Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Conquer the "Beauty Ideal" Villain!


Charlotte Pingriff

After a recent relaunch, my business, Perfectly Cast, is now all about something that I find hugely important – helping ladies to develop a positive body image.  So, I thought I’d write this article about that notorious villain, the beauty ideal, and the ways in which I feel ladies can stick 2 fingers up to the notion that they have to fit this ‘ideal’.

Beauty ideals have been around since Adam was a lad, but there’s no denying that there’s more pressure than ever on women today.  We are bombarded, daily, with images of what the media, our apparent mirror to society, believes is beautiful.  Now it’s not my intention for this article to be political in any way, no.  My aim, through this article, is try to discredit the myth of ‘the beauty ideal’ and to help ladies everywhere to get it into perspective, and, most importantly, feel better about themselves.

First let me tell you a story.  Once upon a time there was a young girl.  She was slightly chubby (puppy weight), wore big, thick, plastic framed glasses, and was a model student.  Her family told her she was beautiful and clever, mean kids told her otherwise.  Four eyes, and square were regular taunts.  Upsetting though it was, this was part of daily life.  She looked at beautiful women on TV, and in magazines, and though her young mind was not yet fully affected by crippling self-doubt, constant comparisons to ‘the ideal’, and superficial self-esteem issues, it soon would be.  It would soon become a demon that she would battle daily. One she would only defeat through sheer will, and some ninja mind moves.

That girl was me.  I’m a women who has run the gauntlet of body, and self esteem, issues.  I love clothes, shoes, beauty treatments, and make-up as much as the next girl, but it’s crucial to me that I accept my body, quirks and all, and that I do all I can to feel positive and good about myself in a healthy way.  This is something that has not come easily, and I still have off days.  So I can relate, and empathise with, ladies who feel the pressure to constantly compare themselves to the fictional creatures they see on TV, in magazines, and on social media.  I say fictional for a reason, I’ll come to that in a moment.  Add to that the misogynistic attitude cultivated by lads mags, lap dancing clubs, music videos and online porn, and you have one explosive mix! 

This is a very complex topic, and one that can’t be fully addressed in one article, but I want to do my best to condense it into a few key truths, and pieces of advice, that may just help ladies to see things in a better light.

If I had to give one piece of advice, it would be to remember that even those women that you idolise, likely have their own issues and insecurities.  I know that sounds obvious, but we tend to forget.  That said, it’s not really about those women, per say, it’s about how you feel about those women.  Which leads on to my second major point – please remember that these women have very carefully cultivated images.  They have a huge team around them, and countless thousands of dollars, and a huge time investment, to enable them to look that way.  On top of the endless hard work/money, they put in, it’s worth reminding yourself that it’s not their natural state.  Even those women don’t look like those women.  I don’t say that to run them down, but rather to point out that the media ideal is not real.  It’s all smoke and mirrors!  That is why I refer to them as fictional creatures.  Cindy Crawford once famously said that she’d love to look like Cindy Crawford.  Of course, it can’t be denied, that some have been smiled down on by the gods of genetics more than others, but you can bet your bottom dollar that without all the money, time, and professionals, these ladies would look like you or I.  On the flipside, you or I could look like these women with all that malarkey in our lives!

This leads me neatly onto my next point.  Try to avoid your comparison triggers.  You know the ones; the images, situations and ideals that make you feel crappy.  Whether that be your boyfriend’s lads mag, Googling celebs, or reading fashion mags.  If it makes you feel rubbish, and you find yourself creating negative comparisons, cease and desist!  Why make yourself feel worse?  I was the one for doing that, I was always at it!  And I’m telling you ladies, it doesn’t help.  Of course you can’t always avoid all the things that can make you feel rubbish, but if you at least try to actively avoid them, not only will it increase your non-comparison ratio, it will also help you to build a better sense of self, that will help when you do come into contact with your comparison nemesis’.   

Now how about this - pick yourself a positive role model.  One who is confident, sassy, and workin’ it girlfriend!  I can’t pull off the urban chat can I?  If it helps, pick yourself a role model who’s like you – for example, if you’re 5ft nothing, and curvy, don’t choose a 6ft tall, reed thin celeb to look up to!  Though societal pressure is greater than ever, we have also started, in the last few years, to see more diverse body types being celebrated – yay!!  From the tall, elegance of Giselle, to petite and curvy Jo-lo’s and kim K’s, to the beautifully buxom Melissa McCarthy’s of this world, there’s a lady out there for all of us.   These gorgeously diverse ladies are working it for women of all shapes and sizes, and helping us all to see that, when it comes to beauty, one size does not fit all!

And another thing, be kind to yourself!  It’s ok to sometimes feel down about yourself, you can’t be happy 100% of the time, you are human – but it will pass.  Don’t fall into the trap of generalising your feelings, for example ‘I always feel like I’m not good enough’.  It’s odds on that you don’t feel that way 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Thinking that way simply reinforces our negative image of ourselves.  Instead, tell yourself ‘I feel rubbish now, but it will pass’.  Recognising that a rubbish feeling won’t last forever, helps to take the power out of it.  Even if you do find yourself having the odd wallow though, that’s fine too.  Everyone’s entitled to have down times.

Finally, whilst your deep-seated negative feelings about yourself may take some work to conquer, it’s ok, actually, to do superficial things that make you feel good.  Whether that be buying lovely clothes, wearing your make-up a certain way, getting your hair done, or having beauty treatments.  If you enjoy it, and it makes you feel good, why not?  It’s about treasuring yourself, treating yourself as if you’re worth it.  Similarly, if you don’t like all that beauty stuff, and you’d rather be a natural beauty, embrace that!

In a nutshell, it’s about finding what works for you, to make you feel good, and avoiding the stuff that makes you feel bad.  I have, and I can honestly say that I’m happier with myself now, than I’ve ever been (though that young, insecure girl does occasionally still make an appearance – but I love her too).  The media will always try and shove notions of beauty down our throats and, you know what, those notions will change like the seasons.  So stop trying to run with the media wolves!  That’s no way to win.  Be you, embrace your quirks and stand tall.  Quirky Beauties united!

If you’d like more similarly rousing articles, as well as make-up tutorials, interviews with inspirational ladies, and down to earth beauty advice, then sign up to my free newsletter here - >><<

About the Author and her New Look Business

Charlotte Pingriff is an Artist, Body Caster and Writer. She runs the quirkily creative Perfectly Cast – a lovely arty haven of happiness, positive body image and down to earth cheer.

The whole philosophy of Perfectly Cast is about helping women feel happy, confident about their body, and positive.  To that end, there are 3 core elements to Charlotte’s business:
  • A body casting service, incorporating 4 brilliant packages to choose from (at price points to suit all), that combine a pampering experience with producing a beautiful piece of art, unique to the customer.
  • A shop, called ‘Little Shop of Happy’, selling handmade items that are quirky, funny, cute and very adult!
  • Last, but not least, the free newsletter, the ‘Quirky Beauty Brigade’, that goes out weekly, giving tons of value including articles that encourage a happier life, inspirational videos and down to earth make-up tutorials and beauty advice.

So go and take a look at, join the newsletter, and become a Quirky Beauty!!

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