbie was to be an actual woman. The proportions become unrealistic. She would be incapable of lifting her head, she would have a 16-inch waist, 3.5 inch wrists, 6 inch ankles, and would be required required to walk on all fours. The doll that we all loved as a child is unrealistic for any human, so why do we aim for unrealistic beauty when it is better to be just you?
For me, personally, I am still learning. I have been called beautiful and attractive, and although there are days where I do not believe it, there are also days that I do. I love that I have blue eyes, or that certain dresses suit me. If it’s hard to know why you are beautiful and should love your body, go and look at yourself in the mirror. Instead of listing things that you hate, list things that you think are unique and that no-one else has. Call your scars or your stretch marks, tiger stripes. Even if there are days that you say that you look good in sweatpants, that is something. See the beauty in yourself.[share]