As I near the end of my adolescence, I cannot help but still feel like an awkward, pubescent girl hiding under my baggie hoodies. In the few months I have before I turn 20, I wonder why my nightly routine of getting ready to go out have yet to resemble the graceful montages gifted upon my favorite movie starlets. Instead, I spend a trying hour of staring at myself in skirts wondering if I can pull it off before I slide on my faithful and forgiving black jeans. In the peak of my inept middle school years, I had relied on the supposed absolute fact that in the years to come I would eventually grow into myself and embrace my feminine form. Unfortunately confidence is still an issue.
It would be a dream to be able to only think positively whenever you look in a mirror. If we all lived in La La Land, then this wouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, today’s society dictates that we must look a certain way—which for me would entail receiving my nutrition solely from the sun—and thus my eyes go straight to my flaws. All those years of indulging in gossip magazines as mindless airplane reading have warped my self-perception. How am I supposed to compete with a naked Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball? How is it possible that Christina Hendricks is one of very few actresses praised for their curves, opposed to the majority praised for their lean, juice-cleansed physiques?
However, regardless of the tabloids’ lack of substance, I’m not putting the blame on the media for the struggles with my body image. Perhaps I should direct my discourse towards men given all the misogyny in the world. In the countless hours I’ve spent dolling myself up for a night on the town, I have questioned why I’m allowing myself to submit to these rituals. Wiggling through panty hose and making the ridiculous “mascara face” cannot possibly be exclusively for the attraction of the opposite sex. Personally, I have never felt direct pressure from a guy to look a certain way. I have, however, felt pressure from those struggling alongside me. Ladies, I’m talking to you.
Whether or not we’ve realized this yet, we as women dress to impress each other just as much—if not more so—as we do for men. The pandemic of slut-shaming, side-eye and simple jealousy has all rooted from seeing our fellow ladies as our fierce competitors. We see the confident girls wearing the tight mini skirts, and opposed to applauding them for their brazenness, we ridicule them for it. The subconscious desire to be the sexy, alpha female spills into nearly every social facet of our lives. Spending brunch with the girls talking about new diet trends and workout fads only instigate the situation. Surprisingly, the only time I’m able to go elbows deep into a burger without someone mentioning how bloated they feel is when I get to kick back with my guy friends. Since when did wearing what you want and eating what you want become a guilty pleasure?
The struggle with female body image has not been entirely founded through media or men, but rather through ourselves. The fact that I have been worrying far too much about what other people think, is the reason why I still feel like a stressed tween. The new form of peer pressure is not doing drugs or alcohol, but it is to fit into the female persona that somehow embodies sexiness and empowerment, without being too sexy and not too overbearing, all the while being able to walk in heels. While this may work for some women, for me and countless others, it doesn’t.
My first act of adulthood is to replace my heels with high-tops and go out and get a guilt-free burger. From this point on, I am choosing to build myself as the person I want myself to be. The beauty of womanhood is the idea that unlike females can unify themselves regardless. If we stop aiming to morph ourselves into unrealistic standards, then the struggle with self-image will surely diminish.