Attainable Beauty

Recently, I was reading an article about how photographers and artists are now airbrushing to ADD pounds to models instead of taking them off.  The voluptuous look has risen in popularity and is now being recognized as a standard in the fashion industry.  As I read this article, my first reaction was pleasure at the thought that the fashion industry is paying more attention to the majority rather than the minority of the female population. 

But as I continued to think about it, I realized that airbrushing pounds ON is no better than airbrushing pounds OFF.  Why are we so concerned with photoshopping/airbrushing models?  Why can’t we just leave them the way that they are?  Why is this society so obsessed with perfection that we are willing to fake photos? 

Now, being a plus size model myself, I know that some of my pictures have been changed.  I’ve had a few wrinkles brushed out and lighting changed a little.  But in general, I look very much like my photos because I don’t believe in not being who you are.  I do understand when it is necessary to airbrush out a wrinkle on a dress or maybe fix the lighting or background.  But when you are smoothing out the skin so it is completely flawless and making the model look like a mannequin, then that takes it out of the sphere of reality to fantasy.  That kind of beauty is not attainable, no matter how much money you spend. 

We all tend to grow increasingly more depressed with each passing year as we fall shorter and shorter of the ideal of perfection.  The cliché phrase “Shoot for the stars and you will land on the mountaintops” doesn’t always happen.  We often set our expectations so high that when we don’t reach our goals, we grow increasingly more miserable with each failure.  Life and age will take their toll on EVERY person and we should be looking at those wrinkles, age spots and even a few extra pounds as hallmarks of a life well-lived, not something to denigrate and criticize. 

Of course, I realize that the search for youth, beauty, and perfection is as old as the legend of the Fountain of Youth.  So what I’m saying now is certainly not an original thought.  But what I’ve hit upon is something that I think most will agree with.  Instead of shooting for perfection, I think what we should be aiming for is “attainable” beauty.  We know when we roll out of bed in the morning in our pj’s that we are not looking our best.  For me, it takes a shower, hair styling, and make up to feel comfortable to face the world.  But I’ve become comfortable and happy in my own skin and with my own beauty.  I know that I’m not perfect, nor am I trying to be.  Instead, I look at products and fashion as a means to an end in helping me achieve the “attainable” look that I want. 

So maybe instead of seeking society’s idea of perfection, we would be happier seeking goals that are attainable.  Just a thought to chew on. 




From Wallflower to Plus Size Model

“Reflection” by Mulan

Who is that girl I see

Staring straight back at me?

Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?

Somehow, I cannot hide

Who I am though I’ve tried.

When will my reflection show

Who I am inside?

Who is that woman, indeed?

Most of my younger life, I was the girl who held up the walls while I watched my friends dance.  Always on the fringe of the crowd, I was your classic nerd: quiet, painfully shy, the one who always had her nose buried in a book. I had thick, unruly, chestnut-colored hair, glasses and freckles. We didn’t have much money and I often wore my older sisters’ hand-me-downs (though I think my mother would rain down hailstones on me from heaven if I didn’t acknowledge that I had some new clothes as well.)  I was the ultimate wallflower.

For so many years, I stared into the mirror looking at my reflection with a variety of reactions: distaste, a cringe, occasional satisfaction, but mainly… a great many sighs.  Like many plus size women, I was always ashamed of my body and weight.  I often felt that somehow it was my weight that held me back from good jobs, happy relationships and even a better life.  I avoided mirrors, unless I was trying on clothes in a dressing room.  Most of the time, I would stare into the mirror, feeling utterly unattractive.  It was a rare occasion when I found pleasure looking at my reflection.

Fortunately, over the passing years and with the aid of family and friends, I began to discover small slivers of confidence. The first petals of the flower began to unfold. First it was my intelligence, then my style, and finally, I began to embrace my beauty….both the inner and the outer.

With the encouragement of several men and women, I’ve just recently embarked on the journey of becoming a plus size model.  Finally, in my 41st year, I am celebrating the life of a courageous woman. Though I have much life yet to learn and to live, I am finally at peace with who I am and who I still have yet to become. There are trials still yet to be conquered, old negative fears that must still be hushed, and challenges that have yet to be faced. But with each step, the petals continue to unfold and the wallflower is blossoming.

Who is that woman indeed?  This is a question I’m still answering, but with each passing day, the answers are becoming clearer.