So, when I was about 11, I realised that my sister was beautiful. It was the fledgling years of facebook, and she was a budding photographer, so her timeline (and mine) was awash with photographs of her and her friends, having fun, being teenagers. As a person who spent her formative years waiting for her life to begin, It looked perfect. She was perfect.
(She still is perfect, but you know what I mean.)
I, on the contrary, was just hitting puberty, just starting a new school and just beginning to wrap my head around the concept of self love. The fact I wouldn’t grasp this concept for another six or so years didn’t exactly help when it came to viewing myself, and then my sister, and finding myself lacking.
Perhaps it was even made worse by the fact I was attending the same secondary school as her, whilst she was still there, because then all the teachers would compare us (they didn’t, but they certainly knew we were related.)
But I remember, one night whilst I was in one of my many tearful fits, I confessed all this to my mum. It wasn’t exactly the first time she had heard my pre-teen insecurities, but this was probably the first time I’d brought up my sister in relation to them. I said something along the lines of, “She’s always so perfect, in all of her photos she looks so pretty and all of mine are ugly”
To which, my mum said, “Do you think she lets the bad photos be posted?”
And this is hardly a profound revelation because now that I am a fully-fledged teenager, I too doctor all my photos and make sure only the best of my 300 selfies gets posted. Now, I suppose, we have smartphones with Instagram and twitter and various filters, so putting our best face forward became somewhat easier. But it made me realize– especially since coming to university and starting all over again– that we, I, am in control about how people perceive me.
I may not be able to change my facial features, but I pick what makeup I put on them (if any). I chose my hair colour, my septum piercing, and the tattoos. My clothes and how I wear them are all my own choice. I have complete autonomy over my appearance and the way people see me.
It’s why, when I go to meet new people my own age, I wear things with a low back. Arguably I think my back tattoo is one of the greatest things about me, and I know that most people react positively to it.
IE, they react positively to me.
I’m not saying that I’m not insecure. I am. There are still parts of my body that I would change if I weren’t lazy enough to do so. But at least now I know that when I see pictures of ‘fitspo’ bloggers and celebrity selfies, that it is the best they can be, and not who they are all the time.
Constant perfection is just not right, and not possible, and it makes me appreciate my good hair days– or when my eyeliner is on point– just a little bit more.