Salvador Dalí once said, “Have no fear of perfection – you'll never reach it.”
And yet when it comes to beauty, you’re being sold an idea of beauty which is intentionally, and overwhelmingly, unattainable. Supermodels and celebrities adorn skin care advertisements, the front covers of magazines and Instagram feeds with images of perfect complexions, perfect bodies and perfect lives.
You know it’s not ‘real’, but a part of you craves it. You can’t look away. How many times do you think, ‘she looks stunning’ before immediately feeling that twinge of never matching up?
Even though you know better, there’s something about that image of perfection that eats away at you. If this is the benchmark, how flawed must you be?
You’re not as flawed as you think.
That’s because she’s having the same thought. That perfect ‘image’ you see in the advertisements, and on the magazine covers and social media feeds doesn’t look anything like the real woman underneath.
The price of perfection
You know about the magic of Photoshop – it whittles away wrinkles and airbrushes away acne.
But before any of that even happens, these supermodels and celebrities have a whole team of people whose full-time job is to make them look amazing. Think: hair stylists, makeup artists, specially chosen lighting experts, preferred photographers and highly paid fashion stylists.
The average photo shoot can take months of planning, hours to set up and requires the expertise of multiple professionals.
Hundreds of shots are taken in dozens of different poses, ready for a team to pore over in post-production. And that’s where the photoshopping takes place. Flattering filters are added, unflattering blemishes are skillfully retouched, and faces are painted and shaded to complement what is being sold.
What you’re left with is an image that bears very little resemblance to the real human being.
You don’t need to feel undue sympathy for the supermodels and celebrities of this world.
But can you imagine what it would be like to see this airbrushed version of yourself and know that you don’t really look like that?
Can you imagine dealing with the weight of expectation to always look that good?
And can you imagine being harshly judged or criticised when your looks deviate, even ever so slightly, from that perception?
Supermodels & you – the surprising similarities
When ‘she’ doesn’t have time to spend hours on her appearance, you’ll find she’s an ordinary woman just like you. You’re not so different from one another.
The fact is that you’re both subject to the same unrealistic expectations of beauty.
You’re both not immune to feeling insecure about your appearance.
You’re both constantly being assessed and found wanting.
Whether it’s an expensive new fashion trend or an invasive new surgery – there’s always something ‘wrong’ with you that needs to be fixed before you can call yourself beautiful.
It’s so easy to identify yourself through your beauty. That identification is perpetuated and fortified daily through the circulation of arbitrary beauty standards which encourage you to focus on the external as a means of feeling valued and valuable.
Regardless of where you are on the celebrity spectrum, you are sensitive to your beauty and appearance – this is unavoidable and part of what makes you human.
On the surface, your sensitivity may be mistaken for narcissism, egotism or lack of self-esteem. But underneath, it relates to so much more than that. It’s about your desire for a connection; for engagement, love, unity and belonging – the core human needs that we all share. These are the needs that connect you to the larger human experience.
It’s OK to want to feel special, admired and liked.
It’s OK to feel fragile, vulnerable and precious in the process.
It’s not OK to constantly strive towards an unrealistic ideal. By doing so, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Your invitation: Define your own beauty
Your beauty is unique to you, and it’s the sort of beauty that shines from within. When you’re healthy, happy, confident, radiant and calm, other people will gravitate towards you. They will see something in you that they wish they had. They will call this ‘something’ beautiful.
Beauty is a curious thing. It comes in many different shapes, sizes, colours and styles. Beauty is natural, inspirational and is absolutely everywhere.
Beauty is not always going to look the same. You are not always going to look the same.
Instead, dictate beauty on your own terms, whatever that may be. Celebrate your natural splendour and the splendour of others.
So the next time you catch yourself wishing you had what she has, know this:
You already have it.
You always did.