Stop Tearing Yourself Apart: Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part series. If you missed Part 1, check it out here. Today, Goodwin finishes up her discussion on impossibly destructive beauty standards. Get ready for frank observations about her experience in the dating world, as well as considerations for the old maxims of “when you look good you feel good”, and “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

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By: Cassie Goodwin

Let me put my “person who likes the ladies” hat on, and tell you what those of us who like looking at women DO notice. There was a girl a little while ago that I had a brief crush on, but we’ve since lost touch. She was pretty big – in fact, at first I felt she might be a little too big for my taste. I know, fat girl throwing stones, but it is what it is. However, once I started talking to her, other things overwhelmed that initial impression. She had a habit of saying, “Gee, whillikers!” and “Jimminy Cricket!” in all seriousness, and looking perplexed when I laughed my arse off. She had enormous bright blue eyes, that could look entirely innocent or deeply wicked depending on her mood. She wore gorgeous fifties style dresses with big swishy skirts, and was delightfully and unashamedly femme. She also had quite…er…bountiful breasts. Apart from those particular fat deposits, I couldn’t tell you where else she was carrying weight specifically. I could sketch her overall shape for you, but I don’t recall ever specifically noticing if her arms wobbled when she waved them around at all.

As I said, we have now lost touch, by which I mean I stopped calling her. And you know what? It was nothing to do with her weight, nothing to do with her possibly flabby arms, nothing to do with how much weight she may or may not have been carrying on her belly. She was just…boring. By our third date I realised we had very little to talk about, because she was actually rather dull. So I stopped calling her.

Now it would be pretty hypocritical of me to say that appearance doesn’t matter at all. I write a beauty blog after all, and all the products I’ve discussed and reviewed over there are designed to make you more visually appealing. What I am saying is that these products are only any good if they make you feel better about yourself. I know I FEEL prettier with a nice nail polish on, and mascara, and a nice subtle lipstick. It’s how I FEEL about myself that people notice. They might notice that I’m wearing a new lipstick, but they’ll notice it because my confidence gained by feeling pretty makes them look. If I walk into the office wearing a new lipstick and a black mood, the mood is what people notice.

Arm cinchers, butt squeezers, and body contorters might make some people feel good temporarily, but they don’t enhance your body – they disguise it. Which means you end up stressing about what happens when the disguise comes off. Remember that scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary when she takes the guy home, but she’s wearing her big grannie panties, and she gets all embarrassed? For Jones, it ends up working out okay, despite her worries. In fact, I would be willing to bet money that Hugh Grant would have still gone home with her even if her stomach wasn’t squeezed right in. I bet if tested, he wouldn’t be able to tell the damn difference between the squeezing knickers, and sexy ones from the outside. I know my boyfriend can’t.

The last thing women need is another thing to be paranoid about. We’re already supposed to be stressing about our wrinkles, and our pubic hair (or lack thereof), how perky our breasts look, and we’re supposed to add panicking about getting naked because we’ve been walking around in a skinny person suit on top of that?

Screw all of that.

You are not your oily cuticles. You are not your visible pores. You are not that wobbly bit of flesh just under your belly button that never goes away no matter how many crunches you do. You are not your fuzzy upper lip. You are not your dry cracked heels.

You are a whole person. Your skin, your flesh, your hair, your mind and heart – a melding of all these things is what people really see. So forget the spandex, and read a book instead.

Cassie is a thirty something Australian with an enormously chequered past, who can be found spouting her endless opinions all over the internet. Her opinions are largely confined to The Reluctant Femme at present, but if you feel like you need a constant stream of it, she can also be found on Twitter (@anwyn)

Stop Tearing Yourself Apart: Part 1

By: Cassie Goodwin

An article about the newest thing in beauty must-have’s came drifting through my Twitter feed the other day, and you’ll never guess what it is. It’s spanx for your arms. No, seriously. A super tight shirt that squeezes your “bingo wings” so tight they don’t move. This kind of thing makes me so angry, and is such a ridiculous invention I just can’t pass without comment. This dissection, examination, and judgement of women’s bodies drives me mental – it’s destructive, ridiculous, and it really has to stop.

The list of individual body parts women are supposed to feel bad about is extraordinary, and it is only getting longer. Cellulite, wrinkles, visible pores, wobbly arms, back fat, hand fat, eye bags, grey hair…good grief, can we at least have a second to get over the last bout of paranoia before more gets piled on?

And you know what the absolute WORST thing about it all is? No one really notices any of these “flaws” on a day to day basis in the people around them. I know I have certainly never in my life looked at someone and thought, “My, she has some mighty visible pores.”

This practice of dissection from the whole, and resulting paranoia, is so deeply entrenched in any conversation about women’s bodies that I have even come across it in nail blogging. NAIL BLOGGING. The whole appeal to me of nail blogs is that no-one gives a damn if you’re “pretty” or “fat” or black or brown or young or old. If you have something shiny on your nails, that’s all you need to get attention. But even here, in what I would consider the most egalitarian, accepting part of the beauty blogosphere, I came across a poor girl apologising for her cuticles being too oily.

No-one loves oily Homer.

What. The. Hell.

I just..I wanted to hug her so badly. I wanted to tell her that her cuticles don’t matter in the slightest, and that whoever had made her feel so insecure that she was concerned the oiliness of them  should die in a fire. This is total BS, and it has to stop. It makes me so angry because this practice of breaking a woman down into her component parts makes it almost impossible to avoid entirely. Even if you don’t have back fat, oily cuticles, pimples, or whatever the flaw de jour is, you’re guaranteed to have SOMETHING that’s considered unacceptable.

No matter how happy you are with your overall appearance, there is always something that these media outlets and manufacturers can pick out and convince you that you should feel bad about. They just keep throwing these ridiculous paranoia magnets at you over and over again until something sticks, and then they can use it to pry open your wallet while cracking open your self esteem. It’s totally, and utterly messed up.

Of course, it’s easy for me to dismiss things like visible pores and oily cuticles as ridiculous things to worry about, because I think just about everyone actually knows deep down that no-one will actually notice them unless they are pointed out. Our vicious little paranoia gremlins can tell us otherwise, but I think we all actually KNOW what is true, and what is just nonsense. However, the ridiculous arm corset in that article I saw is all about addressing the biggest feminine taboo next to wrinkles – fat.

One thing I will say about being fat, curvy, overweight, whatever you want to call it – people do notice. But they will do so in spite of how much money you choose to spend on arm corsets. If you are bigger than the “ideal” size six, all the spandex in the world will not change that. It might squeeze it all in, and make you look a little bit smaller, but spandex alone cannot make a size 16 woman a size 6.

Moreover, no-one actually notices the individual deposits of fat on a woman, no matter her size, unless it’s her breasts. No-one has ever looked at a woman, and decided not to take them home solely on the basis of being able to see a little back fat rolling over their bra. No-one has ever looked at a woman and thought, “Damn, she’s cute. Oh, no, she’s got cellulite. That’s that then.”

(I suppose, conceivably, there might be some incredibly judgmental, shallow assholes out there who MIGHT think these things, but lord, who would want to go home with them anyway? You know they would just be looking at themselves in the mirror the whole time…)

This has been Part 1 of Stop Tearing Yourself Apart. Stay tuned for the second and final part of this electrifying series, to be posted next week!

Cassie is a thirty something Australian with an enormously chequered past, who can be found spouting her endless opinions all over the internet. Her opinions are largely confined to The Reluctant Femme at present, but if you feel like you need a constant stream of it, she can also be found on Twitter (@anwyn)

 

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