The Impossible Standard

We live in a world of ideals. Society has created specifications that we feel we must meet, and if we can’t then we are inferior and we fall short. Many people call it an ‘impossible standard’, and they’re right. Because if we are the sort of people who compare ourselves to others, then we will always be comparing ourselves to others. And we will always find fault when we look in the mirror.

My self-esteem fluctuates, but generally it’s fairly low. I’m extremely critical of my body and I often wish it was different. My lack of confidence saddens my husband because he regularly compliments me and he wishes I would see myself in a more positive light. But I feel unable to, and I blame society. I blame the media. I blame the image they’ve collectively created of what beauty looks like. I look around me and see a standard set for everything imaginable, every aspect of body and face and clothing and makeup and hair…you name it.

But should I really blame the media? I mean, sure, they contribute to this impossible standard of perfection. But what choice do they have? Shops want to sell their products, so they advertise in a way they know will work. I can blame them all I want, but they’ll probably never change. And even if they did, would it make a difference to what I see as the ideal? Would it change how I see myself when I look in the mirror? I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t. Why? Because it’s not up to them how I see myself. My opinion of myself comes from deep within me, and if I want to change it then I need to change my own personal view of what beauty is. I can blame society all I like but it won’t make me feel better.

I have a beautiful daughter. She’s very little, at that blissful childhood time where she is as yet unaffected by the crippling standard the world sets for her. I look at her and I think she is so beautiful, and not just because she’s adorable and cute-looking. She’s beautiful because she has the most infectious laugh, the cheekiest smile. She has a very kind and gentle nature. She’s sweet and loving. She’s got a sensitive spirit. She wipes away my tears when I cry. She kisses me better if I’m hurt. She’s so happy and it radiates from her like sunlight. These are the things that in my eyes make her so incredibly beautiful and special.

So it’s simple really. I need to somehow look at myself with the same eyes I look at her with. I need to look in the mirror and try to see the things that really matter. I need to recognise that I am probably a big part of the reason my daughter is who she is, because I’m who she interacts with most. So is it possible that she learned some of what makes her beautiful from me?

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