The Real Ideal

An image of a gorgeous, healthy-looking, curvy woman pops up in my Facebook timeline. People rave about her in the comments — finally a pretty woman! And I agree that the shift towards curvy women is a fantastic thing, but we’re not there yet. Yes, we’re finally getting rid of the skinny ideal, yet the beauty ideal still is made up of labels — just different labels. 

Layers

Whenever someone comments on these pictures that it is great that we get to see something realistic, I want to say: “cheers!” I fully agree with that, because most media images are not realistic, and certainly not reliable. We do not know how many layers of make-up and how many layers of Photoshop were added for that photo. The only thing we know is that this model looks absolutely amazing, that she has no blemishes on her face and that she has a wonderful waistline and no love handles. Oh, and her just-out-of-bed hair! Looks almost better than our best hair days, meaning that we spent at least an hour in front of the mirror. And celebrities? They wear pyjamas in the supermarket and still manage to look super stunning in paparazzi pictures.

What we don’t see

We don’t see the stylists, what the models or actors (do not) eat or the hours of exercise put into those snippets, those moments frozen in time. And who knows how long the celebrities spent in their closets to pick the perfect pyjamas? We only see the end result — slim people looking really happy, healthy and pretty. There you have the perfect ingredients for an ideal that we want to achieve, but that is usually out of reach – because we compare ourselves to a creation, and not reality.

The new trend

This is why people are so excited on social media about a new trend, and skinny is not it. “Plus-size” is not it either — people want the “plus-size” girls, but not the term. Because you know what, they look just right. Normal. Beautiful. Away with everything thin and skinny. That’s when I stare at my screen. Initially I feel a little bit hurt, even though I know I should not take it personally. But I now realise that what really bothers me, are not the comments that imply that skinny is not pretty. What really bothers me, is that we still think in boxes and labels. Curvy, plus and normal-size, to name a few. By all means, I support the idea that we need “normal-sized” models, actresses and whoever serve as role models for these ideals. But the emphasis on how beautiful these women are compared to those thin girls only shows that we’re not there yet. We’re still holding on to a certain standard — one that emphasises a healthy look, realistic size, and curves. But one does not exclude the other. Someone far less curvy or even curvier can look just as beautiful as anyone else.

My real ideal

To me, the real ideal — if there is any such thing — is that we embrace all these different forms, sizes and shapes of pretty and beautiful. Because in the end, we all have our own unique beauty — because we have a great personality or because we look fantastic — and we should embrace this. The ideal is just a label; it should not be something to strive for, to look similar to someone else. Yes, let it inspire you, but mostly, be your own kind of pretty; emphasise, enhance and love your own beauty.

Photo by Bart Peeters
Make-up by Eline van Gils
Model: Marianne (Models Office and Maxi Me Models)

 

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