Do You Like You?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Colbie Caillat’s music video for her new song “Try” has hit headlines.

In it, Colbie and others are shown in full make up and photoshopped, before the alterations are removed and all are stripped down to their natural looks. No photoshop, no make up.

The lyrics talk about not forcing yourself into an image of perfection, not trying to be skinny, not wearing make up, and just liking you for who you are. It is empowering and it is a beautiful message.

It is a message I don’t give to my own daughter, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t wear masses of make up, usually just mascara, and I don’t wear hair extensions or false nails. But I do fuss about my appearance, and I do think about my weight.

I go to the gym two or three times a week, and try to swim every day. I take Miss Rose into the pool with me and before I go I weigh myself. I keep a running BMI monitor on my phone. When my weight drops too low I eat more to push it up. When my weight goes up suddenly (which after today’s chocolate binge it will) I take steps to correct it the following day. I aim to keep an average which I’m comfortable with.

Miss Rose now gets on the scales. She looks down at the screen then looks at me. I tell her it says “Beautiful” or “Perfect”. She smiles and gets off, then we go to the pool.

So my current pondering is this… what do I do?

I agree with Colbie Caillat. You don’t have to try to be beautiful because you are. Because everyone is different, and everyone should be comfortable with who they are, and people should not try and conform to standards that are impossible. Because photoshopped images of Beyoncé, of Katy Perry, of Rihanna and Scarlett Johansen, these images are impossible and they are not real. They are impossible to achieve even for the women they are of. I don’t want Miss Rose to see me putting on my mascara, putting up my hair, doing my exercises, and thinking that if I don’t do those things that I am ugly, thinking if she doesn’t do them that she’s ugly. Because I’m not, and she isn’t.

But equally so I am a big believer in a healthy diet, in exercising, and that if you feel better for a bit of make up that you should wear it. I feel best with my hair up, my mascara on, and averaging at my favourite weight. When I feel my best, I feel able to face the world and achieve my best. So, is that wrong?

There has to be a happy medium. There has to be a way I can teach Miss Rose that it’s okay to look after yourself, to be slim, to wear make up, without losing yourself to the insane pressure the beauty industry puts on women. I need to figure out how to raise her to know that what matters most is who she is, not how she looks, but at the same time it is okay to care about how you look.

How to find that balance? I don’t know. And it worries me. If she has learned to stand on the scales and wait for approval at 18 months, what’s next? Have I started her on a cycle that I will lose control over once she understands what it is she’s checking?

I will strive to teach her. I will strive to infuse her with so much self confidence and self worth that being healthy is her goal. Not being perfect.

Being healthy is aspirational. Being perfect is impossible.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

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