Monday, August 8, 2016

Why Is This Stuff So Important?

The question threw me. For the first time in my life, I didn't even know what to say.

A middle aged man (with golden intentions, don't get me wrong), had found my blog and thought it necessary to ask. Why is all this beauty distortion stuff so important? First, I was angry at him for obviously not empathizing with the struggles my readers and I deal with every day. Then, I was angry at me, because I obviously wasn't completing my mission very well.

Since taking a moment to process the situation, I understand where the man was coming from:
1) He's a man. 
And while men undoubtedly deal with masculine distortion in the media today, it is not as obvious, nor as viscious, as the beauty distortion and objectification women receive on all ends.
and 2) He's middle aged. 
Not that middle aged men and women can't empathize with the situation. Not that they can't understand the struggle, but this is far more than a Daddy-you-just-don't-get-it cry from a hormonal teenage girl. The reality of it is, previous generations often don't understand the struggle. Because they never had to deal with it the same way.

So today, we're going to take a break from attacking beauty distortion. We aren't going to talk about social media. Or advertisements. Or photoshop, or objectification, or even self esteem.

We're going to talk about why we talk about all those things.

And we're going to do so by answering some {very realistic} questions from our baby-boomer readers. So here we go.

Why did you choose beauty distortion as a platform? 
It is present in absolutely everything. I can write about whatever I want, and can inevitably relate it to beauty distortion.

But more than that, it makes women seem weak. We have always heard that the photoshopped advertisements, airbrushed models, and enhanced social media filters contribute to low self-esteem, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety in young women today, but we instead choose to blame these young women for being too naïve to notice the difference between distortion and reality.

My question is... How could we not be too naïve to notice the difference?

Bullying has been around forever. So has beauty distortion. The generations before us dealt with these inconveniences too, but they were also able to escape from it. They might have endured fights and prejudice at school or work, but they were able to return home to parents who loved them as children. They were able to choose friends who valued them for who they were. And those friends and parents were the only people they saw outside of school and work.

Today, teenagers return home to their phones. Their computers. Their iPads. They return home to the same world they endure at school and work; the same world where they are gossiped about, objectified, disrespected, and bullied. Bullied. What a harsh word, you say. It is harsh. It's also true. Today, our young men and women are convinced that everyone else's life is brighter, everyone else's body is prettier, and everyone else's mind is smarter because of the way their friends and classmates are portrayed on social media. They don't realize they are viewing a false self of the profile they have open, so they inevitably feel forced to portray a false self on their own profile. Not to mention, the comments, critiques, criticisms, objectifications, and bullying they endure in real situations follow them (often more viciously) onto their Instagram feeds, Snapchat requests, and direct messaging inboxes.

Baby boomers can say they experienced these things when they were our age. But they did not.

Not in the same way. And they won't experience them in the same way until they have their own child they are fighting desperately to save.

You don't struggle with beauty distortion. Why are you blogging about it? 
Alright friends, it's time to get vulnerable.
--I weigh myself at least once a day.
--I pull at my extra fat on my thighs, stomach, and arms.
--I check my body from multiple angles in mirrors, store windows, and dressing rooms.
--There are days I think about how easy it would be cut down my calorie intake.
--I buy the lowest calorie, lowest fat version of each grocery I have.
--There are days I hate the clothes I once loved because they don't make me look skinnier than I am.
--I have to force myself to not read articles about the fastest ways to lose weight.
--I hate myself a little more every time I sit down and have to pull the waistband of my jeans over that last little fat roll.
--I compare my body to others every single day.

Still want to say I don't struggle? Let's validate it even more.
--I have never once purchased a magazine containing weight loss tips.
--I have never once used a photo-editing program to alter a picture
--I have removed my business from many objectifying and technologically altering companies such as Victoria's Secret. (Email me about that if you have any issues, because it's one of my favorite stories to tell.)
--I have never taken diet pills.
--I have never participated in a strict weight-loss diet plan.
--I have never participated in a strict gym schedule.
--I am very active.
--I am within a healthy BMI.

You can't say that I'm naïve, because I have not bought into distorted culture. In fact, I've done my best to remove myself from it. If you've read some of my previous posts, you've probably noticed I'm a little outspoken. Yes, I am strong, but I still struggle with "this stuff" as it was previously called.

Contrary to popular belief, my work at Crayons to Confidence and other self-love crusades are not just a ploy for fat girls to feel validated, nor are they strictly a recovery tool for eating disorder survivors. They are for any man/woman with a heartbeat who lives in this toxic society. Just as you do not have to be diagnosed or on medication to experience anxiety or worry, you do not have to be laying in mental health rehab facility to struggle with beauty distortion.

Who is your primary audience for the Beauty Distortion Ban? 
I wasn't kidding. My primary audience is anyone with a heartbeat who is living in today's toxic society. If they are anxiety warriors, kudos. If they are struggling with an eating disorder, then I hope I can help (at least a little bit). But I'm writing just as much to the 12-year-old girl crying in the dressing room as I am to the model who was fired because her BMI reached the normal range.

If you're so passionate about all this stuff, why are you going to be a teacher? 
Good question. If I'm this passionate about beauty distortion (and all the other creative, beautiful, performing arts topics), it makes a lot more sense for me to go into the fashion industry. Perhaps modeling, makeup design, or even skin care. Or what about the psychological industry? I've had friends tell me I should look into being a therapist or a social worker. And I do have so much respect for individuals in these professions. We need them now more than ever. But my personal issue with these professions regarding beauty distortion is that they all operate on the back end. The fashion industry has too many guidelines and limitations to make any real immediate progress, and psychologists and social workers alike both work to save individuals after they have fallen victim to such toxicity. I wanted to work on the front end.

It's not that I seek to put therapists and social workers out of business. It's that I hope less and less people will grow to need them. Teachers have a choice: they can create a factory out of their classroom, where students learn to read, write, solve equations, and memorize facts. Or, teachers can create a community where students feel valued, respected, intelligent, talented, and given attention for their abilities rather than their disabilities. A teacher is one of the few people left in society who has the job to enhance the personal gifts that each child is given while also developing some new ones. A teacher's primary job is to turn discouragement into faith, hope, and success. The more a child grows up knowing they are valued for everything they are rather than judged for everything they are not, the less we'll have to fight this toxic battle.

So why is this stuff so important? 
Because it affects everything we do. It affects our health: how much we starve, how much we diet, how much we work out. It affects our wallet: how much makeup we buy, what gym membership we upgrade to, and the medical/cosmetic treatments we splurge on. But perhaps most importantly, it affects our mindset. There are more important things in life than losing five pounds, but I know I forget that every day. There are more important things to do than make yourself "pretty." And there are more important things to remember... Like the fact that God made you the way you are in this very moment for a reason, and He doesn't make mistakes. I'm not saying you shouldn't treat the body He gave you with healthy care. But the more you try to alter it from its natural state, the more you're telling Him that you don't like the life He gave you. And He worked so hard on you...

It's important because we're beautiful, and we don't even know it.

My prayer for you, dear sister (or brother), is that with each and every post on this blog, you will begin to know it. Not only know how beautiful you are, but that you will begin to love how beautiful you are. Because you deserve it.

You deserve to be completely and unapologetically you.

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