Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We are more than our LOOKS!!!

disclaimer: I apologize in advance for any sexism that I imply here, because I do know that men go through the same kind of thing, but this post will be about my experience as a woman, so I will be discussing women's issues... not saying that this is ONLY a women's issue at all

Now that I've gotten the disclaimer out of the way, here's my topic: 

Why do we, as women, let ourselves care so much
about our looks?

one of the first results for search: what a woman should look like
Seriously.  I have been guilty of caring way too much about my appearance for most of my life.  I can't remember a time when it didn't matter to me at all.  Maybe when I was 5?  4?  3?  Even in my earliest memories, I can remember people making me feel as if my looks were more important than anything else.

Adults love to tell little girls that they are pretty, or that what they are wearing is pretty. 

And some little girls take that stuff seriously. 

"You look like a doll!!!  How PRETTY!!!"

I remember one time when I was 6 years old (ish) and I looked in the mirror, thinking that nothing about me was special.  Feeling terrible about how plain I was.  My pale freckle-less skin, my mousy straight hair, my uninteresting nose, eyes, and ears.  I hadn't yet started to worry about my weight (thank god) but I was still very much concerned about my looks.

That memory saddens me, and makes me wonder how many little girls I see every day have simular thoughts.  How many young girls put that much thought into their looks.

another "what a woman should look like" result

...And for some of us, it has never gone away.  That desire to be pretty, and the thoughts that our appearance somehow represents our worth.  That need to fit into a certain mold.  Whose standards are we trying to achieve?  And... why?

Some things are way more important than how we look.  Like... almost all things.  Just off the top of my head, here is a list of things that are more important than looks:

1) health
2) loved ones
3) work ethic
4) school and work deadlines
5) bills...?

All of these things are way more important than what we look like.  And the list could go on literally FOREVER. 

So, why is it that we put looks on such a high pedestal, and assume that if only we looked a certain way, everything else would fall into place?

another "what a woman should look like" gem.

Hmmm.  Here's a thought:

Let's stop the madness. 

I'm not saying that I'm going to stop caring about my appearance.  I am just saying that there is a balance out there.  I can still take pride in my appearance (shower, hair, makeup, clothes without holes in them) without making it a top priority.

I have been taking steps for weeks now to not care so much about food and exercise, and to instead focus on more important things (which is how I managed to ace my finals, BTW!).

I encourage all of you reading this to take a moment today and think about how much energy you put into your appearance. 

Are you only dieting and/or exercising for your appearance, or is health your main goal? 

Do you constantly (or nearly constantly) worry about how you look? 

Let's try to dial it back a bit and focus a bit more on important things. 

what a woman should look like #1 result!  (joke)


Jennifer said...

ahaha the #1 result! LOVE it!

Thanks for this reminder. It's so easy to get sucked into our culture's unrealistic expectations for how we should look. I need to just be me! And be healthy... but be me!

Cyn said...

very brave post!

i literally lol'd that the photo of lynda carter as wonder woman came up 1st for your search. i mean yeah, who wouldn't want to look like her -- she is a genetic freak of nature! lol!

i think you hit the mark that health should be the main priority in any quest to lose weight -- feeling great about how you look will come inevitably from it!
but i think more importantly that people need to be realistic. the media floods us with images of bone-thin women & messages that you need to be a size zero to be accepted. that is where we falter -- trying to achieve crazy expectations of how we think we should look.

i will never be a size zero with a flat belly & i am 100% okay with that...
but i would like to be a size 10 with a smaller belly though -- lol!

i commend you on this journey of self-discovery you are on -- i know how hard it is!


Katie said...


I love this post! I always feel like you and I have very similar thoughts. Why are we, as women, so consumed by our looks and so obsessed with fitting in certain labels--thin/ attractive/ successful, etc...If I spent half as much time working on my writing career as I do obsessing on my looks, I'd have written a novel by now ;)

I think it's important to accept who we are, as special individuals with a lot to offer (not just looks) and try to move past this fixation. In the end, I think it will help us to be happier, healthier people.

Once again, great post!

Megan said...

Great post! I try to focus on the being healthy rather than looking like ____, but it's hard! At a woman, I get so caught up in appearance, it's hard to put health first!

Amanda said...

Well put Leah! I have been focusing a lot on my looks lately. I don't know if that's because I'm getting more attention or what. I've also put on a few pounds since being back from Mexico and now I'm starting to do the fat talk to myself. Not good.

Starting Monday I'm going back to WW and I'm hoping it'll help me get back on track so that I can get healthy again. Back to fruits/veggies and eating the right way.