A couple of nights ago I sat looking through some old photographs through from childhood and into my mid teens. I scoffed in horror at the outfits I wore and my hair pre straighteners which was a mass of curls complete with a fringe which could rival a labradoodle. The cringeworthy pictures got me thinking about beauty and body confidence and the up and down relationship we have with our image. I think we all have good days and bad days when we look in the mirror (my bad days are more often that not the morning after being fuelled by Mexican beer when I have the remnants of last nights mascara smudged along my cheek and the dour grey tinge of unloved skin).
It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others, whether its our friends, other bloggers, random people in the street or celebrities. It’s so easy to create a shopping list of “wants”: longer hair, fuller lips, slimmer legs, a nose that’s a little bit smaller, smaller ears, a bigger bum. When I was younger I always wanted to be thinner, a little bit shorter, long blonde straight hair that didn’t frizz and dimples instead of gerbil cheeks.
Beauty blogs are always directed towards exactly that, beauty. Whether they feature how-to tutorials on how to make your face slimmer using contouring to make your face appear slimmer, a review of a mascara which promises to make your lashes longer or a foundation which will make your skin appear flawless. Some people may see beauty blogs as being completely superficial and shallow. To some extent, when I’ve read the 100th post of the day on “my new favourite lip gloss” or “my new go to blusher” I start to think it myself, hence why my blog has drifted slowly towards being more of a lifestyle blog. Because sometimes I get to the point where I wonder whether people may have forgotten what “beauty” is actually all about.
And then I see a tweet or a blog post from a fellow blogger which makes me “check myself” and my judgementalness.
What I don’t think people realise about the beauty blogging community is that although most of the blog posts are about “aesthetic beauty”, reviews, how tos etc the underlying message is that of enhancing your natural beauty. Yes, natural beauty. I began reading beauty blogs almost 3 years ago, and started writing about beauty almost 2 years ago. If you were to compare the “Charl” of then to the “Charl” now aesthtically it’s apparent that the mascara reviews and the how to guides have rubbed off on me. The way I put together my face or style an outfit is much more polished than that of two years ago. I’m much more daring when it comes to playing with colour and fashion and that’s not just because I’ve been handed the tools to do so. Behind all of that exterior is a confidence which has been fuelled by the support, encouragement and love of a community who despite some playground squabbles at times, support eachother and have eachothers backs. These girls relish digitally high fiving eachother and liking eachothers pictures/leaving some kind of sexually (un)suitable comment (I’m looking at you Callie, Dani and George).
The analogy of an ugly duckling flourishing into a swan (albeit a slightly scruffy swan who’s been in a fight) has never been more befitting a situation. I’ve never really been comfortable in my own skin. I’ve taken my fair share of verbal sticks and stones for being overweight, for being ginger, for being pale (the list goes on) and I’ve spent a large proportion of my life wishing I looked like someone else.
When I turned 26 in May last year I felt that I’d finally begun to accept myself and the face/body I was born with. The face that will always be a little rounder and moonlike than desired and the body that will always be a little squishier than I’d like. Rather than zoning in and hating the parts of me that I aren’t too comfortable with (I won’t point them out, if I do and you ever meet me you’ll be looking for them) I’ve begun to make a concious effort when looking in the mirror to focus on the bits that I like or which are reflective of the life I enjoy.
I have a body that will never be referred to as slim, toned, buff, “fit”, muscular or any of those words that you’d associate with the likes of Cheryl Cole, Megan Fox or Mila Kunis. I have alabaster skin, freckles that I’ve gained from holidays abroad sitting on the beach and reading a novel or from days spent in the sun at BBQ’s. I have curves where a woman should have curves. A bosom which makes the perfect pillow. A backside which may referred to as a shelf or one which you could easily rest a pint of Guinness on. Hips which some would call “child bearing” hopefully meaning that giving birth to something the size of a melon will come slightly easier to me than most (or probably not). I have the not so “dreaded” ripples of cellulite and tell tale stretch marks that I owe to eating too much cheese or drinking too much red wine. I have legs “up to here” which (if they were a little/lot slimmer) wouldn’t look out of place on a statuesque Victorias Secret model and thighs which jiggle (a
little bitlot more) than Beyonce’s do when I’m recreating her Drunk In Love video in my bedroom – but doesn’t that just make me twice as fabulous as Beyonce?
I’ve discovered that beauty is a lot more about acceptance and confidence than physical attributes. We put other women on a pedestal because of everything we envy about them, its the usual “wanting what we can’t have” battle, but what beauty, fashion and plus size blogging has taught me is that even the most beautiful and confident of women have their own body insecurities, the only difference between them and the “me” of a few years ago is confidence and acceptance.
What do you love about you?