Lately I’ve been looking more closely at advertisements. They bombard us at every waking moment, from our TV screen to our cereal boxes, and they all tell us the same thing…
Adverts tell us that our legs should be absolutely hairless before we shave them (10000% true – ewww yours aren’t?!)
Adverts tell us not to chew chocolate, but to pass it sensuously through glossed lips, and, presumably, swallow it whole (how else can one truly enjoy galaxy?! – don’t forget your silk dress, either)
Adverts tell us that we should be cheerfully running a marathon on our period, whilst wearing white hot pants no less (no, you’re not allowed to stop being sexy for one week per month, you HAG – the least you could do is play tennis in a white miniskirt, if you can’t manage the marathon! honestly! )
Adverts tell us that a perfume will transform us into a wanton sex goddess, (men will flock to you like flies to shit if you spritz on some Dior, darling, it’s only common sense)
Adverts tell us that eating yoghurt is nothing if not a deeply sensual experience, (what hasn’t Nicole Scherzinger’s yoghurt spoon seen…)
These messages tell us that, above all else, our utmost concern should undeniably be with our appearance and our sexuality. We are women after all – is it not our very purpose to exude sexual mystique in our every action, to chew ‘like we’ve got a secret’, to smile sweetly and fart secretly – for our entire lives, every single day, until the sweet release of death?!
I, personally, have never felt a sudden urge to climb a mountain whilst suffering from crippling period cramps. Thinking about it, I don’t feel that passing a razor over my shaven legs would be a particularly constructive use of my time. Nor, indeed, do I have much cause to noisily french-kiss my yoghurt spoon. I’m sure that I am not the only woman to feel this way. Bizarre, then, that these messages are still so popularly distributed and readily absorbed.
It is only adult-me who has become enraged with the endless bombardment of these messages and what they symbolise – teenage-me didn’t mind much at all. Perhaps this was due to the fact that I did not question them. At all. Washing my hair is orgasmic you say? Fantastic! – Herbal Essences is the only shampoo I will use. Calories are evil you say? Great, I will only pretend to eat breakfast! Sexy ladies wear stilettos you say? Seems reasonable! – Blistering bunions for one, please! My teenage brain lapped up the toxic messages like a thirsty labrador. In fact, I once spent an entire weekend obsessively fretting over the ‘holes in my skin’, much to the amusement of my younger sisters (advertisements for foundation are airbrushed to exclude pores, so I became pretty convinced that I was half human, half sponge).
As I watch my teenage sister navigate a whole new world (enter Aladdin) of obsession with image, I wonder how on earth she will escape unscathed. The messages which blew craters in my self-confidence are now inescapable. She unlocks her phone to see tanned, size 0 girls posing erotically in bikinis, to tutorials on how to create a new face using a make-up, to celebrities and influencers selling clothes, diet tea, hair vitamins, (anything they get paid to sell, basically), on their social media accounts.
Do I have a magical solution for this problem? Well, whilst I have seriously considered renouncing modern society and becoming Amish, I’m not quite sure that I could pull off the outfit… If this isn’t a great option for you either, I’d strongly suggest making small but effective changes in your day to day life to escape running on the hamster wheel of self-hatred, (simply jumping off a hamster wheel would be disastrous, you’ve got to slow down first). We really must begin shifting our focus from self-hatred to self-love; from knocking ourselves down, to building ourselves up. This is a journey I am currently on myself (cue crystal pendants and harem pants).
My first step has been to limit the time I spent on social media – I began to notice that scrolling through Instagram was having an extremely negative effect on my self-esteem (Instagram has a timer which reminds you how long you have spent on the app, which is super useful for keeping track and avoiding IG-binging). Secondly, I have began unfollowing people on social media who present unrealistic body expectations and beauty standards – I mean, it’s great for celebrities whose job it is to look amazing to post pics of them doing so, but there is no way I can live up to that, especially when it’s all probably airbrushed anyway. Lastly, though it is a lasting addiction of mine, I’m trying my very hardest to spend less money on beauty products. The beauty industry literally makes millions by making women feel like sh*t. When you break it down and really think about it, it’s kind of crazy to think that an industry makes so much money by creating imaginary problems and ‘solving’ them:
“Natural eyelashes making you look like a short-sighted mole? Thought so! Luckily, we’ve invented a tiny hairbrush for your eyelashes! All it takes is a few dozen pokes in the eyeball and you could look beautiful, like this lovely lady here, (who everyone likes more than you – no one could love a mole) BUY IT NOW” **
**may cause itching, scratching, burning, self-hatred, sudden death
If you’re seeking replacement for Kardashian-stalking, or binge-watching red carpet videos from the 90s (only me?), the ‘2019 Makers Conference’ account on Instagram is a great place to start. Wave good bye to ‘legs or hotdogs’ and hello to inspirational speeches from some seriously amazing women (also, Jameela Jamil makes some stellar jokes about porn).
Best of luck on your journey to self-love babes – don’t let the bastards grind you down.