I have heard every self-love, anti-shaming talk, read every ‘you’re all beautiful’, fat celebrating article. I have rejoiced at the idea that real women can all of a sudden be considered beautiful too. We all knew it, now media and society are starting to come around. But I find myself despairing at the same time.
The truth is, in our ‘love everybody’, politically correct, socially conscious murmurings, our fight against the man, “I matter too” bandwagons, we gloss over the harsh, unbending realities of life. I am sure that whatever I say next will offend someone, but I feel the need to say what never gets said.
Ugly people exist. (Gasp, cover your children’s ears)
No, I’m not referring to people who are ugly on the inside, caring only for themselves and squashing the little guy.
Neither am I saying that anyone ever deserves to be shamed, unloved or not appreciated for their personalities, achievements, kindness or confidence.
But we know the difference between ugly and pretty.
I can already hear you crying out to shut me up. But wait. Just a moment.
Love it or hate it, I have always known what was attractive or not. We know when we’re kids that we want to look like the movie stars and not like the monsters. It’s an awful truth, whether it’s taught or innate but no matter the cultural morays, the concept of attractiveness is built in. Whether your culture likes long necks, big butts, blonde hair or fat rolls, there is always a hierarchy of attractiveness, who’s HOT and NOT, although we never mention it overtly in adult society any more except to denigrate it. Whether or not we admit it, we all have some idea of where we (and others) stand. And we know when we fall short.
But t’s not something we can actually change.
We can mask it with makeup, get plastic surgery, or wear a pushup, or a corset, we can change the cards we’re dealt but we still rate ourselves on an impossible scale. And maybe that’s the best part of the whole ‘accept yourself’ movement. You are who you are. Love yourself. See the beauty in everyone.That part I can get behind.
There is not a single person who I know who I would consider ugly, regardless of how they might look. Because “ugly” has a connotation that means something much meaner than just “less attractive”. It means, you are worth less than others. It means, your life is harder. It means, you don’t matter.
And that’s the issue I have with the whole goddamn argument.
Who gives a shit how you look, if you’re fat, or pretty or disfigured or wear makeup or don’t wear makeup? Why do we spend so many hours validating ourselves and each other and then turn around and read makeup tutorials and fashion magazines and go on crazy diets for the new year? WHY DO YOU CARE? If what’s inside is what counts then why do we need to validate anything about the outside?
If` the system is broken then beauty is inconsequential.
OF COURSE you’re amazing if you’re smart and funny and talented and kind, but then why do you also feel the need to be pretty? Why do we obsess? Not as one small thing, but as the ONLY thing that really matters. It presses in on you from all sides, the media, your peers, but it really exists for one reason: to sell pretty shit that makes you feel better.
And it’s just not worth that effort and pain. Because no matter how much makeup you put on, or cute shoes you buy or diets you go on, you will always have the same genes. You will always be you. Not ugly, but probably not the most attractive person in the world either. And while you’re spending all that time in front of the mirror trying to change how you look, you’re wasting the time you have on worthless things that don’t change anything at all.
What makes you worth something is not how you look, it’s what you are, what you achieve, the things about yourself you can change and create. You are a blank canvas to be filled with colour, you are a symphony continually being formed and played, you are a story with a choose-your-own adventure.
By saying “everyone is beautiful” we are saying no one is. We are putting forward stunning images of women of all shapes and sizes and still focusing on the WRONG thing. Yes, there is beauty in everyone. But you don’t fix a system obsessed with looks by saying “look at something else”. All that happens then is that the society changes what it finds attractive and suddenly big butts are really in, short hair is a-la-mode, nose piercings have a comeback. I don’t know. Whatever.
The focus is just shifted to a different part of the outside, while the inside suffers.
Instead of saying “You’re all beautiful” to little girls we should be saying:
“You’re all amazing. You each have the potential to do wonderful, unique things. You are all gifted with different skills, different perspectives and these will lead you down different paths. You will be painters and doctors and architects and plumbers and you will craft out your world as you see fit. You create beauty.”
Just don’t lie to us. We know what’s real.