With the TV and magazine industry as popular as ever, and a hearty increase in social media stats, we live amidst a complicated visual culture; our coffee tables are laden with magazine images of beautiful people, our Twitter feeds are getting clogged up with half naked snaps of the fame hungry, and even here, within the blogosphere, hundreds of beauty related images pop up on our dashboards every week. Yup, the widespread social conversation about body confidence is one that remains vibrant amongst us all, and I'm pretty sure that every one of you who reads this blog post will have suffered, or will be suffering from body hang ups/insecurities.
I'm certainly no stranger to body confidence issues. Whilst I've made it my mission to become my own best chum and focus on the things that I like about myself, my insecurities have the occasional habit of being feisty little bastards. There have been times where I've described myself as a human dinosaur and vowed that no man will ever fancy me again. There have even been times where I've not wanted to leave the house because I've felt so bloody monstrous, and I know I'm not the only person who has ever had this problem. Awkward face.
It's absolutely ridiculous that so many of us have compromised on enjoying our day to day lives due to this inherent, fucked up ideology that we don't look 'right'. How many times have you cancelled on a night out, or felt uncomfortable in a bar, because you couldn't achieve the 'look' you were going for? How many times have you felt on par with a flea infested Rottweiler just because your hair decided to throw a party on your scalp or you woke up with a blemish on your chin?
When talking about body confidence issues, many of us are quick to blame the magazine industry. After all, cover shoot after cover shoot, feature after feature, image manipulation plays a crucial role in the editorial production of these publications. And yes, I do agree that the magazine industry is partly responsible for the body confidence crisis that many of us face. We are, after all, bombarded with heavily enhanced visuals of a world where facial features are immaculate, blemishes don't exist, and any woman beyond a size eight may as well be an alien. (Curves?! WOAH. What the devil are they?)
We also have a terrible habit of playing the comparison game, forensically examining the way that others look, trying to establish where we fit on these inbuilt 'hideous beast' to 'SEX-aaaaaaaaay' scales. We all have those friends who we deem to be 'slimmer', 'sexier' and 'more beautiful' than us. Every now and again, we find ourselves wishing we could wake up and look like that, convinced that if we did we'd fall in love with our own reflection and live happily ever after. Nope; the truth is folks, we'd spend 24 hours prancing around feeling like the sexiest organism to ever grace the planet, and then we'd just invent a new problem and find something else to be insecure about. That, my friends, is what we call human nature.
Absolute contentment with the way we look is a luxury that the majority of us will never acquire. The desire to look better and be better has become so intrinsic to human life that we're practically carrying it around as an extra limb. I for one can easily admit that the beauty-related habits I've developed are not going to change any time soon. I'm not going to suddenly house a forest in my nether-regions, or sprout a monobrow, or never again coat my lashes with an overpriced mascara, because the reality (the sad reality, perhaps), is that I do feel a lot better about myself when I'm a little preened. I am however, on a mission to make a healthy shift in attitude, and I think, that if this blog post is ringing a few bells with you, that you should probably join me.
You see, people of this world, the pertinent problem is not that the magazine industry manipulate and enhance their images; the problem is the way in which we consume these images. Instead of drooling over the pages, cursing ourselves for falling out of the ugly tree, we need to be critically aware that although beautiful, these images are not a fair depiction of reality. Welcome to the cruelty of advertising; nobody looks like that in the flesh, those pictures are there to sell.
The problem is not that we look at other women and think that they're beautiful; the problem is that we assume that we're not because we don't look like them. The problem is that we are a magnifying glass to our own insecurities. I often refer to my planet-sized love handles, but I'm pretty sure that nobody has ever actually looked at me and thought 'fuuuuuuuck, I've discovered a new planet!! Oh wait, it's just Kathy B and her excess waistline fat.'
And who said beauty was all about physicalities, anyway? So you don't have a radiant smile, or a nipped in waist, or buoyant breasts? The chances are that you sure as hell make up for it elsewhere. You might have a cracking sense of humour, or a heart of the finest gold, or an insane talent. You might be the loveliest person in the entire world. Our inner qualities really are the parts of us that matter the most, and though it may all sound a tad cliche, once we've got those sussed, we're pretty sorted.
I shall round this up with a wise ol' fact that you may pass onto your future Grandchildren; buoyant breasts alone do not change the world*. Remember that, you fine bunch.
*despite what a geezer/LAD may try to tell you whilst attempting to dry hump you in a bar.