You know what I’m talking about. The. Struggle. I’ve come to realize that every single woman in the world deals with this, no matter their size, socio-economic status, hair color, shoe size, job title, mothers, singles, divorcees…the older I get the more I see how it really is our number one cross to bear and our biggest obstacle to our own happiness.
Our desire, need and obsession with being beautiful.
I have yet to meet a client that felt she was at her peak and ideal beauty level. Just the other day I had a client that told me how much she hated the lines on her forehead and decided to get botox. It was when her right eyebrow was stuck in an upward position after having injections that her husband said if she did it again, he’d divorce her. And she said, as she sat getting her hair and makeup done: “Why did I even do that?? I love my short hair and began to grow it out. I got eyelash extensions…I got botox. Why? It wasn’t for my husband, that’s for sure. Why? OTHER WOMEN…that’s why.”
I had another client in my studio that reminded me we are all afloat on this dingy just searching and waiting to feel ok with ourselves. She’s a size 2, absolutely stunning and a model. She said to me, “I couldn’t even look in the mirror because I was so disgusted with what I saw looking back at me.”
The struggle is real. Knowing all women actively participate in this struggle, realizing we are all on the same team, understanding what it feels like to look left and right and wish you had those thighs, that hair, those breasts…why-oh-why-oh-why do we continue to do this to each other and to ourselves?
How have we not yet united in a singularly-focused mission to say fuck this shit?!?
It all started when we had to fight for the best provider to ensure our own survival and the survival of our children. I know you’re envisioning a family of cave dwellers but I’m talking about today. Now. You know it. I know it. Alive and well is the ongoing knowledge that there is still way too big of a population of women that still have to beat out the woman on their left and right for the guy in the room that has the best paycheck. And that struggle is real too. Yes, we’re in a better position now than our sisters that began the good fight so very very long ago. Our fight for control, equality and the right to just live our damn lives the way we want to is still happening, and will never go away, but we got smart, fought hard and most of us can now rely on our damn selves.
But that doggone innate, evolutionary drive and obsession with being physically appealing just. won’t. go. away.
And I know you want to blame men. Lordy, lordy they are such a fun and easy target. But ladies, and I say this with so much love and respect: men are just big dumb animals when it comes to our happiness. As my husband points out to me, regularly: “Bring me a sandwich, occasionally naked, and I’ll do anything you want.” You know I’m speaking the gospel here.
And yes, we could all blame the media. But but but but…who makes up the media? We do. Women and men. We set our own standards. Who do we blame? Ourselves, that’s who…and you know I’m right.
We all know true beauty is confidence. We have all been in that room with that group of women or that bar or that space where the woman in the room that no one could keep their eyes off of was not of the traditional beauty type. But she was magnetizing, captivating and yes, absolutely stunning. It’s us, ladies. We do this to ourselves, we do this to the woman standing next to us and we do this so often we don’t even realize when we are scanning the room to make sure we are not the fattest, ugliest or worst dressed in the room. Ha! Go ahead…tell me I’m lying.
Women, on average, spend about $300,000 in their lifetime on beauty products. Lest you think that’s not that bad, that doesn’t include procedures, injections, nips, tucks or the clothing we invest in to hide our wobbly bits or show off our gorgeous bum (if you’re lucky enough to have one). Holy. moly. cannoli.
And listen, this is not to say that you shouldn’t buy those products, you shouldn’t work out, you shouldn’t wear makeup, you shouldn’t spend silly amounts of money to hide those grays…people: I’m in the image business. My site is plastered with before & after photos showing how incredible women look all done up. That’s not what I’m saying.
What I’m saying is: I want to love myself regardless of my physical state and that that love is the hardest love I have ever, in my life, struggled with to give any person in this world. Me. Myself. That gal looking in the mirror and wanting so badly to look away. And I know that you feel the same way I do.
For me, it started in my late 30’s. I’ll spare you all the wobbly bits stories and blah blah blah. Let’s just say I’m tired of the yoyo diets, the love-hate relationship I have with myself and the seemingly uncontrollable desire to compete with every woman around me to be the thinnest and most beautiful in the room.
We eat ourselves alive daily, and the worst part is we go in head first, wayyyyyyyy more than willing participants in the destruction of our own selves, both outside and in.
We are our own cannibals.
Do you see the mask she is wearing in these photos? Now you know why.
I actively participate in my own self-destruction, and I know for a fact that you do too. In fact, I am my own team of 1 that raises my own bar of acceptance, and happily crosses the line, in what can only be described as the worst relationship I’ve ever had in my entire life. Me + Me.
I cannot even begin to imagine what I would do, how I would react or what my actions would be if someone treated my girlfriends, daughter, mother, nieces…etc. the way I treat myself. You know what I’m saying here.
So, what do we do? We fight, and not with each other. I have begun daily affirmations to myself and I have begun to be forgiving of myself. I have decided I can no longer allow the last thoughts I have at night before bed to be the counting of calories I had during that day, followed by the barrage of insults I give to myself for being so stupid to eat those calories. I have decided I can no longer wake up each morning and promise myself that today is the day! Today is the day I follow a diet, eat less, exercise more…blah blah blah.
When I look at you, I see you. I don’t see the flaws you think are a shining beacon of failure to anyone else in a 10 mile visual radius. Ever notice that? We never ever ever notice what is likely the single most hated things we can’t stand about ourselves when we look at another person.
I have flabby arms, a flat butt, a belly pouch and thighs that rub a little when I walk. Those arms have held my daughter, husband and friends in their times of need. That butt was sat on for hours while listening to loved ones tell me their hopes, dreams and fears. Those thighs are part of the legs that chased my daughter from room to room, listening to her giggles of glee and sheer delight at making mama run after her. That belly pouch created a life. Created a life. Jesus, Mary and Steve…CREATED A LIFE. And then this body, my body, sustained that life for an entire year just off of my own body!! Really think about that for a moment, ladies. I mean, holy mother of pearl. That’s simply amazing.
So you know what? I’m creating a club. I’m not sure of the title…something like “Wobbly Bits Unite”, or just simply “Team Woman”. I’m a bit politically incorrect and definitely 100% filthy-mouthed, so my favorite right now is “I’m Fat. Fuck Off.” I’d love to see that t-shirt on every size 0 through infinity. C’mon ladies…who’s with me??
OK–so let’s talk about these photos. I had decided a while ago to start a project called Dichotomy of a Woman, centering around the struggles we face as women and I call this one “The Perfectionist”. I don’t think I need to explain it. Yes, I know it is a stark and shocking photo. And I’m sure you know that was the desired effect. This is an on-going project and I’ll release images as I take them.
I have a simple hope with this post: the next time you look in the mirror think of these images, give yourself a smile, say something loving and then give yourself a big high-five.
And when in doubt: Put The Fucking Bathing Suit On.
Hair & makeup styling: At Home Beauty
Model: Ashley Giffin
Badass booties: Lauren Lorraine
Hot ass heels: Malone Souliers