I'll admit it: I'm as susceptible as any woman to the pressure to be perfect. I read magazines. I watch television. And most perilous of all, I live in Los Angeles. While eating disorders and an unhealthy obsession with eternal youth are clearly nationwide issues, we who live in the City of Airbrushed Angels are probably a little more prone to these maladies. It doesn't take much more than a stroll down Robertson Blvd. or dinner on the Sunset Strip to make us keenly aware of our physical imperfections. I say it's high time we liberate ourselves.
Certainly we all know by now that nobody's physically flawless. We've heard about the de rigueur airbrushing for celebrity photo shoots; we've seen the viscous "best and worst bikini bods" tabloid covers at the supermarket. Yet that doesn't keep us from holding ourselves to a ridiculous standard of beauty. And who set that standard, anyway? When did narrow hips and flat tummies become so coveted? Does it strike anyone else as ridiculous that so many adult female models essentially have the figures of 14-year-old boys?
I predictably wasted way too much time in my twenties comparing myself to other, thinner women, lamenting the fact that my butt wasn't smaller, my thighs weren't skinnier. Now that I'm in my thirties, I'm pretty much over it. I maintain a healthy weight and my body is strong. And oh yeah, I think I look pretty damn good. What's even cooler is that this body gave birth to a healthy (nine-pound!) baby boy three years ago. The fact that my stomach will never be quite the same is pretty insignificant in comparison to what I've gained.
Of course, now that I'm a little older, I have aging skin to contend with. And boy, are there plenty of products and procedures vying for the opportunity to help me with this "problem." How often are we faced with advertisements for "anti-aging" products? Think about it; the very concept is absurd. We either age, or we die. I saw an ad recently - it may have been for laser skin resurfacing or some such cosmetic procedure - with the slogan "parentheses don't belong on your face." Apparently, we're supposed to be ashamed of our smile lines now. How depressing is that? (Depressing enough to keep those smile lines at bay, I suppose.) Imagine how freeing it would be if we all learned to appreciate our lines for what they are: proof of a life lived fully, of being happy, sad, amused, angry, concerned, coy, flirty, loving, determined, stubborn, confrontational, thoughtful, and the myriad emotions and expressions in between. With this in mind, we might be less determined to erase them by injecting some foreign substance into our faces or burning them off with a laser.
We can do ourselves another favor by reevaluating the way we look at cellulite. This "condition" has long been treated as a malady in the beauty industry. God knows the countless millions or billions of dollars that have been made by companies hocking expensive - and useless - treatments for something that is as natural and inevitable for many women as having breasts and a vagina. Shouldn't the fact that most women, regardless of shape, size or lifestyle, share this physical trait be a sign that this is something that should finally just be accepted? Especially given the fact that there is still essentially no permanent and effective treatment for cellulite: A healthy diet and regular exercise are still your best bet, and even that is not going to get rid of it completely.
This isn't to say that I haven't cursed my own dimples on plenty of occasions. But I've had enough candid conversations with my girlfriends and seen enough un-retouched photos of celebrities to know that even those women who appear to be flawless are just as human - and subject to the inevitability of genetics - as the rest of us.
I think Diablo Cody said it best when she was interviewed for BUST magazine: "I have no shame about nudity, and I feel like nudity is confrontational in a way. Maybe the world needs to see a size-10 woman naked. Maybe they need to see my cellulite...I have big hips and big thighs. And you have to look at me." Amen, sister.
Note: This article has also been published on Los Angeles spa and wellness blog ChillOutLA.com.