I write about body image, learning to accept ‘flaws’ and how my relationship with makeup and weight has changed over time. I follow accounts that share photos embracing their curves, their acne, their stretch marks, their differences. All around me, I see people celebrating their bodies and their appearance. Growing up in a world that seemed to only value one type of beauty, this has been liberating for me to see and to join in with. Because of this, I feel like my self confidence has never been better.
However, recently a friend sent me a link and asked my thoughts on it. In the post, someone was calling for a change in what we post. They argued that by focusing so heavily on reclaiming our ‘flaws’, we are actually reiterating the concept of flaws and focusing on the idea of the exterior as what is important. Whilst our current posting habits offer us a more positive way of judging ourselves, they argued that really it was just a different form of image obsession.
It got me thinking about how our relationship with who we are on the inside is just as complex as our relationship with our appearance and how really we should celebrate ourself inside and out.
Sometimes I actually think it’s easier to celebrate your exterior than your interior. We all know how hard it can be to write your CV and list the things you’re good at. I find myself downplaying my strengths and choosing words that don’t make me sound too ‘good’ for fear of sounding like I am showing off. I know I can do certain things and do them well, but saying that out loud makes me hesitate. Yet I can tell you that I have taken ownership of my birthmark without a problem.
I also find it hard to admit my personality flaws. I can say I have spots and cellulite, but to say that I sometimes struggle with new social situations or am overly critical about myself or that sometimes I feel irrationally upset is nowhere near as easy. Somehow those flaws seem more personal than the exterior ones.
I think that this acknowledgement and move away from focusing solely on our looks is starting to become more of a ‘trend’ online. I have seen the term ‘body neutral’ becoming more popular, with people choosing to focus on celebrating their personality or what their bodies allow them to do rather than what it looks like. People seem to no longer aspire to be people who are ‘beautiful’ – people want personality, brains, humour. People want to know the person, not just look at them.
When it comes to sharing online, I say post what you want to post. I love seeing people celebrate themselves however they wish to. In a world where the beauty industry is worth billions, it’s important that we remind ourselves and each other that the stereotype of beauty isn’t the only way to be. I think it’s empowering to reclaim your ‘flaws’ and parts of yourself that you have been told are ‘ugly’.
But at the same time, I think we need to stop and take note of all we are that isn’t external. I think we need to be able to hold our head high and be proud of the person we are inside. I think we need to be able to say ‘I am kind, I am good at this, I am a top friend’ without feeling like we are bragging.
So here I am, Jess Kitching. I am a writer, one that is getting better and better every day. I am impatient. I can be selfish and hellishly stubborn. I am also a fiercely loyal friend. My sense of right and wrong is strong. I have been hurt many times and I have hurt other people too. I care, sometimes too much. I am quietly ambitious and not afraid to say that where I am right now is exactly where I have worked for years to be. Nice to meet you. Who are you?
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