If We Base Our Self-Worth On What’s Trendy, We Will Never Be Content
Can we just talk about how impossible it is to keep up with trends in 2020? Everything moves at breakneck speed, and literally anything can be in or out. One of my friends has a teenager who has recently informed me that it is possible for me to carry a trendy water bottle. I suppose that means I can inadvertently carry a dorky, out of style water bottle, too? I had no idea.
Every single decision we make has the potential to make us a cutting-edge fashionista-in-the-know or an out-of-touch, lost cause mom without a clue.
I think most of us beyond high school are able to laugh that off. Unless you’re a celebrity whose entire life is scrutinized beyond belief, and you become a walking billboard for everything you touch, you get to leave some of the comparison behind as you grow. Age brings the ability to like what you like, be your own person, and do what feels right to you.
But ignoring the pressure isn’t always so easy. Trends don’t only affect things like clothes, accessories and hairstyles. Body types and facial features get caught up in this bonkers game of “in or out.” It’s a little harder to shrug off an “out of style” face than it is to get caught in a pair of last season’s shoes.
Did you know freckle pens existed? I didn’t until I saw a video a few months ago of a girl attempting to make herself look naturally freckly. I thought to myself, “What did I miss?”
My mom spent her summers under giant hats trying to avoid freckles at all costs. I personally have a pretty decent number of freckles that I have never been self-conscious about, but I didn’t foresee them becoming a trend, either. Freckle pens, freckle tattoos; I never thought I’d live to see the day.
I’m coming to you as a person who has done a lot of intentional self-reflection and hard work come to place where I am at peace with my body, regardless of the way it looks. I am begging you to do whatever it takes to discover the perfection that already exists in you, and to stop chasing whatever current trend tells you that you’re not enough.
In my lifetime, my body type has never been trendy. I’m short, fat, and carry a lot of my weight in my tummy. I’ve been some level of fat my whole life. I’m used to being outside the fashion ideal.
I was a chubby middle-schooler in the mid-90s. While I was discovering the idea that some bodies were considered “sexy” and some bodies were, well, mine, Kate Moss was one of the most famous models of the day. Her ultra-thin frame was the height of fashion.
By the time I was in high school, I remember wishing I had a sportier frame, one that would look cute in a sports bra and baggy sweats, like upcoming superstar of the day, Britney Spears.
Over the years, the trendy, desirable body has continued to change. Curves made a comeback. As a fat woman, I appreciate how much more plus-size representation I get to see in movies, TV and on social media, even if my kind of body isn’t often reflected in a positive way.
The thing is, I’ve always been so far outside the ideal that even striving for it was not a realistic goal for me. It’s been hard, but in some ways, I think it’s also provided me with a little bit of freedom. I’ve never been “just ten pounds away.” My body has never had that one imperfection that keeps me from being just right.
While other women can isolate what they consider their “problem areas,” I have lived in a body that is considered all wrong. Top to bottom. I have not pined away for a boob job, a little liposuction, or the willpower to just lose a few pounds so I’d look perfect in a bikini.
You know how coming in second is sometimes harder than being dead last?
I’ve always felt like I’m dead last. That has come with sometimes unbearable pain. But I think it’s also made it a little easier for me to exclude myself from the rat race.
I feel for people who are always just barely outside the trendy ideal. You are just as much victims of diet culture as fat people. The trendsetters make sure you feel that you are always just a dollar short or a day late. You spend a lot of money and time trying to get closer. As soon as you do, they move the goalpost.
Some women had fat removed from their asses when impossibly thin was in. Now they get to stare at the big butt trend, and realize they used to have that–and now they’re back outside the ideal?!
But never fear! Butt implants exist, and anyone is willing to sell them to you for thousands of dollars.
Lots of girls hated their big boobs and wide hips when they hit puberty early–but lucky for them, exaggerated curves are in. For now.
It’s just so unfair and repugnant that it’s someone’s job to make sure we are never fully satisfied with the bodies we have. That’s how people can continue to profit from our insecurity.
Sometimes, I see a truly gorgeous woman with the current “perfect body” and I think to myself, “God. Compared to this woman, I am truly a swamp monster.”
What I don’t often think about is that, this gorgeous woman is having her moment of validation now, but fashion is fickle. In the blink of an eye, someone influential can decide that flat butts are back. Another woman will move into her spotlight and become the new standard of perfection. Society will toss aside this beautiful, perfect woman and leave her to scramble like everyone else.
Because that’s what diet culture is. It’s not just the weight loss industry. It’s every industry and system that works together to make sure we never get to the finish line. When we get close, they stick out their foot and trip us. And while we are trying to get back up, they move the line another hundred yards.
There is nothing inherently wrong with following trends and looking current. I do it myself when I can. I enjoy being at least somewhat fashionable and looking nice.
If you can’t find peace with part of you, that’s okay! It’s your right to change your body in ways that feel right to you.
But make sure it feels right to YOU. Don’t waste your time chasing a body, a face, an image that someone else told you to want. There is no guarantee that you will feel valuable when you get there. The powers that be have rigged their system against your happiness.
But if you can step outside of the culture that determines what’s trendy and see it for what it is, there is freedom. Just being whoever you are in whatever body you have feels good.
And please don’t buy a freckle pen. The creators of those things don’t deserve your money, and your face is perfect just like it is.
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