In a world that is obsessed with image, in a society that has strong expectations of what it means to be beautiful, it’s very easy to compare yourself and see a number of ways that you come up short. You’re shit out of luck if you don’t easily fit in to the constraints of what everyone thinks as the correct way to look (unless you resort to surgery or other extreme measures).
Cameron Russell has been a model for over 10 years and in her honest and raw TED talk she cuts the B.S. – she is what mainstream Western culture defines as ‘beautiful’; she admits she has won the genetic lottery and benefits a lot from it. On the flip-side though, while everyone thinks her life is ‘perfect’, she deals with insecurities on a daily basis from being constantly scrutinised for how she looks. Being ‘beautiful’ has not brought her instant happiness.
Then there is everyone else out there who doesn’t look like her. So many peoples’ lives are impacted negatively simply because they don’t fit into that mould.
This really resonated with me on a number of levels. Firstly, obviously it’s a cluster-fuck being a female today and trying to compete with all of the ‘perfect’ Instagram models out there (don’t bother).
Secondly, this made me think about society’s other expectations of people – like what success looks like, what happiness looks like, how we should live our lives. Why should anyone be judged negatively because they don’t mirror this?
I’ve tried fitting into the mould and it hasn’t brought me happiness. It’s bought me confusion – because everything you learn as a kid growing up leads you to think that when you get to these amazing milestones, like graduating from university, having a ‘good’ job, and a ‘successful career’ you will be happy. But if you get there and you’re not?
So I’m now thinking, “Ok so this didn’t make me feel as fulfilled as I thought it would. What now?” I obviously have to take a road less travelled, which I know will be met with concerned looks, questions and general concerns for my welfare.
But it’s got to be worth it right? Society’s expectations can’t fit everyone. We are all different, we are all unique. There’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for a happy, fulfilled life.
I think if everyone learnt this lesson (even just a little bit), the world might be a better, more accepting, and happy place.
Fuck it, I’ll give that a go and see how it turns out anyway.