Saturday, 16 July 2011

Being beautiful

When I was a teenager there were always conversations about body image and being skinny and having a certain body type and I always thought that the times would change and people wouldn't be as obsessed about it when I grew up. You know how they say the media perception of the perfect body shape changes? Well I kind of assumed that a healthier body shape would be normal now, instead we still have the size 0 debate and I struggle with it more and more every day.

I love fashion and I feel I have kind of become desensitised to images of models looking gaunt and ill and being able to see their bones jutting out. My dad will often sit down with me to watch fashion programs or the latest sitcom I love and his comment about how skinny the girls are brings me back to reality, especially when I realise most of these girls are big compared to the accepted size 0 of today. It seems no matter how many people talk about how disgraceful this, or how many models die through eating disorders, or many little girls develop body issues from thinking they are 'fat', we are still being told that super skinny = beautiful.

As much as the size 0 and skinny debate riles me. What riles me more is watching a show by the beautiful Katie Piper, this girl is brave, courageous and amazing and she deserves so much praise. But why can people not see her as a normal human being as well? Why are the Beautiful Friends she introduced us to in her TV show seen as being less than any of 'us' because they have a disfigurement? Why can we not look at them and accept them as human beings who have the same feelings and emotions as us. I feel that it shocked some people to see these people and discover they were not stupid, or self loathing or vengeful but in fact just trying to deal with something handed to them that made them stronger and more amazing than most of us 'normal' could be.

The older I get, the more I struggle with this idea of beauty. I still find it shocking that a black girl isn't as likely to be on a runway in Paris fashion week as a white girl. Or that a redhead has to accept being called 'Ginge' in a derogatory term because people consider it 'ugly'. Or that someone who has one arm causes such a stir when they start presenting children's TV. It sickens me that there is a set look that you can have to be considered beautiful and if someone from outside of those rules miraculously breaks through, they are considered shocking and different. There is no two ways about it, it is a pretty disgusting message to be sending young people.

We are told from a young age that our differences are what make us unique yet somehow we are losing this as we grow up... I have no problem with someone wanting to be healthy, in fact I think it is great, but I really do not think that most of the size 0 women are healthy. I do believe that some people are naturally skinny and that is fine, but it's clear the trend is not for skinny healthy models but for extra skinny models who survive on very little. I especially do not think that women who are desperate to lose baby weight, or drop lots of weight for a certain event are very healthy. Do something you can maintain, Kelly Osbourne has lost a lot of weight and good on her she looks awesome but she's not shrinking to the point where I see all her bones stick out or she looks gaunt, she looks slim and healthy. And to be honest, did she really look awful when she was bigger? She, and everyone, should do what makes them happy and healthy and I truly believe it would be better to be 5 pounds overweight than 5 pounds underweight.

I worry that my nieces and nephews are going to grow up in tougher times where having the beautiful crazy curls of my 4 year old niece will cause her to feel ugly, or my 3 year old nephews gorgeous strawberry blonde locks will get him bullied, or my 2 year old nephews permanently spiky hair will make him insecure, or my 6 year old nieces enthusiasm for all things in life will get her called 'weird' and stifle her creativity.

Life is not about conforming, it is about finding out what makes you unique from everyone else and showing it off to it's fullest. I never wear matching colours or conventional clothing but why should I? I don't dress provocatively or outlandishly, I just dress colourfully and it makes my world a little bit brighter. I have strawberry blonde hair and recently dyed it bright ginger as I wish that was my natural colour, is it offensive or upsetting to anyone? No, so why do people still think I'm mad to dye my hair that colour, it is beautiful and frankly so am I with it. My nearest and dearest are all so different and that's why I love them.

My boyfriend loves electronic music, rock climbing, sailing, Hunter S Thompson, wearing combats, hoodies and boots everywhere and they are some of the reasons I love him. I also love his non-perfect look, his constant update in his style and the fact he doesn't do anything for anyone else. Why would having completely ripped muscles, perfectly coiffed hair, fake tan and a love of football make him more acceptable? Everyone is who they are and they should be appreciated for it.

Why do people want to look like David Beckham or Angelina Jolie? These two are both beautiful and amazing because they are UNIQUE and do what they want to do, not because they follow a norm that everyone should follow. It's not about being deliberately different, it's about embracing you at your best. At the risk of sounding like a Lady Gaga song, if you are happy within yourself then who cares what other people say you should be, love your life and love yourself because it's who you are.

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