Wednesday, October 12, 2016

If I could just look like someone else....

      When I was a teenager, my mom pulled out this old VHS tape for us to watch. On it was "Return of the Native" which is an absolutely heart-wrenching movie with a very young Catherine Zeta-Jones (pictured in all her glory above). This film made us both bawl our eyes out as we agonized over what decision her character was going to make. If you want to feel real-style depressed, I would heartily recommend it. 

      Anyhow, during one of the scenes, in which this actor looked particularly striking, my mom said something like, "I wish I looked exactly like that!". We actually discussed it afterward, over our balls of bunched up kleenex with our bloodshot, red-rimmed, puffy, estrogen-y eyes. I asked my mom, "Really, if you could change your face for her face and your body for her body and have EXACTLY that same thing, would you?"  It was a strange question. I think we all look at others and compare ourselves (human  nature) but I wonder if we actually would go through with swapping out all of the features? It is a compelling line of thought, if nothing else. In the end, my mom decided that she just wanted to stick with what she knew. 

Me and Leif, earlier this year. 
        The reason this came up in my brain is because we were discussing this at work yesterday, while sewing.  My sister said that there is a company that she really likes (I don't particularly want to say names here, but if I say that it's a popular plus-size company, you'll probably figure it out...so., it's Torrid.) that is doing a contest for their customers to pick their next model. They had 4 gals and they were letting their customers vote.  Now, obviously, this is a touchy subject, because this stuff seems to always hit a nerve on the internet. It's like our insecurities grow venom-dripping needle teeth and red glowing eyes and come out for the KILL!  Anyhow, this seemed to be what was happening on the internet. My sister said that comments came from a lot of frustrated women who exclaimed that the models still must be wearing some kind of amazing shapewear, because "plus size" doesn't stay the exact same shape, only slightly bigger. The women commenting  were wishing that their body types were represented.....without tons of touchups, without tons of post-production to make them look unlike the original reality. (This is funny to me, because I took a brief look at the campaign and felt like the company was doing a great job, and really liked all of the women. I couldn't possible vote for something like this, because I genuinely liked them all. I didn't feel offended, get pissed off, or want to wage war.)

       Remember that question, up at the top? If you could actually trade, feature for feature, with someone else, would you? I think that what is going on here, in the underlying, deeply buried, hot lava center is that we actually might truly love ourselves. We're just burying the radiant self-love under layers of deflection. When I see a woman say, "I wish my body were represented in the media" she doesn't need to go on to say "Because all these women are fake and air-brushed and they suck and make me feel like less than I am." .....Nobody can make you feel like less than you are except yourself and your own thoughts. You are saying that you wish your body were represented because you love yourself. If you truly hated yourself and thought you were a piece of crap failure, then you wouldn't want yourself to be...uh.."represented", would you? 

     Do you know what the other awesome, underlying thing here is? People are looking at other's bodies and demanding that "their own shape" be represented more, BUT nobody can represent you, because nobody else is you! The coolest thing that I've learned from my company is that every single woman really is a unique snowflake in their body shape! I will try the same "size" of corset on women that look drastically different, body-composition-wise, and it just delights me. It is FUN for me. I just love to see all of the variety of women out there. What an astoundingly beautiful, colorful, diverse pallet we have in this world! And guess what, friends? No company can "represent your body shape" because that company would have to photograph every single woman of all time in their clothing, including you! Since we are all that different, no company is ever going to be able to get it right. No matter who they use for a model, that person is not you, and will never be you.  ( I could go on to write a whole entire article about this very thing. It's crazy, because someone might "represent your shape" in a way that you deem worthy, but then your shape will change....because we all change, no matter what. Gasp!)

    Now, I get it....I do. You don't want to see so much photoshop retouching because that makes you see a lie and compare your reality with a lie. I used to spend a lot of time being angry about this. Do you know how much that anger helped me? Um....not a whole lot. Anger doesn't magically beget happiness. Bitterness doesn't give birth to satisfaction.  

    Do you know who can help to show the world your body shape, without a ton of photo-editing? You. Yes. That's right. You might be yelling at all the wrong people. And do you know what is interesting? If you take pictures of yourself, dressed up, looking gorgeous, and proudly post them, you will most likely have something happen.....someone is probably going to see you, roll their eyes, and say, "Yeah, it's great that she looks that way, all pretty and nicely shaped, but why doesn't someone show MY body type!!??"   If they want to be critical and point out your flaws, they will probably do that as well. You don't control their brain and their behavior (thank heavens) but you do control yours. And in this instance, you would be creating, and all they could do is destroy. (another blog post coming up on this subject.)

      The man above is so beautiful that he burns my eyeballs, but he has a truly beautiful story. You can read more about it here, in an interview with  him http://benaustinblog.com/interview-andy-hnilo-model-clay-sardines/  but, suffice it to say, he had a career in modeling and acting, and then got in a hit-and-run accident where TWO cars hit him, and his face was beaten up so badly that the doctor told him they were the worst facially injuries he had ever seen.  And guess what...this picture is freaking AFTER his accident!!  Andy is one of my heroes, and I listen to every interview with him that I can get my hands on, because I think he embodies what I am talking about here. He turned a "bad" situation around and made it into a company that helps people. (I'm a giddy fanatic of his products, especially since they involve rubbing strange kelp clay on your face and looking like a lagoon monster.)  You, too, can take a situation that has previously been causing you pain and use it as a launch-pad for your own good future. Nobody else can be you.

      I have been reading a lot about the idea that other people are "mirrors" of ourselves. (There is a fantastic article about it here, if you want to educate your marvelous brain more! http://www.thepowerofoneness.com/blog/what-we-see-in-others-is-a-reflection-of-ourselves/ ) and the most relieving thing that I have read lately is that when you see things you ADMIRE about other people, that is because there is a seed of the exact same thing in your own spirit. You literally would not be able to see that beautiful thing unless it was somewhere inside of you. This takes away the biting sting of comparison, and drops down the walls between us. When I think about things this way, it brings me peace and joy, because I noticed beauty and I was grateful for it, and then I went on to recognize that the beauty is in me as well. Nice.

     So, would you want to look exactly like someone else? I'm guessing the answer is "No". Do you want certain qualities that someone else seems to have? I'm guessing the answer is "Yes". Did you notice those qualities because they mirror you, in some way? Yes, Awesome. Now, get to it. Go out there and love yourself and love others. Appreciate yourself and appreciate others! That beauty will outshine ANY other physical beauty that could ever exist.


  1. Good for even your old mom to read. I can barely recall that conversation and didn't remember that we watched that movie together. I'm glad you remember what I did. One of us is writing it down somewhere. ;)

    1. Love you, Mom! You would be surprised and pleased to know all of the things that you said that stuck with me!!