Growing up female comes with a whole host of challenges, much like a christmas chocolate selection box where an array of horrors disguised in tempting, shiny foil nestle inside. Of course, there are plenty of great things about being a woman, but this post is about the times when sadly that is not the case. More specifically, this post is going to focus on one of the most commonly discussed issues of growing up female: the pressure to look a certain way, or do certain things to be ‘beautiful’.
In a simple, kind world, we would be able to appreciate everyone’s differences, and also spend way less time thinking about them. What I think is even worse than the pressure to fit into a particular look, is the underlying concept that a woman’s worth can be based on her appearance; both how she naturally exists and through what she actively does or does not do with her body. Yes, it’s nice to acknowledge beauty, but do we really want to live in a society in which this is, so much of the time and evident across all media platforms, the most important aspect of being a woman?
This is what crossed my mind when I read an email from a lovely blogger called Charlotte (from My 20s Taught Me)
who sent me one of her poems about the pressures put on women to look a partiular way and do particular things to try to achieve these looks. I really wanted to share Charlotte’s poetry on my blog today as this is still such a huge issue in modern society and it’s nice to hear other people’s voices shouting out against the things you as an individual feel are so wrong. Once you’ve read her (brilliant) poem, please go send her some love over on her blog!
The mirror is being a bitch
The dressing table used to be a safe space
Filled with endless possibilities
It holds an array of colours and brushes
To turn my face in to a different face
And I watched my Mother transform herself
From porcelain princess to ice queen
Or heatwave spice for her morning routine
But then I grew a little older
And the magazines told me to look a bit closer
Suddenly, I have pores to fill
Blackheads to squeeze
Hair to pluck
makeup to cover every space
because nobody should have to look at this face.
Off to boots I run
To buy creams, makeup, tweezers,
Straighteners, sprays, frizz easers,
products that promise to make me pretty
and banish problems I didn’t know I had,
until I took a second look in the mirror.
Why do we do this?
Take a maginifying glass to every bit of our body
and criticise every ‘flaw’.
When did we change from wearing a tiara
and exclaiming ‘I’m beautiful’
to fighting with our friends
in a who is wearing it worse competition.
How many women have cancelled plans
when they don’t like what they see in the mirror,
cause life will be better when they’re just a bit slimmer.
How many have called makeup war paint
when going bare faced made them feel inferior.
I cry for the day my Niece grabs at her flesh
and worries how the clothes will look on her body
when she will always be funny, and gorgeous
and perfect to me.
So why can’t I apply the same to myself?
Why do I look at my reflection and see
cellulite, fat thighs and blemished skin
and fail to see the beauty that comes from within.
I want us all to be 4 again
To pull on a dress and feel fabulous
embrace ourselves as we are
and see every bump, mark and scar,
as a museum worthy work of art.