No, seriously, am I pretty

Why are we so obsessed with how we look?

Self image is a scary, scary thing for many girls

I look really, really awful.

Not ‘I haven’t applied my lipstick’ awful, but full on Medusa level NO. My hair, that I forgot to relax last night, is stuck to the side of my head in tight curls and I have huge dark circles under my eyes. I am a human panda with a bad perm.

I fix it eventually with an intense contour, a hot blow dry and enough concealer to drown an elephant. Am I elephant shaped? I ask myself in the mirror. I’m definitely fatter. If I eat 300 calories a day again, will I look like my sister in a month? I stare at my thighs. Yep, definitely going to be a thin, natural beauty who never gets horrific Bronté style hair.

Someday.

Average for the lads

This has, ladies and gentleman, consumed the best part of an hour. I have, I confess, spent an HOUR staring at myself in the mirror, drawing on my face and trying on half my wardrobe.

The illusion of Madelaine Hanson is one built off nearly a decade of self scrutiny and make up skills. It’s fun, but admittedly completely and utterly vain.

Outside a man shouts at me from a van, beeps at me, and then I get forcibly stopped by a weird guy wearing a Workers Unite badge who wants my number.

None of this proves anything to me except for the fact we live in a society in which

a) A lot of guys are creepy af

b) Men are easily taken in by a Benefit mascara.

Absurdly, when men don’t notice me, I panic. I clearly must be a balloon who will someday be asked not to use escalators in case I cause a safety risk to those below.

What kind of shit feminism is that? I’m ashamed, tbh. Men don’t do it as a compliment! I tell myself sternly. They do it because they are desperate and weird. Catcalling is grim and I do not like it. Is it bad I’ve admitted that? Do I lose my strong independent woman status?

Selfie Selfie Selfie Repeat

My obsession with my appearance borders on the ridiculous. The other day (I never exist and tell, so all names are fake) I was told by my mate Oliver that a guy found me attractive on my profile. I was delighted by this and nearly fell off my chair.

Could it be, after the trauma of being the weird dark-haired freak of Year 9, I could finally accept I wasn’t a troll? Was I, dare I admit it, okay? When the poor oblivious fellow (let’s call him Dave) actually met me and didn’t respond to my very obvious attention, I was completely convinced I was actually an obese panda. That’s my logic. That’s my brain. He must just think I’m hideous IRL.

(Nothing to do with the fact I was behaving like an obsessive grinning witch to a man I had relatively little interest in)

All this has got me thinking. My insecurity is intruding so far into my self worth that it has taken over my self perception and relationships with other people. I’m more interested in how fat I am than how nice I am. That’s horrifying. And actually, I think a lot of women are the same.

We live in a world where we are surrounded by perfect, impossibly thin and beautiful women who cram themselves into our newsfeed, phones, adverts, films, books. If it was hard to be the prettiest girl in the village in 1817, it’s fucking impossible to be the prettiest girl on your instagram in 2017. This constant competition really skews our perception of normal.

I’m not an idiot. I know Barbie isn’t a realisitic body type, that Cheryl Cole has hair extensions, that Angelina Jolie has an army of beauticians. I can’t compete with the genes, money or resources those women have. I will always have to work with my weird nose, strange colouring and standard phenotype.

That doesn’t make me ugly, that makes me me. Normal is not ugly. When did it become so hard to say ‘I am normal’ and not mean it as a pejorative? Is that how hard it is to accept the fact you aren’t Helen of Troy these days?

I’m going to try to consciously unthink my value solely as my appearance. I might not be stunning but I have a lot going for me in other ways.

I’m reminded of a story told by Dustin Hoffman:

We have so much more to offer the world than contoured cheeks and flawless Kardashian figures, ladies.

If guys are going to ignore you because you aren’t pretty enough for them, do you really want them in your life?

P.S: Sorry, Dave.

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