Perfection, Pessimism, and the Physical Body: Accepting and Loving Your True Self
Since starting The Unicorn Life, I've been spending a lot more time on social media, doing my best to utilize all these amazing free platforms to put myself and my blossoming blog out into the world. I've started following a lot of 'internet famous' fashion, beauty, and yoga bloggers, all of whom have thousands of followers and post amazing photography of their individual badass skills. There are countless beautiful humans on instagram sharing their passions with the world, each one of them more talented than the next. I've always advocated that social media does more good than it does harm, and I still believe that even after delving deeper into that online world. Social media is a great way to get inspired, pick up new ideas, or just browse through your favorite profiles or tags. I can spend hours exploring the vast and never-ending imagery. It's thrilling when you come across a page that you absolutely love, like finding a secret treasure chest. And if you realize down the line that you don't like what someone posts, it's easy to unfollow them with the click of a button.
I think the tricky part is what happens when you DO like what someone posts. Let's say you start following one blogger that's always wearing the latest trends, has flawless skin, and is a make-up artist. Then you love following this yoga teacher because they are way better at yoga than you are and look at those food porn pics! Then there's the girl that has a personal trainer boyfriend and the cutest dog, AND she lives on a beach in a gorgeous house that's decorated so hippie chic so obviously you follow her. I know that I follow at least 50 accounts that are all either make-up artists, fashion bloggers, yogis, or interior decorators. I love that stuff, so of course I want to see all the awesome content that these people are sharing.
But sometimes there is a part of me that's like, ugh I wish my skin looked like that make-up artists' does, and I wish I could do perfect handstands like that yogini can, and I wish I could buy that dress, and eat that food, and live in that house. Seeing all this stuff creates envy, it makes us want to go out and buy what that other person has in the hopes that we can look like their pictures. It creates an image in our head of whatever we deem 'perfection.' And that can be dangerous. It can cause our self-esteem to drop because we tell ourselves that we can never do the things that those people do. We think, 'there is my perfect life, but I'll never have it."
The thing is, people and their lives in reality are much different than people and their lives on social media. People portray the best moments of their own realities because that's what we want to remember, those moments are the ones that are important to us that we want to share. Bloggers or businesses put up images that match editorials in the media because we know that's what people generally like to see and we want the masses to like us and check out our work, our talents, and what we are offering. Everyone uses social media differently, and for different reasons. What you read and see there may not always be an accurate representation of reality. I for one look very different without make-up and in my yoga clothes than I do with full make-up and a bangin' outfit. I think that can be said for most people. What's important is to recognize and accept that one of these 'versions of you' isn't better or worse than the other. All versions of you, are just you.
We are all out here living real lives, and real lives are full of ups and downs. Our lives are messy and we as humans are always imperfect. Society and media teach us we can only be happy if we look a certain way and many of us hold ourselves to that standard and never waver for fear of being labeled as different. What we fail to realize is that our differences are what make us who we are. If you don't like the latest trends, create your own. Put on your make-up the way YOU want to, or not at all. Follow your passions, whether it's yoga and photography or skateboarding and calligraphy. It's so important to recognize that social media, while it maybe a part of our lives, doesn't define who we are. And that the people we follow, while we may look up to them or be inspired by their talents, aren't a standard to hold ourselves against. They are who they are, and you are who you are.
I would say 90% of the time, I feel awesome about myself. I love myself, I'm working on my flaws, I'm putting in effort to be a better version of me and I'm not focused on what the girl next to me is doing or how she looks. But we all have days that are that other 10%. Days where we wake up and we see flaw after flaw. I know there are times when I look in the mirror and all I see are new zits, old scars, and several stray mustache hairs. On those days I notice that my eyes aren't symmetrical, that my nose is slightly crooked, that when my face is relaxed my cheeks look saggy and I look like I'm upset. Sometimes I feel like a pus-filled slug. And that's okay. It's going to happen. We are always our own worst critics. We see every 'flaw' because we know our physical bodies best; we've lived in them for years. We also live in a world filled with unrealistic expectations.
We are literally bombarded with images everyday, everywhere of what 'perfection' supposedly looks like. Thin bodies, flawless skin and symmetrical features haunt us at the grocery store, at the mall, and all over the internet. Images that are airbrushed and photographed under perfect lighting by someone who is paid to make people look good. We see these images over and over again and that's what we compare ourselves to. We think, if I don't look like all those women look I'm not pretty. We are never shown images of toe hair, or cellulite, or acne scars, and so we shy away from these things and label them 'gross' or 'unnatural' even though these are normal things for almost everyone.
How do we feel good about ourselves again? I think the best way is to accept that we are not perfect. That good pictures of ourselves are not synonymous with our self-worth. It's important to be able to shut off all the outside exposure and take a second to look inside, to really be with yourself. As much as I love liking all the awesome pictures on Instagram, sometimes I need a break. We need to get away from those images and get back to who we are as humans. Find time to be outside in nature and get away from all those endless images. Put away your phone and take a moment to sit in the sun and look at all the beauty the world has to offer. Listen to the sounds around you, and take it all in. Take the time to look in the mirror after you've just woken up and find the beauty in your own face. Be able to look past the imperfections that are so often the focus of attention, and find the things that you love about your body.
The next time you find yourself yearning to be more like someone else or focusing on your flaws and feeling down, remember that each one of us is so much more than just a physical being. Remember that these bodies we inhabit are unique and flawed and it's these differences that make each one of us perfect in our own way. Our physical bodies do so many miraculous things for us on a daily basis and are home for the person we are inside, our true selves. Your true self is who you are when no one is looking. It's your personality, your mind, your heart and soul. It's the best version of yourself, and it's always changing. Take a deep breath, and tell yourself that it's okay. It's okay to be exactly who you are.
It's okay, and you are beautiful.