Obsession with looks: a study in self destruction.

Obsession, on its own, is a destructive feeling. Obsession with something naturally unattainable yet still perceived as attainable is agonizingly maddening. Thank you, America. I’ve spent years…YEARS worrying, thinking, and analyzing the way I look. What. A. Waste.

When I was younger, I didn’t want to wear make-up. I think I subconsciously knew that make-up would be something that would give me hope to look like I wanted, yet not to the extent I wanted. I also knew that I didn’t even want to care about something so illogical. Even among all the negative comments and actions I faced, and the desire to look like something unattainable, I still tried to fight it.

I am fair-skinned with red hair. Some people love it. Most people seem to….well…..not. I can’t tell you the countless times I’ve heard someone say to me or right next to me how they need to be tan. (“I need to get some sun.” or the worst… “I’m sooooo pale!” like it is some kind of horrid disease.) Ummmm….”hey, I’m RIGHT here. Oh wait, you probably didn’t see me because you thought I was a ghost.” I often have a hard time understanding people’s level of consideration of other’s feelings but over the years I’ve just realized people lose their filters….annnnnnd simply don’t think before they speak. But even still, why is being pale such a bad thing? There are 47 million other personal flaws I could talk about right here but let’s move on to what is wrong with this obsession and why it is so debilitating.

As I’m thinking about what I’m going to write in this post in order to persuade others to think differently about the obsession with physical attractiveness, I’m looking in the mirror and wondering why I’ve wasted so much of my energy thinking about it. That’s exactly what it does- obsession zaps your energy and steals it from something much more productive. I could have learned a skill, I could have learned to dance, I could have had more fun and felt free.

Free. I think about all the naturally pretty girls with flawless skin, perfect hair and symmetrical everything. These are the girls who you find quoting things like “Live, love and be free.” “Don’t worry what other people think because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Yeah…..easy for you to say. If I was that naturally perfect, I could say all that crap with no reservations too. What we need are people who are not absolutely perfect to have the confidence to say these things to show others that anyone can legitimately feel this way. But how? My first thought is to move to a country that isn’t so obsessed with a particular look. Oh what particular look am I talking about? This one.

Sorry to all the tan blondes out there but I have always thought that if you were to take away those two things most of these girls with these two characteristics would not stand out as much. No offense to the blonde tan ladies out there that would still be naturally gorgeous without it. I’m just talking to the ones who now don’t look anything like they did naturally. And the thing is…guys fall for this. Every. Time. Well most guys anyway. Okay, I’m just talking about douchebags, but aren’t those the ones with all the comments that have shaped the way me and the rest of America thinks about their own looks?

When Lindsey Lohan came out and was popular, I was in heaven. I was told I looked like her on a daily basis. It was the dawn of a new age where red hair and pale skin were cool and most importantly, attractive, for the first time in my lifetime. I was so happy I wanted to write her a letter. Well, now I’d like to write her a different type of letter…ahhhh Lilo. In any case, I haven’t felt like that since her fateful decline.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Image ImageKelly Lilo

I perceive perfect girls as more free than me. They have bodies that they can flit around in and sit and stand in any position they please. They have faces with perfect skin that they can touch at anytime without ruining the make-up that covers an imperfection. They can dress in whatever they want and still look very pretty. Everyone else on the other hand learns to stand and sit in positions that show the least cellulite, not to touch their face because they will ruin the best it’s going to look, and dress up at all times in order to hide that they are not perfect. It. Is. Exhausting. Not to mention, time-consuming. Ask my boyfriend how long it takes me to get ready. (Another example of how pretty girls are free – more time) They are free from the negative comments of others too, whether it is direct or indirect. And this, my friends, is why they feel free to update their status to and wear shirts that say something like “Wild and Free” or what’s worse – the shirt below. Wow.

girl frolicking flawless skin not dressed up Petite and free

(Picture 1: Free and frolicking. Picture 2:Flawless skin. Picture 3:Flawless skin AND comfy clothes AND perfect natural features. Ugh. I hate # 3. She better be a really good, sweet person. #4 Blatant bragging. Yeah…we can see you’re petite. We don’t need it spelled out. I swear to God if I ever see a girl wearing this, I will punch her right in the mouth.)

And another thing: Facebook. There are lots of organizations that are challenging America’s standards by recognizing that diversity is beautiful. Example: Dove. But, then came Facebook. All of a sudden people you KNOW are perfect and they don’t have access to high tech photoshop tools. They just look THAT perfect in all of their photos they post. So now we know that REAL people can be as pretty as celebrities. Great.
We’ve all heard this ingenious quote:


Well, thanks to Facebook and Instagram, everyone is allowed to now PUBLICIZE their highlight reel through pictures…and boy, do they look perfect. (Especially with filters) Oh filters. I absolutely love them because they make me look like I think I look until I see a picture of myself without one. And knowing this, in turn, lowers my self-esteem even more. But I will certainly not stop using them. Ever.

And then there is the Selfie. Many articles have been written that taking these and posting them makes you a narcissist. I think that depends. I’ve been taking selfies since before digital cameras. And, it has always been in an attempt to like the way I look more than I do. I think some who take these do truly love the way they look. For me, it’s fully based on insecurity. If I can take the perfect selfie and it still vaguely looks like me then I will feel better about myself. (For every good one there are about 29 bad ones I have to delete.) Knowing that it took that much effort also lowers my self-esteem. See a trend?

Selfie 2 Selfie 3 Selfie Selfie 5

(Sometimes I hate my smile so the duckface works better. Sue me.)

I don’t know what to tell people about how to think differently about this insufferable topic. I’ve spent too much time being trapped by this and I don’t see a way out without everyone in the world confirming that I am in fact, pretty, stunning, striking, beautiful and gorgeous (<-That one is my favorite.) This is sick though. I shouldn’t need that.

I read a book once that had a dialogue between a mother and a daughter. The daughter wondered if she was pretty and the mother said something along these lines: “I’m never going to tell you or compliment you on your looks. You didn’t earn them, you were born with them. People shouldn’t get compliments on something they didn’t work for or earn.”

Could you imagine if we lived in a world where we were only complimented on things we took time to earn? There would probably be a lot more educated girls out there doing amazing things with their lives. Think about if girls spent all the effort that goes into their looks into a skill. Wow. That would be a much better place to live.

Leo Tolstoy

I’d love to see this but all I see, especially on Facebook, is tons upon tons of compliments about how pretty a girl is. This, in turn, makes it seem like compliments about ones looks are something girls should earn. If that is what gets you compliments, how else could someone possibly see it any differently? I’d love to start seeing compliments like, “You’re so smart, clever, creative, hard-working, caring, talented, etc.” Can we start this please? Until then, just tell me I’m gorgeous. 😉

mustache selfie

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