I am celebrating imperfection today. And so should you. “Perfect” is a rather outdated (and boring) concept, don’t you think? Not to mention nonexistent.
“One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist… Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.” – Stephen Hawking
And yet here we are, chasing the unattainable. We are buying into the media’s idea of what perfection looks like, smells like, talks like, walks like, dresses like, and acts like. We know it’s unreasonable, but we run after it slobbering like a bunch of idiots, staring glassy-eyed at the photoshopped models on the covers of magazines, fantasizing about what it would be like to look like them, be them, or be with them. On some level we know that they’re not real people, we know they’re edited versions of real people, and still we compare ourselves to them. We hungrily flip to the section about that latest diet craze, glancing furtively around us to make sure no one saw that we’re buying into what is obviously pure bullshit thrown together to sell copies.
Obviously that doesn’t apply to all of us… But the essence of it is alive and well in many of us on some level, isn’t it? Are we maybe buying into some of it unconsciously, even if we aren’t consciously buying into any of it?
The concept of beauty is an incredible part of the human experience, albeit one that lies in the eye of the beholder. Naturally, ideals of beauty vary greatly from culture to culture. But when society and the media constantly shove unrealistic ideals down our throats, it has an impact. The pressure to attain these ideals leads to everything from bullying and body shaming to eating disorders and suicide. Especially among youth. Especially among young women. We know this now and we still let it happen. That is NOT ok. Please let’s step up our game and make a change.
I do think that things are beginning to shift and I’m ecstatic about it. I’ve noticed a significant change in the voice and tone of cultural messages about beauty in recent years, haven’t you? Definitely in social media. Less dramatically in traditional media, but it’s happening. I’m cautiously optimistic and my heart is filled with hope every time I see an ad or video that rises up and instead promotes more useful things to strive for like self love, self acceptance, strength, self awareness, respect, and an appreciation for different body types.
There is nothing sexier than a person who is comfortable in their own skin, no matter what they look like. <<Tweet this>>
As individuals we can take responsibility for building our own inner power and confidence and letting go of comparing ourselves to other people (and photoshopped people.) We can learn to own it, whatever “it” is. In addition to the attention and intention we focus inward, however, don’t we have a responsibility to move the collective consciousness forward and past this nonsense?
I want to do my part in promoting authenticity, truth, and vulnerability. I believe that our beautifully imperfect human bodies (and minds) deserve to be acknowledged and loved as they are. That doesn’t mean we can’t strive to improve ourselves. But, let’s make sure we understand that our worthiness as human beings doesn’t have anything to do with being any particular size, weight, race, gender, sexuality, or shape.
So, here are 10 things about me that I used to hate – 10 things I could easily continue to criticize, compare to others, hide etc. that I have instead chosen to not only love and accept, but to share and celebrate. Enjoy!
1. Long arms. My arms are disproportionately long and I used to be super self conscious about them. Now I celebrate the awkward gracefulness of them (as well as being able to reach things in really high places.)
2. Long fingers. I never knew what to do with my long alien fingers and used to hide my hands in pockets or behind my back. Now I let them dance and play as they wish. It doesn’t matter how they look.
3. Small breasts. My lack of boobs used to make me feel like slightly less of a woman and, admittedly I sometimes longed for a nice C-cup that might actually fill out a top. Now I cherish my (small and perky!) girls because they make me feel and move like more of an athlete.
4. Narrow hips. I used to hate that I couldn’t fill out a pair of shorts or jeans the way a curvy woman could. Now I embrace the fact that my curves are not in the traditional places. My curves, which I love, are my shoulders and my nice big ass!
5. Small head. Yup, I used to bemoan the small size of my head (in comparison to the rest of my body.) Now I simply identify with my spirit animal, the giraffe. Big strong body, long graceful neck, small head, warm eyes, feet planted firmly on the ground (the part of me that is practical) and head in the clouds (the part of me that is a visionary) and I rather like it.
6. Open bite. My malocclusion evolved as the result of a tongue thrusting tendency. It presents some functional challenges (I can’t bite through anything thin or flimsy) but mostly I was bothered by how it looks. Now I’ve let that go. There are much more important things to focus on.
7. My lisp. Didn’t know I have a lisp? Yup, I do. It’s subtle and comes and goes. I used to try in vain to hide it (which of course made it worse.) Now I just consider it part of what makes my particular speech patterns and voice unique and recognizable.
8. My shyness. It used to manifest itself in things like people pleasing, being quiet, avoiding conflict, and generally trying to fade into the background. It made me feel small and insignificant. Now I accept my shyness as a natural part of being an introvert and I’ve learned to work with it (e.g. by making sure I get lots of alone time to charge my batteries) instead of letting it control me. Now I know I can embrace being an introvert and still show up as the fierce, fun, loud, and powerful version of myself when I want to.
9. Melasma. This charming form of skin discoloration basically looks like you have dirt on your face. I know because people have quite literally tried to wipe it off. I’ve had it in varying degrees on and off for 10 years and it used to be the only thing I saw when I looked in the mirror, especially during the times when I had it on my upper lip. Now I just think of it as no biggie and a great reminder to wear sunscreen and hats.
10. My sports injuries. I used to compare myself to the runner I potentially could have been, had I never torn my ACL or developed achilles tendinitis. I’d get angry at my body for not being able to keep up with me and hampering my success. Now I do my best to accept my injuries and simply work from wherever I’m at each day. I savor the accomplishment I feel on a good day and humbly sit with the disappointment I feel on a bad day. I am grateful to be as able-bodied as I still am. If anything, my sports injuries have been a blessing in disguise. They’ve taught me to respect my limits and train smarter not just harder.
I am walking tall and proud, owning my imperfection, and I am calling on you to join me in choosing every day to model authenticity, truth, and vulnerability. Let’s lift each other up and celebrate what’s raw and real for the sake of both our own aliveness and our connections to each other.