We recently had a discussion in class about if and why sex sells. Opinions varied on whether or not we should all — especially us who are women — take issue to how women are portrayed across media. Does it really affect us when women in advertisements and magazine spreads are slimmed down in some areas, fattened up in others, airbrushed for perfect skin, etc.?
When I take this issue at large, it can seem like one I’m disconnected from — even though I’m a young woman who consumes many of these altered images and glammed-up ideals on a daily basis.
But let’s get personal. I looked in the mirror this morning, after waking up from a night out. Greasy hair, smudged makeup, chapped lips and a face that had decided to breakout — either in revenge for me failing to wash it the night before or maybe as an early birthday present (sidenote: tomorrow I am 21 years old. Acne is not supposed to be a thing anymore, correct!? Nope.).
I’ve struggled with my skin for a while now, and every time I get a breakout I am bombarded by feelings of low self-esteem, annoyance and let’s face it: ugliness.
As I surfed the web for possible blog ideas this evening, I ran across some leaked photos of Beyoncé. No, they aren’t nudes. But you probably have already heard of/seen them, because they’re generating just as much attention as if they were.
More than 200 untouched photos from a few L’Oréal photo shoots were posted on a fan site. They were taken down but not all of them escaped.
I’ve always liked some Bey jams, but have definitely fallen into the Yoncé whirl of the last couple years. Since her last album especially, we have given her a ***Flawless royalty status that I would argue surpasses the already high pedestals we hold most celebrities up to. She is sexy, yet classy. She is a mother and a dedicated wife yet also a career-driven woman. She can put out the perfect album and put on the perfect show. She is queen.
These pictures seem mean and unnecessary in one way. They also, in another, on a personal level, lifted me up today. All day I’ve been feeling down on myself about my skin — reminded with every glimpse in the mirror or Snapchat reply. I saw these and was given two doses of reality:
- Every human is human.
- No matter what every piece of media we see says to us every day, even the most perfect-seeming individuals are flawed. They are human.
- Acne does not matter.
- As with most physical things, there are more important things. Beyoncé runs the damn world and is not physically (or generally) perfect. I am way more than what I look like.
These things seem obvious, simple and cliché in some ways. But on a personal level, I’ve realized I am not exempt to needing to hear them. I am not exempt to being affected by our culture’s ideals of beauty that are consistently pushed in our face by media. It is quite a shame that it takes unaltered photographs being leaked for us to see accurate portrayals of the people we look up to.
I hope the rare glimpses we do get of reality serve as reminders to women and to all that we should demand better. We deserve — both Beyoncé and I — a culture that does not shame us of our physical imperfections, but that sees and appreciates our humanness and beauty as people of talent, flaws, intelligence, mistakes, and irreplaceable contributions to the world.