In the film Mean Girls, there is a moment where our heroine, Cady, has gone undercover with the Plastics. Not having been at an American high school before, Cady is free of serious hangups. Her new friends, standing in front of a mirror, each find a very specific fault with how they look.
“My hairline is so weird!”
“My pores are huge!”
“My nail beds suck!”
Cady, struggling for something to say, adds that she has really bad breath in the morning to the general disgust of the Plastics. But what the sequence is designed to show is that – even if we are Queen Bee – we can always find something we’re not happy with. If you’ve got great skin, beautiful eyes and hair that others would kill for, you’ll find something else.
We all have our problem areas. You could fill an entire high school gym with girls (another flashback to the movie there) and ask around. Each girl in that gym would have something they aren’t happy with. It may be something as seemingly minor as her nail beds, or something bigger. At least one will just point at herself and wave up and down, indicating there’s nothing she does like. But we all have at least one area we don’t like.
Is It Just A Girl Thing?
First things first: it’s not just girls who have issues with their appearance. There is a tendency to paint it that way, of course, and the female of the species is generally depicted as being more hung up on details. Guys worry too, although in general, they are reluctant to do it publicly. Possibly the main difference is that there just isn’t the same volume of body-shaming stories about men in the media.
Not that they don’t exist, but you could count on the fingers of one hand the men who have been pilloried for their hair in style articles. It happens to most women in the public eye at one time or another. And when that is the standard we’re expected to live up to…
There are other reasons, mostly cultural. Women are supposed to be delicate and beautiful. If they sit in a chair, they should barely make an imprint. They are meant to glide through life perfumed and beautiful. Guys are actively expected to be so unfeminine that it’s almost seen as weak to use conditioner.
So What Do We Do About It?
There are a few approaches we can take. The first one is just to own it, and if anyone has a problem with it, the problem is theirs. This is a sensible approach to take if that flaw is something you cannot change.
Tyra Banks, for example, talks about how her forehead is larger than most. She realized she couldn’t change it, drew attention to it by calling it a “five-head,” and made it work. Cindy Crawford, the most successful supermodel of the early 90s, turned her mole into a selling point.
It depends on how you feel about your flaw, and how others behave towards it. Some people feel that a big nose makes them look ugly. Others are of the opinion that a strong nose can make a woman stunning. A gap in the teeth can drive you mad, but some people have made it their selling point. It takes confidence to pull it off, but owning your flaws can give you empowerment.
Alternatively, some flaws can be de-accentuated with clever contouring. If you feel like you’re not going to be able to make your brow or your jawline into a feature of your appearance, clever makeup techniques can be helpful. There are countless tutorials online for these and other techniques.
Indeed, if you find that your contouring works wonders and is the envy of your friendship group, why not join that band? Makeup tutorials can land you a sponsorship deal if you make them engaging and funny.
What If It Affects Your Mental Health?
Let’s be clear. Anyone can tell you that beauty is skin deep, or that you’re the only one who even notices those flaws. But that’s not always true, and even if it is, we all notice things about ourselves enough for the rest of the world. It’s horrid to be bullied about your appearance, but all the worse when you’re the one doing the bullying.
People can be driven to extreme lengths to get rid of something that they feel is seriously impairing their life. For instance, if you’re carrying a bit of extra weight, extreme dieting will be a temptation.
Women of all ages have been driven to dangerous actions by dissatisfaction with their appearance. When you’ve changed your eating habits, kept going to the gym and still see those deposits when you look in the mirror, it’s frustrating. One in 100 female adolescents has anorexia. Stats suggest that 4% of college-aged US women are bulimic.
There are deep links between these and other eating disorders, and depression (http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/features/eating-disorders). When you look in the mirror and hate what’s looking back, kind words don’t often sink in.
In such cases, with stubborn issues that will not go away, something more needs to be done. Starvation or purging are detrimental to your health in so many ways. Although people often consider surgery to be a last resort, it is a savior to many. Consulting with the likes of www.liposuction-sandiego.com can give you some realism on your situation.
The same goes for other forms of cosmetic surgery. While there are some negative viewpoints towards surgery, a little pragmatism needs to be applied. It’s not a shallow vanity project. Surgeons themselves will tell you that the results of surgery are not a cure-all. But if you have been dieting and still have fatty deposits – which happens to a lot of us – then liposuction is a sensible way to proceed.
Isn’t This A Really Big Decision To Make?
It’s a big step, but you’re in good hands.
No decision about making a significant change in your life can be taken lightly. Whatever you do it has been done because you can’t sustain the status quo. And you should never make a big decision on your appearance without speaking to a friend or two first.
Most of us know that our friends will immediately turn to us and say “Oh, no, you don’t need to do that, you’re fine just as you are!”. What’s more, they will mean it. That’s what friends are for. If your mind is made up, you need to explain to them that no, this is something you need to do for you. You appreciate their support and would like to take it forward to the treatment and its aftermath.
Few things can make a person feel destabilized like an issue with their appearance. Because you’re conscious of it, you are convinced that everyone else is. Even if it is the fact that you don’t like your pores or your nail beds. Realistically, there’s no way they’ll be able to see the flaw, but in your mind, it is magnified.
It may be a time to speak to a professional who can look deeper into how this flaw affects you. Those of us who focus like a laser on one small part of our appearance are rarely just bothered about that one thing. It goes to our insecurities that we feel deeper down, and talking these out with a counselor may be useful to you.
Can You Change How You Think?
Let’s be honest – a lot of the advice that you will get when you have an issue with your appearance is well-meant but poorly directed. As noted, there will be no shortage of people to tell you you look beautiful. People will tell you that it should be you on the front of those magazines and not that supermodel. They’ll tell you to pay no attention to the glossy covers. And it will be in one ear and out the other.
That kind of advice, then, needs to be reconsidered. Reconsidered, though, does not mean ignored. There is the grain of truth in it. Magazine editors and publishers airbrush cover photos all the time. Other magazines put alarmist stories on their covers to get people to grab the magazine and read it. It works, but it’s problematic. It ends up informing people’s attitudes, which is where the real problem comes.
You can’t, then, just throw the magazines in the trash and ignore what they say, because other people will say it. That line of thinking has become pernicious because it becomes how you see yourself. It will take a lot of effort, but you need to get to a point where you’re happy with yourself and reach that by whatever means work. That does not mean an eating disorder – they are harmful and will never give you that perfect figure.
With the support of friends, some realism, and some research, you can deal with your problem areas and get on with life. It is worth living when you embrace yourself.
Thanks for reading, as always <3