The beauty dilemma.

I’ve been thinking for a while about the wickedness of labels. Ok, they keep a categorized society in an informative way, like the sign “Students” at the museum’s entrance or the offers for retired people hanging at the travel agency window. And yes, they also serve to warn about smaller groups, like celiacs or disabled. But if you think about it, the use of tags tend to be disrespectful in everyday’s conversations. Like the evil twist given to the word «feminist» these days. A few months ago I read something pretty clever by Maisie Williams:

“ I feel like we should stop calling feminists “feminists” and just start calling people who aren’t feminist “sexist”; and then everyone else is just a human. You are either a normal person or a sexist. People get a label when they’re bad.”

She was talking about the misinterpretation of feminism, but in the end the same logic may apply to every kind of label.

The pursuit of who we are often leads us to fall into the comfort zone of labels, because it can be liberating at first. The fact that I understand what “introverted” means, gives me a sense of control about why do I behave as I do. However, it also ends up making me feel locked up on the idea that I’m what my label says about me and nothing else.

Don’t even mention the issue with sizes and its double standard. It works like this: if you’re thin, it means that everything in your life is in your favor (from getting a job to having a boyfriend). However, if you’re fat, it’s probably because you don’t love yourself enough to see the potential within yourself and how better you could be. So, thin people: stop enjoying chocolate, just in case you get fat. And fat people: stop eating chocolate, otherwise you’ll never be fit. Me, every woman alive and Katie Springsteen are so fed up with this conversation:

“I hate when people say overweight girls look like “real women” as if we need some sort of consultation prize for not being skinny, while implying that skinny girls aren’t actual women. You know what makes you a “real woman”? Possessing a vagina and/or identifying as a female. Body type has nothing to do with it so please shut the fuck up.”

So I’m getting to a point here: labelling is a huge disservice to all of us. It may seem like a trivial dilemma, perhaps, but a painful one nevertheless. I’ll take myself as an example.

My labels.

I made the effort to look back and collect all the tags I’ve heard about me and made me feel self-conscious at some point in my life. Spoiler alert: there are way more physical adjectives because people just needed two eyes to find a tag. I can picture at least one person telling me these things:

Physical labels:

- Pesky cowlicks
- Hair too straight
- No volume hair
- Hair too thin
- Hair too dark
- Hair too light
- Side hair loss
- Too much hair
- Too much muscle in my thighs
- Too much cellulite on my thighs
- Fat bottom
- Feet too big
- Feet too small
- Skin too fair
- Veins showing too much
- Too thin
- Back too wide
- Arms too thin
- Boobs too small
- Boobs too big
- Ugly face (because of glasses)
- Too tall
- Pores too wide
- Hairy arms
- Hairy fingers
- Bony fingers
- Neck too long
- Tiny ears
- Bulging eyes

Personality labels:

- Tomboy
- Too sexy
- Too smart
- Too lazy
- Too distracted
- Too quiet
- Too shy
- Too much character
- Too sad
- Too optimistic
- Too analytical
- Too sensitive

Not all of them were said negatively. And those which were, not always were told as an insult. In fact, some of them came from people close to me (I guess you never know how far some words can go).

If you love patterns as much as I do, you may have noticed that labels go in pairs: one says a thing and the following says the opposite. I’m sure that if you do the same exercise, you would get almost the same. When we’re growing up, we’re exposed to all kinds of reviews that build up a distorted mirror, and it takes a lot of years to find out the right angle to see ourselves in the reflection. This is how we all develop insecurities, but mostly women because we’re taught to judge each other based on physical appearance (go and tell Beyonce’s daughter).

Like many of you, I was also a two-faced hypocrite because at some point in my life I’ve also criticized another woman by her look. The main problem to me is that beauty canon doesn’t fit 90% of people (never better said), so they’re constantly pushed to keep trying to fit in. Meanwhile the other 10% are also pressured to maintain their privileges because they didn’t make any effort to get them in the first place. And that’s not only unfair, but also unnatural. Read what Dr. Linda Bacon says:

“Fat isn’t the problem. Dieting is the problem. A society that rejects anyone whose body shape or size doesn’t match an impossible ideal is the problem. A medical establishment that equates ‘thin’ with ‘healthy’ is the problem.”

I’m going to keep talking about me. I’ve always been thin, mostly because of genetics but also because from 3 to 20 I never stopped doing competitive sports. During my first 16 years, I went to McDonalds only once. It’s obvious that everything adds up, but I find myself constantly justifying something that is 90% genetic and 10% living off my healthy habits. And not only regarding other people, but also to myself.

The last time I harshly judged myself happened 6 weeks ago. I was shopping at H&M online looking for jeans. I was looking for the ones I use to buy, but I found a new model I was willing to try (there’s no many options for my size). I was happy, I ordered the same size like always and a few days later the package arrived and they didn’t fit. My first thought was: “Shit, you’ve gained so much weight! And you just came back from a 3 week trip walking 20km per day, you fatty!”. The blame, because nobody should be slim if they don’t earn it. The self-criticism session only lasted for one minute until I realized that I hadn’t gotten fat since all my wardrobe still fitted me, so H&M should have changed the sizing. But can you realize it? I had to find a proper defense, otherwise they had won. We are trained to blame ourselves by default when we don’t meet expectations (a 28x34 in my case).

The final thought.

Don’t hinder yourself. There are so many things that can go wrong in your life and that you won’t be able to control. The less you bother yourself, the more you’ll trust in your instincts and be prepared for whatever happens.

So don’t fuck yourself: you won’t like to be living with people who are constantly reminding all your weaknesses. And that includes your own company, so don’t be one of those suckers.

Article 04. I’m writing a series of articles every two weeks about my point of view on life, love and design (mainly to practice my English skills). I’m writing this down just in case I forget, because I tend to leave projects halfw

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