Media’s Perfection through a Young Woman’s Eyes

sunset strip billboards jun12

by Dusty Rose (USA, age 25)

I live in Los Angeles, self-proclaimed “Entertainment capital of the world.” Every waking morning the denizens of this overcrowded mini-state are inundated with images. Billboards on the work commute or daily walk, magazines in the grocery stores, banner ads in the email sidebar or website of choice, commercials and trailers for every conceivable product, film, and TV series.

I have lived my life so swamped by these images that I have learned to tune them out for the most part, which only prompts bigger, flashier, more attention-grabbing ones to take their place as advertisers realize we’re becoming inured to their attempts.

The few times I actually stop and look at what is being sold, I realize that it is always Perfection of some kind. If they are not directly showing you how YOU could be Perfect, they are showing you actors and actresses who set a standard for “Perfect” that few can reach naturally.

I remember growing up hating myself all the time. Before I knew the diagnosis label Trichotillomania, I was pulling out my eyebrows and eyelashes from anxiety, and would spend hours meticulously tweezing my knees because it calmed me down. When I hit puberty, skin-picking was added to the mix. The pulling and picking eased my anxiety, but directly fueled a raging self-hatred. Several passages in my old journals spew vitriolic sentences about how “Princesses don’t have scabbed and scarred faces” and “Princesses don’t have gaps in their eyelashes.” I never actually referenced Disney princesses in this, but rather the idea of Perfection that I saw everywhere and was embodied in the term “Princess.” Whatever it was, it wasn’t me, and I belonged “in the garbage with the trash.”

As I have grown, I have struggled and continue to struggle with overcoming my self-hatred. I don’t wear makeup unless I completely lose an eyebrow, and then it’s just a little eyebrow pencil. I feel shame some days, but prefer not to hide behind a mask like there’s something terrible that I must hide about my appearance.

I have also made many friends, and at least three were actively bulimic when I was with them. It was when their fingers were down their throats that I most raged at the images everywhere, the worshipped model of Perfection that made them think they were “less than.” I hated the pain my friends were in, and wished with all my heart they would see themselves as beautiful, even as I could not see myself as anything more than garbage.

If I could change one thing about how the media presents women, it would be to strip away the concept of perfection. Not that women don’t go around all day without makeup, many do. But do they wake up in Perfect eyeshadow? Do they swim with gloriously thick mascara? Is every blemish properly concealed to avoid the horrifying truth of nature? Must every single woman walk around looking like she just spent half the day in a high-end salon? And, in the vein of stripping away “Perfection” as it is known, I would add in a boatload of women in various sizes and shapes as actresses in main and supporting roles, whose role in the film is NOT to be fixed, degraded, or made fun of. I would have some struggle with their appearance, reflecting our own struggles, and I would have some rejoice in their reflections to give us some hope that we, too, can enjoy ourselves in any shape and size.

Maybe one day the standard for Perfect will be different, or maybe we will outgrow the need for Perfect. Until that day, the best thing we can do is build each other up in the places where we are constantly torn down.

30 thoughts on “Media’s Perfection through a Young Woman’s Eyes

  1. “If I could change one thing about how the media presents women, it would be to strip away the concept of perfection.”

    >> Well said.

    I feel like the very concept of perfection is portrayed only in such a way to keep women (or all of us, including men really) afraid, insecure, and consumeristic. And it seems to be working. Brave of you to share your story, Dusty. Thank you!

    • I agree as well, perfection nowadays is plastic surgery and 10 lbs of makeup.

    • There’s a reason that they are doing that, it’s to sell you shit you don’t need. The simple solution to this is to stop listening to the media. This helps on two fronts. 1. You won’t buy their stuff so they won’t get money and make more advertisements that offend. 2. Even if the boycott doesn’t work you personally won’t be bothered because you stopped paying attention. Work on yourself and you can change the world that way.

  2. This is very interesting topics which has been discussed on various occasions but where no solutions have been really found yet. I found myself a lot in your story… and it made me sad… I grew up in France on the French Riviera between MonteCarlo and St Tropez, where everything is bright and sparkling, where girls are taught from a young age that if you look hot and sexy you will probably grab someone rich and famous and make a life of it… where you always need to be the best at a very unhealthy competition to look skinnier and where you cant be outside the so called ” norm”. I was the bigger girl around all these girls who needed to look like these models singers and actresses in the magazines… guys judging you because you don’t look like you are out of a RnB’s videoclip. This influence is a real sickness it makes you grow up with the wrong values and definitely makes you disrespect your mind and body because you don’t listen to them anymore… I found my solution, I left my country and started over in London where I am happier and where people tend to live the way they want… but it still doesn’t mean that the society has evolved… I hope that articles like yours will help though. Thank you Dusty.

  3. Yes, this idea of perfection is a crippling concept, and I believe it affects almost everyone in some way. Men and women. Men in their expectations of women, and obviously women with their own self-image. Make-up is a small part of it, but airbrushing is a more damaging aspect in media images.

    To look back at photographs in the media from the 1970’s and 1980’s for example, glamorous women in full make-up still had skin pores! Thin hair was thin hair, as was thicker or frizzy. It was more acceptable that each person was different. Now, young men are facing the same pressures – it’s not unheard of for teenage school boys to fake-tan, urgh

    For me, I don’t see size as the only problem, although I feel we have as a society began to embrace more ‘normal’ body sizes, although I’m not denying it is still an issue. But the uniform body parts and unreal looking hair and skin, thanks to the modern digital world has set unrealistic expectations – the only way we can be good enough is by ‘spending money’, and that’s the nail hit on the head.

  4. Thank you Dusty. You’ve written one of the most compelling blog posts I’ve read this month. Please may I just take a moment to thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing and doing this. You are a very courageous person, and I can relate strongly to the points you’ve raise, especially because after college I lived in LA for 2 years. I just wish more women would see your video, and hear the very important remarks you’ve made. Thank you so much Dusty. You have more support out there than you realize sweetheart.

  5. As I read this, I was honestly horrified at the reality of this. I feel like stories like this are ones that nobody wants to face because they don’t want to have to deal with the fact that there are young girls who feel like this all over the world. I live in Phoenix, but due to its close proximity to Los Angeles, I go there often, and the two places are actually quite similar. While in Phoenix, we don’t have as much pressure on girls, there’s still a different kind of pressure. I’ve always stuck out. I’m short, not particularly thin, pale, and my hair is a peculiar mix between brown and red. Being surrounded by tall , thin, tan, blonde girls growing up and even now made it hard not to compare myself. It was never a big issue for me, but I think that for many young girls, it is. With that said, girls who tall and blonde are made to feel like they’re perfect and have to remain that way. I have known girls who were seen as “perfect”, so they get pressure to never do anything that would cause them to lose that label. As a girl, you are taught either way that you either have to be perfect, or remain perfect. It’s an awful cycle, and it’s good to see that there are women who care about stopping it and teaching young girls that “perfect” isn’t looking a specify way, it’s looking how they already look and being a happy person.

    • Firstly, thank you so much Dusty for posting this blog post and video! It is so true and horrific the ideals that are set for women these days. I think almost every woman in the world has experienced some form of self-hatred or lack of self worth as a direct result of the horrific amount of perfection images and products fed to us by the various media outlets. that is a brilliant poem and it really spoke to me and moved me.

      Also i just wanted to say to Maddy Mahony that i am tall and blonde and i have never in my life felt perfect. I have always felt frustrated because my female friends and family would often say that they were jealous of my hair or oh i wish i looked like you, but at the time i felt fat and worthless and have always found the labelling of tall blonde people as the perfect type of person as very annoying and narrow minded… everyone is perfect and beautiful in their own unique way! just because somebody is tall and blonde does not mean that they themselves automatically feel perfect and happy…

      • Lily, I understand you completely. I’m not tall and blonde, but people have always focused on my looks when they meet me or compliment me. It’s “Nice to meet you, wow your hair is gorgeous!” or “It’s been years, but you haven’t aged a bit!”. I feel a lot of pressure to always meet or exceed people’s expectations of me as thin and well-dressed and perfectly madeup. Meanwhile, my friends complain that they aren’t as thin as me, or don’t have clear skin, or whatever, and I want to shake them and say “You’re beautiful, and I hate being me, so why would you want my features???” No matter how beautiful or perfect someone looks, even the models on the billboards and magazines are insecure – hell, they’re probably MORE insecure that the average woman. So rather than trying to achieve some level of perfection or beauty that someone else portrays, we should embrace our own bodies and looks.

  6. I agree with Alexia, it seems to me this issue has been discussed a lot, but not much has changed about it. When I was 16, I remember reading articles that criticised magazines and fashion companies for always using images of Perfection, 12 years later, and it doesn’t seem that much has changed. I do see the occasional ‘plus size’ photo shoot, though, even these types of photo shoots tend to give an unrealistic image of the person.

    When I was younger, I too, use to stare at these images and wonder why my skin wasn’t as smooth, or my legs weren’t as skinny, or my hair didn’t style the way displayed in magazines, and it definitely made me depressed – and I grew up in Australia, a country that is supposed to be ‘laid-back’ and not particularly fashionable (though I guess this has changed a lot). Luckily, now I don’t feel as many social pressures, probably because I’ve been travelling for the past 3 years, so I am a bit disconnected from everything at the moment, or I guess it could be that my priorities have changed as I’ve gotten older?

    My cousin (female) is in her teens at high school in the UK, and it’s very sad for me to watch her go through the same torment as I did. The only difference is she is feeling these, ‘social pressures’ of Perfection, at an even younger age that I did. 13 years, and she’s already wearing more make up than I ever wore… Is it safe to say the issue is actually get worse amongst young people instead of better?

    Like Angela said, the images from the 1970s & 1980s include a variety of shapes and types of people, now it’s not always the case. So, being different isn’t good? Is that the message that is being delivered to young people?

    Dusty, thank you for the honest article. It was a great read!

  7. What a wonderfully written article. Kudos to you for opening up and putting yourself out there like that! I wholeheartedly agree with your statements about the media, but another key player in this initiation is the parental home. I’ll try to keep this short and apologize if it goes on too long, I just have so much to say! 🙂

    Like many others, I spent my entire life trying to live up to the image of the “ideal” woman. In fact, for me it started when I was very young. My family is very old fashioned. They believe that a woman’s “job” is to keep-house and look good for her husband. Education and a career ranked at the bottom of their list of wishes for me. My female family members dressed me up like a doll and praise generally consisted of terms like “you look so pretty,” and “how beautiful!” Children love praise and since my ideas and educational accomplishments didn’t get me the adoration that a cute dress could, I began seeking praise by trying to look my best. The media was my guide.

    I initially dropped out of college at the behest of my mother. Instead, she steered me toward becoming a beautician and (hopefully) meeting a well-off man. I worked for one of the top salons in our region. My employer requested that we wear heels and wearing pants was frowned upon. Like a “good girl,” I complied. Standing in heels, primping and preening was actually affecting my health, but I toughed it out. I was not happy, but when even your mother thinks that this is where you should be, it’s difficult to see how much more is out there. How much more I was capable of doing.

    My pivotal moment came in 2001. I was jolted by the attacks of September 11. On September 12, I shocked my family by walking into a recruiter’s office and trading my makeup and high-heels for combat boots and camouflage. I served in the military for 12 years, was very successful, saw and did more than I had ever imagined. I NEVER felt freer!

    After leaving the military, I became a teacher. Now I see young girls each day, being inundated with even more disturbing images than the ones we had 30 years ago. They are being initiated into that same world in which I was trapped, and it breaks my heart. I wonder if they will ever have a pivotal moment, when they realize that they are already perfect and can make an impact on this world, EXACTLY as they are.

    While I hope that the media one day changes its tactics, I also hope that parents become educated on how things are influencing their young girls. While they can’t entirely shelter their children from the influence of the media, they are in a position of immense power, if they chose to be. Their words and actions, even when their kids appear not to be listening, can make an enormous impact on the child.

    Parents! Educate your young girls about the media’s skewed representation of women. Offer them more praise about their accomplishments and ideas, instead of just their looks. When we stop making “pretty” and “beautiful” the goal for our girls and start making “smart” and “well done” the goal, then our children will have something else to aim for.

  8. I must say it is very frustrating to have the media shoving these images of perfection down your throat everywhere you turn! There’s nothing worse than feeling like you need to live up to someone else’s standards and regardless of what you do, you never quite hit the mark.

    Of course, we all know there is no such thing as perfection, there is no perfect size, and even those glorified models and actresses who seem so flawless are Photoshopped until nearly unrecognizable. It isn’t surprising that so many girls are growing up hating their bodies, hating themselves for not being perfect, and hating a world that tries to make them something they’re not.

    I personally have struggled with weight issues for my entire adult life. I grew up in a family that was quick to point out when you were gaining a few pounds and though their teasing was mean to be playful, it could still cut straight to the core of my being and make me feel like I was nothing more than an imperfect failure. I spent the bulk of my teen years trying one diet after another, exercising until I was sore all over and sick as a dog, and I wouldn’t leave the house without having my make-up and hair perfect.

    Every week I would spend all of my allowance on magazines filled with images that I so desperately wanted to duplicate. I would cut out and tack these thin, gorgeous models with their perfect bodies and perfect smiles right up on my wall so I could look at them and be reminded of my goals. I even stuck a magazine page with Kathy Ireland in a skimpy swimsuit on the fridge so I would think twice before grabbing a bite to eat. These images all reminded me of what I wanted to become, but looking back I’m saddened knowing that I was never “good enough” and instead of being myself and enjoying those years to the fullest in the comfort of my own skin, I was constantly trying to reinvent myself. Why? Because that’s what the media and society told me I should do!

    Now that I’m older and thankfully, much wiser, I can see how disillusioned I was when I was young. However, even to this day I still struggle with that inner voice telling me I’m too fat to wear this, or that I shouldn’t eat that. I hate that part of me and I have no idea how to rid myself of it. It’s that same little voice that will pop up out of nowhere when I try something on that shows my curves and I begin to tug at it because I feel like it’s showing my fat. I sometimes have to force myself to wear something out of the house because my first instinct is to take it off and cover up in some baggy clothes. I really don’t like that part of me and I’m glad that it shows itself less and less as I become more secure with my body. It’s just so hard to recondition my thinking after years of negative self talk.

    When girls are exposed to all of these images day after day, month after month, year after year, it becomes so ingrained within them that it seems almost impossible to shake. I worry sometimes about my own daughter and try so hard to instill within her a confidence and understanding that beauty isn’t something you wear or how you look, it’s something that comes from within you. She once came home from school crying because another little girl told her she couldn’t be a princess because her teeth were crooked. They were 6 years old! I was so upset but more for the other girl than my daughter because I know how to handle the situation and explain that a princess doesn’t equal perfection and no one is perfect!

    I completely agree that the first line of defense against the lies being fed into our children by the media beings at home. Parents need to help their children understand what true beauty is and that there is so much more to life than being considered pretty or striving for perfection!

  9. Media’s Perfection perfectly hit on the repercussions of a society that idolizes a woman’s body. I struggled with low self-esteem for most of my teen and adult life. In my teen years Brooke Shields was the ‘every American girl’. I could never attain that body. In my defeat, I went into an abusive marriage that nearly ended my life.
    It would be years later, and the patience of my second husband, that finally allowed me to see how beautiful I really was…inside and out. Too bad I missed my youthful days mourning my imperfections, which the media magnified daily.
    Later, I watched my precious niece cutting herself, leaving horrible scars, in her desire to rid herself of the pain of not fitting in or being good enough. She is still unsure, unsteady, and insecure of her natural beauty. I pray that with time and a good husband, she too will be able to heal of the abuse the media has doled out to her battered spirit.

  10. First of all, I applaud you for writing such a personal & open piece. You – and your words – will definitely open the eyes of some young girls or women who are going through the same emotional turmoil that you are going through. You’re awesome for that!

    I grew up in an era that, while not THAT many years ago, was much less stressful for maturing girls. There was always a pressure to fit in, be girly, be skinny, and be sexy… But the overt sexuality & impossible standard of ‘perfection’ put in the heads of girls these days is nauseating.

    I have a young daughter, and I am constantly embarrassed by the commercials we see on TV together, the magazine ads we see together, the billboards we drive by together… and on and on and on…

    However, ever since she was very young I have always gone out of my way to make sure that she knew I thought she was beautiful. Today, when I see an ad that I am embarrassed to see with her, I immediately respond to it because I realize that she is probably embarrassed and intimidated by what she is seeing as a standard that she must meet. I make sure that she knows that the images she is being bombarded with are not realistic, and that she should not feel the need to “be” the women in the ads.

    Now, I know that me telling her all of this will most likely be overridden by the peer pressure she’ll receive as she grows up. But, I look forward to sharing articles like yours with her as well so she will see what real women go through when they are overwhelmed with society’s unrealistic expectations.

    Thank you again for writing this!

  11. One of the major responsibilities of the media is the invention of significant symbols that can create a mark in society. The purchase of an item define a lifestyle or accept a role in a society. However, media presented with an incomplete ideological model. Advertising aimed to women filters a social conception supposedly “required” for the male or create competency with other women. The woman is a major component in publicity that accounts for 80% of current buyers.

    I was born in Puerto Rico, a beautiful Caribbean island. Women are broad, petite and often curly hair with Jennifer Lopez hips. Our mixed come from whites, Indians and blacks cultures. So we are not at all desired by the media stereotype. I grew up when cable TV was starting in Puerto Rico and all TV commercials were with all these beautiful, skinny, blue-eyed blond and tall girls. However, whenever I watched the ads I knew it was far from the supposed “reality”. I had the privilege of having a very mature brother who told us what was fictitious ads. He explained us the American culture and how did not suit our reality. Perhaps, that learning was the reason why I didn’t suffer as much as other girls. However, my mother didn’t help me with that when she decided to relax my curly hair since I was 5 years old. But I didn’t see it. I never understood until I came to America to live and I noticed the difference in cultures. As an adult I recognized that Latinos we’re subjected to a belief which we do not participate.

    Nowadays, times are changing and we are starting to see many Latino and other cultures stereotypes in the media. That’s good. The globalization is forcing the media to gradually include different bodies. In the search of being part of other markets, companies need to open and embrace women in all of her forms. It does not mean we’re quite right. There is still much psychological damage. But we can see some changes that are starting to arise.

    Thanks for your awareness!

  12. First time I got a chance to see where this got posted up, cause I dropped out of touch with Mediasavvygirls for awhile, and I got to read all your beautiful comments and stories. Thank you so much. You are all amazing, those of you who commented, and those of you who couldn’t bring yourselves to. My love to you all.

  13. At 23 years-old, I’m still really battling with body image because of the media. As an African-American girl, you’re expected to have a big butt and plenty of hips. That was never me though. I used to be at least skinny with big breast, but since I got fibromyalgia I gained a lot of weight. Constantly seeing people like Kim Kardashian with a big butt and stylish curves makes you feel so inadequate.

    The only thing that kept my head leveled was the fact that my parents always said how beautiful I was. So, although sometimes it hurt to see perfect women all the time and not being able to get there, I still knew in a way how beautiful I was. I was not like a lot of girls in high school who had sex easily to get attention from boys. There were so many girls out there who did though and the media is so much to blame. There’s this constant message to girls “that you need to be as sexy as possible.” It’s causing girls to lose their virginity too early and leading to teenage pregnancy.

    Parents have to make sure their girls know they’re beautiful before the media gets a hold of them.

  14. Yes, Dusty Rose! Yes, yes, yes! Thank you for speaking for women everywhere! The industry isn’t going to change, but if at least we can let girls know and help them believe that their worth goes so much deeper than the size of their thighs, what a forward step that would be.

    I’m raising six imperfectly beautiful daughters, and I know the effect the world’s standards have on them. We raise our girls as Christians, but even in the Christian literature, movies, and advertisements, the models are picture perfect…only with clothes ON. Even with their fulfillment in Christ instead of worldly gains, my girls (and I) still sometimes slip back into comparing ourselves to these images and playing the “I wish I was…” game. It’s a sad sorry shame when beautiful, talented, caring people feel less than they are because the scale tells them they are more than they should be. A sad shame.

    This is the best article I’ve read in a long time. Thank you so so much for sharing.

  15. Media perfection is a real problem in the world today. It breaks my heart to see young girls glued to the tv and then trying to emulate what they see. Thanks for sharing your story in this article. My daughter is grown now but when she was little I forbade her to watch Disney movies. Yes, she was teased and the other mom’s thought I was crazy but I didn’t want her to see those perfect skinny princesses with their unrealistic problems. The worse one was Beauty and the Beast. Some big guy kidnaps the girl and keeps her locked up. She feels that if she’s sweet enough and can sing pretty that it will change him into a prince and he’ll love her? Seriously? Talk about a set up for an abusive relationship. My daughters best friend watched it constantly as a little girl and couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t let her watch it. Fast forward 10 years and the poor gal has been from one abusive relationship to another. Thanks for sharing this article. I wish it could get out to a wider range of girls before they fall into the same trap.

  16. Nancy Lynn’s comment above really struck me. As a 24 year old from the United States, I am APPALLED that an employer still request that a woman show up in heels and a dress or get out. That is what is wrong with this country (and many others). I am so happy for you girl, that you found something you really love to do and thank you so much for your service. People like you are the real heroes.

    That brings me to the point I was originally going to make. While I feel for the author, and appreciate that you shared your story, I feel like you’re sort of “blaming” the ads and society’s view of women for a disorder. I am so sorry that you went through that and it sounds terrible, but I DO feel as if people take society’s view entirely too seriously!

    As long as we continue to give merit to these so-called “experts” in beauty, we will continue to feel as though we’re not perfect and never will be, or as though we’re “ugly”. In high school, I was REALLY large, and got called all sorts of names and bullied every single day, so i am somewhat aware of the struggle. Bullying and body-shaming is REAL, I am not denying that. I am only saying that in order to move past society’s view of “beauty”, we have to stop giving it any merit.We have to stop acting as if these opinions really matter, and start spreading the message to our young girls about what beauty REALLY is. A beautiful heart, a willingness to learn and accept challenges, and a good moral code (regardless of religion).

  17. I also live in Los Angeles, and to make it even worse, I’m a Hollywood wife. I just turned 30 and I can’t tell you how many people have warned me that my husband will “replace” me any minute. Certainly his friends (35-40) won’t date a girl past 21… but then they wonder why they can’t find a girl to settle down with and have children. It’s such a high standard and unless you’re a teenaged model, you’re on the wrong side of the equation. The double standard is ridiculous. Hollywood, and in particular “the inside of Hollywood” where I ended up is a universe of itself.

  18. I live on the east coast, which at least in my opinion isn’t as bad, but there definitely are some similarities. Times are changing and its time for us to change.

  19. I totally agree with Michael’s comment: my life change the moment I stop paying attention to these commercial and media. All they want to do is to sell their stuff, so stop let a bunch of marketer define the way you should live your life. I am a 5’2 half-African and half-Caucasian woman and growing up, I tried my best to look like those women on billboards, TV, fashion magazines, etc. like straightening my hair using really aggressive and caustic products, wear high heels to look taller and started dieting at 12 years old.
    Three years ago, a hairdresser burned my scalp badly while straightening my hair and it burned a lot of hair as well! It was so painful and I looked so bad after that I decided to go natural from now on! And apply that to other areas of my life. Now I wear my curls proudly, barely wear any make-up (foundation, on rare occasions) and don’t mind stepping out in the street in flats or sneakers.
    I hardly look at commercials now, and when I do, I just remind myself that these people are actually paid to wear those products and they probably don’t even own the product they are advertising for themselves!

  20. Maybe the best way to help ourselves is to keep in mind that these people who look so perfect in the outside, are very imperfect in other aspects of their lives. These people look like this because their job is to look like this! It’s just a facade, it’s not real and it’s not meant to be copied by every person on the planet.

    It is indeed the parents’ responsibility, I think, to educate their children not to believe everything they see and understand what is real, good and worthy of idolizing and what is fake and staged, just to promote or sell something!

    Great article, Dusty Rose! Thank you 🙂

  21. Since I moved to LA two years ago, I refuse to change how I dress and wear makeup to “fit in”. I wear little makeup, I go for the sweet, cute and natural look. But I have to admit when I’m out, I notice a lot guys looking away from the girl they are with to women all taped up and Botoxed women with skin tight clothes on trying to get attention. Well they are getting what they want, but are they really happy? Society had made them so insecure that they have to do all this to themselves and they will keep doing it as long as men stare at them. Whether it’s good or bad attention, they don’t care….they think its all good. I just feel sad for them.

  22. Thanks so much for sharing about your struggles and those of your friends. It’s encouraging to see some many others here in the comment section opening up and discussing their own struggles and concerns. Perhaps that is the best approach to these pervasive and relentless images of perfection and beauty – that we be honest in how it makes us feel and we confront these needs head on. The more we talk about how we desire it but can’t achieve it, the sillier and more fruitless perfection reveals itself to be. I know in my own experience when I am dolled up and feeling my closest to perfect, I am not relieved. I am instead inundated with the fear that I may soon lose this visage and all the supposed happiness that comes with it. But that happiness never comes. It seems we need a narrative of acceptance and happiness instead. What makes you feel good? Feel worthy? Feel full? Who sees you at your best? If it is while you wear makeup, then wear it! But if you wear makeup to cover up your fears, confront them instead. Makeup, in what it does as a tool to change our face, is a great metaphor for the struggle of advertising and the images that we are inundated with: we cover up what we most need to show because of unrealistic standards. How tragic… I hope we can all instead search for what makes us feel happy and full.

  23. I absolutely loved and agree with this article, but especially the last statement written: “Maybe one day the standard for Perfect will be different, or maybe we will outgrow the need for Perfect. Until that day, the best thing we can do is build each other up in the places where we are constantly torn down.”

    We need more people in the world saying that you are perfect the way you are. That PERFECTION is what you see in the mirror before the makeup, before the “trendy” clothes. Perfection is the person who you see before you begin to conform. When we look all around us, even in small towns, we see that the “norm perfection” is to try to look a certain way or act a certain way. Even in today’s popular novels, the female character is a “bombshell”, “sensual”, “the perfect 10”. They are what men “really want”, according to the novels, movies, and music.

    The sad thing is, for the longest time I was insecure about not being “perfect”. I didn’t feel pretty. My mom, friends, and other family members would always encourage me that I looked pretty, etc. But by the world’s standard I wasn’t. It took meeting my husband to help me change the way I view myself. He would always compliment me in one way or another, and when I would have an insecure moment he would tell me why he loved me, and what he likes about my body. He has helped my self-esteem a lot. I still have insecure moments, but when I do have a moment, I tell myself 5 things that I like about myself, 5 things that I find beautiful.

  24. Now, I really like the person I am, I’m creative, I’m fat, I’m loved and I do love, I go months without wearing makeup, and when someone says I look tired or sick, I laugh.

    Then, I didn’t understand why I wasn’t like everyone else. I didn’t excel in sports or socializing. I thought I was fat, I couldn’t accept love or attention from friends or family, and I’d try to wear makeup and style my hair everyday just to be presentable.

    I don’t know when it happened, but I do know it’s something I continue to work on. Although I didn’t grow up on the West Coast or NYC, growing up in the Midwest had it’s own challenges. It seemed like every adult woman was trying to look like celebrities, so of course we followed their lead. I totally agree, I wish “perfection” would leave mainstream media’s focus and somehow let people know they are fine just the way they are.

  25. Well I seriously don’t agree with those women aiming for perfection by putting lots of make up to make it look as if it’s not their face anymore. Geez, the most beautiful person are those who are not so insecure that they don’t need to put make up on their faces anymore and and can still have a good personality at the same time. I live with that idea and I love it. I don’t have to think about how I look as long as I’m confident.

  26. Personally, I feel the “concept of perfection” is overrated, people see perfection as “the” only life goal. Is not like that and it shouldn’t be like that. In the place where I grown up, men give their wives and daughters out to their visitors for entertainment, the daughters grow up to be sex workers, looking at it from a different perspective, you realize that, the family is supporting sexism.

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