Do you see the image above? Is it really portraying an unbiased message? Not really. In many cases the new trend is to focus on the fact that we have become culturally obsessed with skinny and slim, to the point that we say that curvy women are real women while skinny women are not. But is this true?
Last time I checked, the word “real” referred to something actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; it’s not something that is imagined or supposed. So this means that if you see a woman, man, dog, cat, lemonade stand, or even an earwig under the BBQ mat… it’s REAL! Unless of course you are on a hallucinogen and are imagining it being there.
In all seriousness, we are all real women and real men. “Real” isn’t any specific thing. So we don’t need to create campaigns and movements focused on showing what’s real. We simply need to accept that we are all different and culturally let go of the perceptions we place on what beauty is or isn’t.
Imagine for an instant that we suddenly went the other direction completely and now “real” means being curvy. How does the girl or woman who has a very skinny body type feel? The same thing goes for men. Many men hit the gym in an attempt to achieve the correct body weight, shape, and look in order to be considered muscular (and therefore attractive). But this is just another illusion — and having a decent background in kinesiology, I can tell you that some men, just like some women, have body types that simply don’t allow them to achieve the shape their egos desire.
The image above is from Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign. I’ll admit, they’ve done a decent job at representing a few different body types, but there are still some missing and they are still focusing on this as “real beauty.” The bodies are still clearly airbrushed to a degree, their hair is done and makeup on. And where are the skinny women? Or the women with small breasts, or large bellies? Or both? What about women with scars, or stretch marks, or differences in skin pigmentation? Are they not real too? Is this real beauty? You be the judge.
All of these concerns aside, I will admit that I don’t want the idea of removing what a “real woman” is to mean that all health concerns go out the window. The choice is always up to us individually how we want to look, eat, or be, but I don’t believe we are meant to be unhealthy, overindulging in food or drink (or anything else in life), and this goes for both genders. The bottom line is, in this moment, you can and deserve to love yourself for exactly who you are. Treat your body and your mind well with proper food and exercise, do things that contribute to good mental and spiritual health, and however you end up looking, that’s REAL.
Taking this a step further, if we want to truly go back to “real beauty,” this means going beyond the idea of needing makeup as well. Have fun with it, dress up, wear it from time to time, but does it have to be a daily thing? After all, why do only women wear it and not men? Who made that up? Ask yourself, “Can I leave the house without wearing makeup, perfecting my hair, and hiding my flaws?” Can your friends or new love interests see you without makeup? This applies to both men and women, as men can be just as self-conscious about their looks as women and I believe it’s important to simply embrace who you are.
So! Male or female, it doesn’t matter — let’s let go of the idea of “real” and instead accept ourselves for who we are. You will notice very quickly that the more acceptance and “confidence” you have within yourself about who you are completely, the less you or anyone else will even care about your physical appearance, because you are projecting an entirely new energy.
But wait, what about the whole idea that dressing up nice and making yourself look dashing will make you feel good about yourself? To this I ask, is that what it takes for us to feel good? Doesn’t the very fact that this is what makes us feel good reveal how we truly feel about ourselves and the importance we place on appearance? Once again, don’t get me wrong; I’m not vilifying dressing up or anything of that nature — enjoy it as you wish — I’m simply drawing attention to the fact that when it is a neutral act it comes from a space of acceptance within ourselves versus a feeling of self consciousness or a need to impress others.
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