In the last, I don’t know, ten years, our society has supposedly made strides when it comes to self acceptance and neutrality about appearance. High-fashion brands pat themselves on the back every time there’s a plus-size model in their show, Instagram influencers are now making money off of BOTH diet culture products and messages of self love and celebrities are now being asked, “Did you gain weight? Not trying to be mean” online instead of in person. See? We’ve made tremendous progress.
I’m not trying to be a Debbie-downer. I’d much rather be 20 years old today than when my mom was, trust me. But I’m not so sure everyone’s feeling as great about themselves as the world collectively pretends we are. We just hide it differently now.
I don’t know that I’ve ever met a truly, through-and-through confident person. But is that surprising? A lot of people who love their personality got that way because they’ve been told their looks wouldn’t get them anywhere. There’s always a chance that someone who loves how they look has been told their personality is dull. And then there’s people who are insecure about both. It’s possible this is just from my point of view and you’re reading this thinking, “What a fucking cynic.” It’s also possible this applies strictly to my generation. But we all know what it’s like to be in middle school. And we’ve all heard our parents or older siblings criticize themselves one time or another. So, that’s pretty hard to believe.
I don’t know that I view myself as being an unconfident person, but I do know I don’t have the highest self-esteem. You know when you’re like offended if someone says you should be more confident because you’re like, “I’m confident!” but then you think, “Mmm, actually no.” That’s where I’m at.
It’s pretty easy for confidence to drop when school feels like a competition show. It’s pretty easy for it to drop when you view all of your friends as prettier than you but even they don’t like how they look (and then you’re thinking “okay then wtf am I?!). Breakups don’t help either. The expectation is that we hype up all our friends on social media and then degrade ourselves “as a joke.”
What’s not easy is pretending none of that exists. The body positivity/neutrality/whatever movement seems to expect us to flip a switch and just, what, love ourselves all of a sudden? It’s like they (idk who “they” is either) are saying, “Hey, this girl wears a size 14 and she’s a model, shouldn’t that make you feel good about yourself?” But the point is that her size actually shouldn’t matter at all and we shouldn’t have to be thinking about our limbs and skin bags to feel good about anything.
I’m sure a lot of people do feel like we’ve made progress. And maybe we have, at least publicly. But I preach sustainable fashion to my friends and family, knowing full well sustainable brands have some of the worst size inclusivity out there. I tout body neutrality and going easy on yourself and then go back to my room and tear apart my appearance to my roommates while they do the same.
If you’re someone who’s reading this and thinking, “I don’t deal with this at all,” then I’m happy for you. But I have a strong suspicion most of us do. So if you do, and you’re ever having a super I’m-about-to-pick-apart-everything-about-myself moment, just think: nobody cares, and in the best way possible. Nobody cares because they are all too busy feeling the exact same way to think about whatever you’re freaking out about. You don’t have to be great. You don’t even have to be good. You just have to be enough for you!
I love talking about this stuff with other people, so if you have any ideas about where the heck we’re going wrong, let me know:)