We each have much more to give than just trying to achieve a cultural beauty standard. You are beautiful right now, exactly as you are.
Imagine waking up one morning to find that you are using your unique talents in a fully satisfying way, that you feel wonderful in your body, and that your life feels rich and complete.
Now ask yourself, how much time and money have you spent trying to live up to the cultural ideal of female beauty? Every year Americans spend over $40 billion on dieting. People put massive life energy into studying the latest diet, planning menus, agonizing over food choices, depriving themselves, and doing forms of exercise they don’t even enjoy. There is so much more to life than the endless quest to make the body look like the cultural beauty ideal.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Before the dieting craze began, people defined themselves much more by who they were and what they did in the world. They spent their life energies enriching the world around them instead of spending their time trying to look beautiful. They focused on their family, their community, and their unique talents.
Today women are subtly taught to define themselves strictly by how they look. And the look we’re taught to desire isn’t even obtainable. Only 5% of women are underweight, yet 87% of the actresses we see on television are. And models? Not only are their photos heavily airbrushed to remove any “flaws”, they generally stand 5’9″ and weigh 110 pounds. The average American woman, at 5’4″ and 140 pounds just isn’t ever going to look like that plasticized model no matter how hard she tries. Caribbean women like myself – well, we are naturally curvy, oftentimes buxom and do not fit the model of the ideal weight based on our heights.
Some of the time and money we spend trying to look like those actresses and models could be much better spent living a great life. There is a sadness in the desperate quest for beauty. It’s unsettling to see celebrities starving themselves into emaciated bodies. How much more graceful it is to accept the wonderful bodies we were born with and put our life energies and money into making a meaningful contribution to the world around us. We each have much more to give than just trying to achieve a cultural beauty standard. You are beautiful right now, exactly as you are.
Take your life back from the media machine. You are more than the “look” you present to the world. Inside each one of us live hopes, dreams, talents, and the potential for a joyful, rich life. Life goes by fast. Make it a wonderful experience instead of a quest for unattainable beauty and thinness.
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2017.