Last week, as I was standing inside a spray tan booth, freezing my buns off...literally shivering, teeth chattering, the whole thing....I started asking myself "Why? Why do I do this to myself?". I mean, on the scale of unpleasant things you can deal with, shivering in a spray tan booth is pretty low on the totem pole, but still...is it really that important for me to be tan?
Apparently the answer is yes. Since I quit tanning in tanning beds about five years ago (yay me! I'm still proud) I have been a religious spray tanner. Literally at least once a week almost every single week you will find me at the local spray tan salon. I've been known to miss a week here or there, and those weeks I honestly feel kind of blah. Before I gave up actual tanning, I went several times a week...at some points in my life daily. For years. I would say I regularly tanned for a solid 10 years. When I think now about the damage I've done to my skin, the potentially deadly habit I was so addicted to, I panic a little bit. I'm so glad I stopped when I did, but geez, I hope it was soon enough.
But what is it that makes me feel the need to have a beautiful bronzy glow at all times? I honestly think I look a little bleh when I don't have a tan. What's that all about? I was born with nearly-see-through, super white skin. I can't tan in the natural sunlight to save my life. Clearly I'm not meant to be tan. But I can't stop.
And it's not just tanning. I haven't had my natural hair color since around the age of 14...just about the time I started with the tanning. I spend hundreds...actually, possibly thousands (ugghhhh, gross) every year to keep my hair looking the way I want it. Whhhyyyy?
And what about waxing? Am I the only psycho out there who tortures myself with this cruel and unusual punishment? Not a chance, judging by how difficult it is for me to book my appointments. But, I don't like hair. Never have. So I have it ripped from my body. I've always said if I'm ever super rich I want to have all of the hair on my body lasered off...other than my hair and eyebrows, obviously.
There are so many things we do to our bodies so that we can feel beautiful. There's this crazy standard of beauty that we feel we need to meet. The other day A and I started talking about the Victoria's Secret fashion show, and he said people were freaking out saying how bad it is for women's self esteem. I agreed that people were going a little overboard with it, but I did say he has no idea how difficult it is to be a woman, or a girl, and to be constantly slapped in the face with this idea of womanly perfection.
Growing up, until...oh, just a few years ago...I never felt pretty. I never thought I looked good enough, because I wasn't perfect. I didn't have perfect skin, a perfect body, the perfect ears, or teeth, or feet, or whatever...the list of things I've obsessed over in my lifetime goes on and on and on. I was one of those girls who would constantly compare myself to celebrities in magazines. Maybe because I wanted to be an actress, maybe just because I was a young girl and that's what young girls tend to do...but I honestly never thought I was all that great to look at.
Now, I look back at pictures of myself in high school and I think...what was wrong with you, crazy??? I was incredibly thin and fit and blonde and honestly, just pretty. And I couldn't see it. Even now, it's hard for me to type that out, but why should it be so hard? Why can't I embrace it? Of course I wasn't, and I'm definitely not now, perfect. How many people do you actually know that look like a Victoria's Secret model? I know...zero. Seriously. But I know so many gorgeous women. Maybe not gorgeous by societies standards, but gorgeous because of their compassionate hearts and their quirky smiles and their imperfectly perfect teeth. But how many of them feel gorgeous? Probably not too many.
If I have a daughter (fingers crossed!) I hope that somehow I can instill in her a confidence that I never had. I hope that she will feel beautiful even if she doesn't fit into the perfect mold that she has been told she should. I have that wish for all girls, all women. And even myself.