Posted by: Katie Baron on Monday, May 4, 2015 Comments (0)
On Saturday morning, I checked Facebook and discovered there was a new princess in the world. Then I saw this post from an old favorite show:
Along with many of the other commenters, my first reaction was “Who the hell cares?”
Here, Her Royal Highness Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, had just labored for hours to push a baby out of her body (and after suffering from and being hospitalized with hyperemesis gravidarum—a debilitating, extreme, longer-term version of morning sickness). And yet no mention of her difficult pregnancy. No congratulations to her and her boys. No comments on what a miracle it is that, once again, a woman has GROWN A HUMAN BEING.
Just people wondering what she’ll look like when she emerges from the hospital.
So often in our culture, the focus on women is primarily—or even solely—on their appearances rather than their accomplishments. The heart of what really matters is barely covered, although, more and more, the brave female celebrities who deal with this judgment on a constant, very public basis are speaking up and pointing out the ridiculousness of it all. It’s sad that they have to, but I’m grateful they are.
And that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to sit idly by. I just couldn’t stew in my frustration over the Facebook post, so I decided I had to respond:
And when that didn’t feel like enough, I decided to write this blog post, too.
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As an Empowerment and Find-Your-Voice coach, my passion is helping people discover who they are, where they want to go, and feel confident as they speak up, make decisions, and take action.
I tend to focus on the things people say and do, but I fully admit that their appearance can play a significant part, too; you could see the effect at the end of just about every “What Not to Wear” makeover. What always struck me wasn’t how they looked (although that was fun to see), but how the women acted differently during the reveal—how they stood more boldly, how they admired their reflections in the mirror, how they talked about themselves with the love and respect they deserved. It’s like each woman had come home to herself, and THAT was what made every single one of them beautiful.
This constant obsessing over what women are wearing and the expectation that they should look perfect all the time isn’t going away any time soon. But if women can manage to drown out the judgment and pressure coming at them and instead dress for themselves, wearing whatever makes them feel confident, proud, and like they’re showing their true selves to the world, that’s what really matters.
And I have no idea—maybe Kate loves fashion, and it’s fun for her to figure out what she’ll wear both for her daily outings and for big events; if that’s the case, more power to her! I have nothing against fashion and people wanting to look and feel beautiful. It’s just that, as a culture, our fixation on the unrealistic, inescapable standards of beauty can seriously affect women’s physical and emotional health, relationships, and even their work and financial situations.
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There are a million ways to be beautiful, so let’s focus on the actions and achievements themselves and let go of the need to look perfect throughout the process. Let’s see true beauty as someone who does good in the world, even if it’s something seemingly small, like saying a kind word to a stranger in the grocery store. Someone who speaks up for what’s right even when speaking up isn’t the easiest thing to do. Someone who loves with an open mind and an open heart.
And let’s remember that there’s no one way we all have to look, speak, or live our lives, regardless of what our culture implies. Each of us is on our own, personal journey in this world, and that means we’re the only ones who can possibly know which direction we should go in—or what we should wear as we’re making our way down that winding road.