It’s probably most likely true that if you’re reading this, you, yourself, would have felt the pressures of societal beauty standards. Specifically looking at this from a woman’s perspective, we are trained to believe that ‘sex sells’ and that if we want to ‘feel more confident in our bodies’ we should invest in products that will help cover up that hideous blemish we have on our face, or those dark circles under our eyes, or minimise those wrinkles. Every day we are bombarded with images advertising (sometimes) heavily-edited women, looking flawless and confident in their skin. We are brainwashed to accept this standard as ‘normal’ and ‘ideal’ and we are taught to place value in it. This in turn can manifest into the dangerous idea that your self-worth is determined by your appearance.
We really began unpacking these ideas together when we started promoting our music. To release our first single with The A&R Department, we were told we needed to provide promo shots. Being so new to the music industry, we hadn’t even considered promo work, album covers, music videos, etc. When we began exploring this new part to our music our instant thoughts were, ‘We have to look good, and in order to look good we need flawless makeup and perfect hair!’ Now, there is a difference between feeling like you NEED to look good and feeling confident in how you already look. We would research other bands and artists that we liked, and look at their promo work, album covers, and their music videos, and they ALL, in our eyes, LOOKED amazing! How on earth were we supposed to look like that? How were we going compare to them? That kind of thinking, and those sorts of feelings, are a huge hit to your self-esteem. And here is the truth… We can’t look like them, because we are who we are - unique and beautiful in our own ways. We don’t want heavily-edited images. We want images that represent us and allow our personalities to shine through. That doesn’t mean that we won’t do ourselves up for a shoot, but it means we know in ourselves that we are OKAY as we are, and we are not comparing ourselves to other people. Mind you, we are not perfect and of course we have moments of insecurity and self-doubt. In the moment of a shoot, we may still have those negative thoughts running through our heads telling us we’re not good enough. At the end of the day we remind ourselves not to place too much value in our physical appearance, and to be happy in our own skin.
It’s only very recently that I have stopped wearing foundation daily. I have worn foundation since I was 15 years old. I stopped predominantly because I found that my skin in recent years has started breaking out, and my thought was that maybe the foundation was part of the cause. I have gone without it for a month now and at first I was freaking out, thinking people would be looking at me wondering why I looked different and strange without it. In the end, most people didn’t even notice I didn’t have it on. I actually have received a few compliments on my skin, which was definitely unexpected. The next challenge I am setting for myself is to go natural with my hair. I have naturally curly hair which I have always disliked and for years I have been straightening it. I want to dedicate time with a hairdresser to learn about how I should be looking after it and eventually develop confidence in my bouncy curls!
For so long I have felt the need to hide certain aspects of my appearance from the world, only to feel a little hollow inside when I take my makeup off or wash my hair and let it dry naturally. I am SO hard on myself and am my own worst enemy (and seriously how sad is that?!) – something has got to change. Thankfully, my wonderful partner, Tomer, loves every aspect of me and LOVES my freckles and my curly hair. Whenever I am as natural as can be in my own home, he always comments on how beautiful I am. I don’t feel the way he does quite yet about myself, but I know that taking these small steps will eventually lead me to feel more confident in myself.
Already I feel a lot better without my foundation to hide my freckles and breakouts, and soon I want to feel the same way about my curly hair. It’s a journey I will make sure to document for other people who might find this relatable. I’d hate for anyone else to demonise the way they look, because of societal expectations of beauty standards, the way I have for many, many years. I especially wouldn’t want my future children to look at me covering myself up, hiding my natural beauty to meet a standard that is unrealistic and harmful. I would want them to see me happy and embracing life for what it’s worth and not for what my looks tells me I am worth. They won’t escape the curly hair – Tomer and I both have it – and I would feel so hypocritical telling them how beautiful they are the way they are, while straightening my hair and covering up my freckles. So, if I start now, hopefully, by the time I have my own little ones, I will be setting a good example and a statement that we are who we are - and screw you beauty standards. You have no place here!
I think beauty standards that are presented in media and advertising are absolute bullshit. If we think about all the little ways we are told to basically modify our bodies in order to fit into the mould of what is beautiful and attractive, it is astounding. Women should be SKINNY, they should also be HAIRLESS, have a nice summer TAN all year round, wear MAKEUP, manicure their EYEBROWS and NAILS, tint their LASHES, get dermal fillers for their LIPS and botox for their WRINKLES. The ways we can modify our natural appearance in order to fit into this beauty standard are countless. Of course in saying all this, I am not in any way trying to shame people who do adhere to any of these standards. If you love getting your nails done, or love getting your eyebrows threaded, awesome - go for it! Do I adhere to any of these standards? Of course!! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t! I myself love getting dressed up for a night out, meticulously applying my makeup and straightening my hair! I guess the issue arises when people don’t do these things because it makes them feel good, but do them because they feel obliged to fit the mould. As mentioned earlier, I have found that it can be extremely damaging when you attach your self worth to your physical appearance.You are so much more than just that!
Something that I have struggled with over the years is obsessive thoughts about my weight. Now this might be surprising, because if you know me, you’ll know that I am generally a pretty naturally slim individual! Even so, I have struggled. The images we see all over Facebook and Instagram, in advertising, and on TV shows, portray women with perfectly toned bodies, free from all traces of fat. The sheer amount of exposure to these images normalises this unrealistic ideal and teaches us to associate this with what is ‘attractive’. Do I have rocking abs and no fat on me? No! Over the years this need to become as skinny as possible has plagued me. I have gone through many phases of starving myself, weighing myself several times a day, and working out vigorously. This has worked wonders in the short-term, but has always been completely UNSUSTAINABLE and has NEVER EVER led to long-term satisfaction with the way I look. These days I still slip into moments of judgement and obsession, but have learnt how to control these negative thought patterns. I gather that I lead a reasonably healthy lifestyle, so why shouldn’t I be happy with however my body naturally reflects this lifestyle?
Another big one for me is makeup. I started wearing makeup at a very young age, 12 or 13 I’d say. Over the years I became (and still am to an extent) completely addicted to makeup. I had become so used to my appearance with makeup on, that I thought I looked strange and unattractive without it. I could not even leave the house without putting some on! A huge turning point for me was when I travelled around South America with Charlie for 4 months in 2017. I made an active decision to stop wearing makeup on the trip. My initial thoughts were, “No one knows me here so it doesn’t matter if I look ugly!!” At first I thought I looked pretty tragic without makeup on and had to fight the temptation to wear it, but by the end of the 4 months I was completely used to my appearance and actually thought I looked nice with no makeup! I couldn’t believe the change in my own self-perception of my appearance. I met so many other travellers on that trip who did not seem to notice or care how I looked and this was a huge self-esteem boost for me. Charlie was the best!! He was so supportive of my decision to not wear makeup, saying he was “digging my blond lashes’”!! When I returned from South America I slowly started slipping back into the makeup habit, however these days I wear SOOOO much less makeup than I used to and can leave the house without any on. For me this is a HUGE improvement. It’s so important to remember that we are our own harshest critics... literally no one else could give a stuff what we look like!!