By Lisa Sugarman
My forehead is just too damn high. I wish I had more thigh gap. This Bohemian-looking curly hair is throwing me over the edge. Why can’t I be just two inches taller? I wish I had thicker eyebrows. If only my index toe looked a little less like a finger and a little more like a toe.
If you’re a girl, or, for that matter, a guy who has a wife or a daughter or a sister or a girlfriend, then you’re either saying or hearing things like this on a pretty regular basis.
That’s because, according to the Dove beauty products company, only four percent of women around the world consider themselves beautiful. I say again, only four itty-bitty percent. That leaves another ninety-six percent who think they’re somehow flawed. And as far as I’m concerned, as the mother of two daughters and a girls cross country coach, that s**t’s gotta stop.
I see it every day, girls beating themselves up about everything that they aren’t instead of celebrating all the beautiful things that they are. I see it with my daughters. I see it with my friends. I see it with strangers. Because, in addition to writing, I work in a school where I see it constantly. And it’s sad. It’s sad because if we siphoned off even a fraction of the time we spent feeling inadequate and repurposed it to honor the things that make us unique and beautiful, we’d put the anti-depressant drug companies out of business. Because, in the same way that muscle weighs three times more than fat; praise weighs at least three times more than criticism.
Look, I’m sure it would take very little effort for me to write eight hundred words about the things I wish I could change about myself. In fact, I’ll bet you cash money that none of us would have a problem scribbling down a whole list of things we’d like to transform.
But be honest, doesn’t it seem a little absurd to you that most of us focus on everything that’s wrong with us instead of everything that makes us beautiful? Because, when you think about it, conflict, at its roots, stems from unhappy people. And if people could just learn to be happy in their own skins, I think they’d be less inclined to bitch about, well, everything else. Cause in case you haven’t noticed, it’s very rare to find a truly happy person who’s also a complainer.
You and I both know that most of us spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over the things we wish we could change and not nearly enough time celebrating the things that make us the beautiful people we are. That’s because, somewhere back in history, some moron decided to come up with the phrase nobody’s perfect. And while that’s absolutely, one hundred percent true, I think it may’ve caused almost all of humanity to try to prove that wrong and be the first.
It’s just too bad that way back in the beginning, mankind didn’t interpret it the other way around and feel relieved by the idea that perfect is unattainable. I honestly think it would’ve taken all the pressure off every one to try to measure up.
See, I know it’s become human nature to dissect ourselves, no matter how centered or grounded we are. We just can’t help it. Even in spite of our best efforts to withstand the temptation, we’re all more or less incapable of shutting off the urge to focus on our flaws. And I think that’s just because everywhere we turn there are always people around us who we just keep comparing ourselves to, even when we know we shouldn’t.
We start out doing it as kids, always measuring ourselves against the faster or taller or prettier or smarter or more popular kids. And we keep doing it as adults, constantly comparing ourselves to the people we work with, or our friends, or our neighbors. Too many people have this crazy-looking yardstick that they measure everything against—one that measures things like stuff and status instead of heart and soul and inner beauty. To me, it seems like ninety-nine times out of a hundred the things we beat ourselves up about are actually the things that the rest of the world loves about us. Ironic, isn’t it?
Let’s do this… every time we get the urge to diss ourselves, do what George did on Seinfeld and reverse it. Do the opposite. Force yourself to replace the diss with something positive. It worked for George. His entire ridiculous life turned around and everything started going his way. So I feel like it’s got a good chance of catching on for the rest of us.
So repeat after me, I feel pretty, oh, so pretty. I feel pretty and witty and bright! And I pity any girl (or boy) who isn’t me tonight.
There, now doesn’t that feel better?