Angela from Tracing Rainbows has written a post that's prompted me to write something too - thanks Angela! Her post is entitled 'You're Beautiful' and is about perceptions of beauty - how the world in general sees us (women) and how we see ourselves.
For many years I was a personal secretary to a building surveyor, we had clients come into the office so I had to be presentable all the time - that meant dressing smartly, having neat hair and nails and wearing makeup. Which is so not me - even as a teenager, I was never particularly bothered about plastering on the makeup to go out, although I did always wear some (mascara and occasionally eyeshadow and blusher), as it was kind of expected, I felt like I was letting my girlfriends down if I didn't make an effort.
Once we moved down here to the country, that was it, I just stopped wearing makeup altogether. Our neighbouring cows and sheep don't care what you look like, and it turns out people don't much either! I have very occasionally been asked if I'm tired (usually because I am and it shows on my face!), but nobody's ever asked why I'm not wearing any eyeshadow or lipstick. Do they even notice? I guess some, mostly young, women would. Men, by and large, wouldn't. So presumably wearing makeup is something we ourselves feel obliged to do, mainly because the media, magazines, beauty editors, beauty counter assistants etc etc make us feel that it's our duty to present a good image, and that means a full face of slap. Well, bollocks to that (sorry, that was my lovely Mum's favourite word and it makes me smile every time I use it 😁). I'm not one for being told what to do, I make my own mind (and not my face!!) up.
The other thing that women are concerned about is our bodies. All women, even supermodels, have bits of their bodies they don't like, we all look in the mirror at our bodies and see things we dislike, whereas others might not even notice. But we know they're there, and again our fears and perceptions are fuelled by what society sees as a woman's ideal body - size 10, but with curves in all the right places. But the curvy bits must be firm, but soft and rounded at the same time! And the pressure on women to get back to an 'acceptable' size 3 weeks after having a baby is utterly ridiculous, made so much worse by all these minor celebs flaunting their flat stomachs in a bikini when they've only just had their baby a few weeks previously. And what's with Liz Hurley? She's always bombarding the papers with photos of her in her latest bikini - does she not actually own any clothes? So she's getting on a bit (erm, somewhere in her 50s I think) - well bully for her, she's got pots of money and no real purpose in life so needs to do something to while away her time, I suppose.
But then if I had a figure like hers, maybe I'd want to show it off too. My figure, however, is nowhere near hers, I'd make two of her. My consultant last week said that I was 'carrying a little bit of weight' - very good of him a) to be so understated about it!, and b) to point out something I'm already very well aware of. My body image tends to fluctuate - I'm under no illusions about all my wobbly bits (very wobbly in some areas) and I'm well practised at wearing things that disguise them quite well. So most of the time I feel....well, not at ease with my body, I'm never that, but alright about it. But when I'm feeling low, I hate my body. And there's definitely more of my wobbly bits following a year of lockdown. Funnily enough, I read something in the paper this morning about women's fears about their bodies when in bed with a man - we tend to be very self conscious about all our 'problem' areas - what WE see as problem areas, that is. Whereas a man just thinks 'Wow, I'm in bed with a naked woman!!'.
I guess what I'm trying to say, in my usual long winded way, is that we really ought to stop feeling pressured to conform to society's ideal of what our bodies or our faces should look like, and just be ourselves. Easier said than done though, when it's been ingrained in us for decades (well, centuries).