So, it's no secret that I adore Stephen Colbert. Taking my morning chai with last night's episode...yeah, that's a good start to a day. It's also no secret that I've struggled with self-esteem issues for a lot of my life. I grew up the fat kid. Being taller than most of my classmates for all of elementary school and shopping in the plus size section didn't exactly help when the pretty kids made fun of me. Even after I grew into myself and lost and gained weight (rinse, repeat ad infinitum) I constantly fight with the voice in my head telling me I'm too fat, too hairy, too pale etc. So, you can probably guess that I was thrilled to see my beloved Colbert tackle female insecurity. Take a look.
Seriously, Dove? Are you kidding me? The same people who are doing the "Love The Skin You're In" ad campaign, the same people who are saying that little girls shouldn't be ashamed of their freckles... you're going to start giving us new ways to criticize our own reflections? You're brandishing insecurity and using your brand status as authority. You're no better than other made up regulatory groups out there. You say you know what beauty is and think you know what's best for us. This, though, this is the last straw. This is bullshit.
Look, the irony that I was plucking my eyebrows whilst listening to the Report this morning is not lost on me. I'm a woman and I've grown up with these ideals (however ridiculous and unattainable they may be) thrust upon me from all angles of media. While I like to say I'm enlightened and that I don't need to lift-and-separate; have calves that pop with the perfect strappy sandals; have smooth, poreless skin; have lustrous, full-bodied hair without a tinge of grey...but only on my head, no errant eyebrows, chin whiskers, armpit or leg hair.... *deep breath* that voice in my head still tells me that my reflection isn't good enough. That I need to lose a quarter of my body weight before I reach "pretty" because beauty and fat do not coexist.
I have a daughter. She is 5. She tells me I'm beautiful because she doesn't have these societal inhibitions. She doesn't "know better". She goes to school wearing green and orange paisley print pants and a pink shirt and sparkling pink shoes because that is what she wants to wear. That's what makes her comfortable and that's her style. She isn't embarrassed about it, she doesn't care. She doesn't worry that she's too thin, tall, short, fat, thin...she just wants to be herself. Hell, on Halloween it's hard to get her to dress up because she is so damn comfortable with who she is she doesn't feel the need to pretend to be anything else.
I am jealous of that.
She doesn't know any better? She knows best.
Why do we do this to one another? Why do we give one another new things to be insecure about? I'm a writer, I'm insecure enough as it is. Why do we have infomercials about laser hair removal, back fat, crow's feet, full-grey-coverage? And really Dove? The same people who tell us to LOVE THE SKIN YOU'RE IN are just going to give us something new and completely stupid to worry about?
Fuck you, Dove.
You had me when you started that campaign. I loved you for it. The idea of turning the tide...telling fashion magazines to go fuck themselves because beauty is in every woman, not just Size 0 airbrushed, photoshopped blondes. Why do we do this to each other?! There's got to be a woman working at Dove or Unilever or Vogue or whatever who can just say, "This is demeaning." There's got to be a way that we as consumers, women and men, can say "FUCKING STOP!" This is not okay. Fueling insecurities, making new ones, giving power to that most critical voice in a girl's head... it's not okay. It's psychological abuse at our own hands. It's self-esteem suicide.
Don't buy into it.
I know, it's easier said than done and I know that this is coming from someone who uses Biore pore strips on my too-large beak of a nose and constantly laments the 60 pounds I've gained since I had my daughter. I'm not perfect (but then, the ad companies are banking on that), but that doesn't mean I should be made to feel even worse about bullshit problems that don't exist.
When I went home from school crying because the other kids called me a beached whale or fat ass or whatever the particular epithet was that day... my parents told me that it would change. That people wouldn't always be that way. Seeing this latest in frippery...I think my parents may have been wrong through no fault of their own. We're still picking on one another. We're still doing our damnedest to feel better about ourselves by belittling each other.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. You are stunning. You are the stuff of stars and you are meant to shine.
The hardest part is believing it, isn't it?