Friday, April 18, 2014

Why I Will Never Look Like a Model and Why That Shouldn’t Matter

"Just because you don't look like those girls in Poise magazine doesn't mean you're not beautiful in your own way."

"I don't wanna be beautiful in my own way. I wanna look like these people!"

"Oh, those aren't people, honey. Those are models."
- 13 Going On 30



From what I've been told, I was a small baby. I was somewhere around 6 pounds, so approximately the weight of Victoria Beckham's left leg. I feel like I was fairly average growing up through elementary school. Average height, not too lanky, but not chubby in the wrong places. In fifth grade, my feet grew to a size 9 and I sprouted to about 5 feet, 4 inches. I was not only the tallest girl in my class, but one of the tallest kids in general. At that age, it was mortifying to be taller than the boys. I despised my height and prayed to shrink to a petite size like my friends. Come high school, I was begging to be 5 foot 10 like my idol, Taylor Swift. Funny how things change, huh?

I started playing soccer when I was 4 and didn't stop until my last season during senior year. I danced and played basketball during the winters as well. I was active and my body started to show it. My legs became more muscular rather than slim, lean beanpoles. My arms grew muscles that I didn't know even existed. Fifth grade was when I started noticing me filling out my jeans more than I had in previous years. I thought nothing of it in elementary school. The least of my worries was the size of my thighs. Nobody cared about it back then. We played kickball in the schoolyard, worrying about which team was going to win that day.

What changed between the last day of 5th grade and the first day of 6th grade still perplexes me. Suddenly I became obsessed with the way my body looked in certain outfits. I thanked the Lord every morning for being able to wear skirts to school as part of our uniform so I didn't have to look at those bulky thighs for longer than a few seconds while I got dressed in the morning. It seemed that no matter what I did, my legs got bigger and my pants got that much tighter.

Middle school is when I started delving into the "celebrity culture". I picked up loads of teen magazines, rifling through them for the newest edition to my wall of posters. I also got my first laptop in  the 6th grade and began surfing the web for what was probably the worst offender. I looked up pictures of my favorite actresses at the time. They were all a few years older than me and the concept of Hollywood wasn't familiar to me. I didn't get that these people were all done up and didn't wake up like that. Sometimes I feel like I still don't get that, just so I have a reason to feel sorry for myself.

It's not like anybody was coming up to me and told me that I was fat during middle school and high school. Nobody told me that my hair was hideously ugly and that I should do something about it. Not a single person made fun of my acne or the fact that I didn't wear makeup. So where in the world did I get this negative image of myself, and why did I care so much about what people thought about me? Why do I still care so much?

I ended up at an above average height of 5 feet, 6 inches (or about 1.7 meters for basically everybody outside of the United States) and an average weight I would rather not share online. In short, I am sufficiently average in the body category, yet the ideal for women is still those 5 foot 10 models who wear sample sizes. I am in no way trying to say that being a tall, lean women is a bad thing. I am also not trying to say that a woman barely reaching 5 feet who wears a size 10, 12, 20, etc.. is a bad thing either. We need to sit back and remember that different body types exist for a reason. Shouldn't we learn to embrace our differences, rather it be curves or lean legs or big feet?

At my stature, I will never look like Karlie Kloss or Miranda Kerr. I know this now and I am still trying to accept it. With my muscular legs, I will never have mile long legs like Taylor Swift (#StillMyHomegirl). I won't have gorgeous, sleek hair like Zooey Deschanel in her Pantene commercials. And do you know what I have to say to all of this? SO WHAT?

Who is the media and society to judge somebody's appearance? Happiness and success does not have to rely on that number on a scale. Nobody should have to feel like they're not worth something just because there is a social stigma that comes with a certain look. The media has no right or authority to condemn a look. I don't believe that anybody has the right to do so.

Who cares if you can't see your collar bones or that there is no space between your thighs? Who cares if you have a blemish or two or ten? Who cares if your hair is frizzy? Why does any of this matter? Does anyone really care what other people look like or did the media just convince us that appearance trumps who you are as a person?

Imagine how many industries would go out of business if women woke up one morning and suddenly liked their bodies and the way they looked. 

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