Dove initiated a beautiful cause when it launched its Real Beauty Campaign. Its latest video titled Selfie focuses on tween girls and their mothers, and how selfies can be used to show raw beauty instead of hiding imperfections. This video inspired thousands of other girls to take these #realselfies of themselves and actually post them to the world- no make up, natural hair, all the very real things girls have to deal with. But instead of hiding them, these pictures embraced them.
This national movement to decrease the use of Photoshop in magazines and advertisements is a fantastic idea. It shows that women are more than just highly decorated beings that are supposed to look pretty. It shows that women have more worth, and we’re no longer all about covering up the things that make us us.
Now, I embrace this campaign full heartedly. I think it’s really important for young girls (really women of any age) to learn the importance of your real self versus the self you impart into the world. But (…I’m sure you knew there was a but coming here because don’t I always have an idea that contrasts my original statement? The answer is yes.) But, we’re still focusing on outward beauty.
We are showing the beauty of women without make up, hair products, or editing, but the focus is still on the skin. I would 85% more rather be known for my thoughts than by my #realselfie.
What if we put our raw, original, unedited thoughts about ourselves on paper instead? Instead of just showing the physical characteristics we don’t like about ourselves, we would write out not just the physical, but the mental qualities, the character flaws that we find within ourselves.
I can be pretty vain and conceited sometimes, and I’m not afraid to say it. Saying it or writing it makes it real, it’s no longer only in your head, and it can motivate you to change it if you don’t like it as much. Or you don’t have to change it if you don’t want to, it’s your head. Your thoughts.
Instead of my #realselfie, I want to share with you my #realstory. My imperfections put down on paper. It’s tough to force yourself to do this; if you only think about things, you can ignore them, push them away in your mind. Writing them down allows you to come back to them in the future and realize, “Wow. This is how I felt about this?” It’s an interesting perspective. Just as a face changes over time, so do thoughts.
My #realstory isn’t a fairytale, and it isn’t in a good place right now. Maybe that’s why I’m so scared to share it, more scared than having to share a #realselfie. But I hope that you will write your own #realstory, and continue to do that.
So here is my #realstory. I’m not proud of it, I’m not yet who I want to be. But if middle school girls are willing to show their #realselfies to the world, then this college student should be able to share her real thoughts with the world too. #courage.
I am but a shell of my former self.
I pretend every day, pretend that I can be something completely different than what I stood for a couple years ago. I never envisioned I would become like this, I thought I would stay training and in a good physical shape forever. I’m a five foot five, brown haired, acne scarred, 19 year old person, full of false conceit of herself and false love of her life. I fill my life with things that make me incandescently (read: short term) happy to fill the unbearable emptiness felt for things that can no longer happen. I fill my life with gilded expectations and fake hope for my future. I plan everything out in order to make sure I don’t make another big life mistake like I’ve made in the past. I believe regret is not fair to have to live with. I know I’m not the only one who struggles with this, these missed chances and expectations that didn’t happen.. But it’s so hard to get over that. I struggle with it every day. I force myself to be busy in order to not feel it all the time. To be 19 and to think that you’ve already wasted your life is a terrible thing to have to feel.
I try to hide all these thoughts daily so I don’t crumble, so I’m not seen as weak. I don’t want to be weak, I have a strong desire to be a queen, a ruler, so no one will ever see me as weak or incapable of anything ever again. All of this stems from my lack of success a couple years ago. I call it a lack of success because I didn’t do what I wanted to do- I gave up. And now, with years behind me where I can look back and see what I could have done, I wish I could go back and prove to myself that I could have done it. It’s a heavy burden to feel, and one that I hate to admit. I’m terrified of being inadequate, so I make myself do all these other things to make sure that I’m successful at at least one thing.
I want to be home, where I was at the highlight of my life, but then I push that thought away and envision someone else somewhere more magical and elusive, a picture that I think would be perfect to be in..but I don’t know if it’s for me, or if it’s me that really want to be there.
So, this is who I am: an overzealous and fake human being, no longer a girl and not quite a woman, a hardworking and busy individual to make up for lost time, a scared of the future and nostalgic for the past female, who cries almost every night for the things that aren’t to be. And I want to be able to say that I accept myself, that I’m 100% confident with the person I am, but I’m not. I’m working on it. And I think I will always be working on it.
But, I’m reminded that this isn’t all I am. I wrote everything before now a day ago, in a very emotional time. I sent it to my mom to look it over and see if it was all right for me to post it. She wasn’t certain that I should share this part of me with the world…which got me thinking. If we can’t share the horrible times and thoughts with the world, then what kind of community do we live in? I don’t want to have to hide any part of me. That’s what real beauty is. That’s what accepting beauty is. Accepting others despite their tear stained nights and mental breakdowns, tormented by the silliest and most heartbreaking of things. Accepting others even though their past experiences aren’t as wholesome as yours.
So yes. I have all of those faults I listed above. That may not be all of me, but that is all that I feel at some point in time. Other times I feel unbreakable and confident and sure of myself (I call it my “I’m gonna rule your kingdom” attitude). Other times I find myself blissfully content to watch a movie with friends or eat a chocolate croissant by myself. I just can’t reiterate this enough: I am not alone in how I feel during those nights and I refuse to be judged by how I am.
And I know I’m not the only one who has felt this before.
So here: this #realstory is only real if you choose to face it. My idea is that we shouldn’t have to face it alone. So please, share your #realstory with the internet. Mine is up here, for anybody to see. It frightens me, but also reassures me and gives me hope that someone will read it who needs to see that if I’m surviving my own mind, you can too.
P.S. My #realstory is vague because I don’t want to disclose personal details too much. If you do write your own #realstory, comment with a link to it and I will read it and most likely love you.