Near the end of Marilyn Monroe’s life, cinematographer Leon Shamroy, was quoted as saying to reporter Ezra Goodman:“When you analyze Marilyn, she is not good looking. She has a bad posture, bad nose and her figure is too obvious. She has a bad profile.”
It’s amazing to me that we feel we have the right to discount someone else’s success because of their appearance. Even Marilyn Monroe was not exempt. Do beauty and success have to be positively correlated? If someone is successful but not beautiful (in the eyes of the consumer), what does that mean? Does it make their success less meaningful or less deserved?
I can’t even stand on a pedestal and say “Anyone who does this is a bad person” because I’ve done it. I’ll admit it. I’ve looked at an actor or someone in the spotlight and thought to myself, occasionally out loud, “they’re not even pretty.”
IT’S INSANITY! Because when we say this sort of junk about other people, we start thinking it about ourselves. We start scrutinizing our own appearance and start believing that beauty does determine success. This is all the more damaging if we don’t think we’re beautiful.
Do You Think You’re Beautiful?
The Beauty Company released this breakdown in June 2012 (imagine how much it’s grown since then):
- $426 billion – the total sales of beauty and personal care items in 2011
- $13 billion – the amount the 18,000 spa facilities in the USA made in 2011
- 20 minutes – the amount of time the average woman spends putting on makeup
- $15,000 – the average amount of money a woman will spend on makeup in her lifetime.
- 82% of women surveyed believe wearing makeup made them feel more self-confident
In Lois Banner’s book “Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox,” she says that Marilyn would spend hours getting ready in the morning. This is one of the reasons she was often late to set. She also said that “Marilyn rarely allowed herself to be photographed in profile and she kept control over all proof sheets produced of her. If she didn’t like a proof, she would cross it out.”
It’s a never-ending cycle. Make fun of someone else’s appearance, and then obsess and feel insecure about our own… and then make fun of someone else’s appearance. It’s no wonder so many of us are stuck.
Meanwhile, we’re posting pictures like this:
Where did this obsession with our bodies come from? I can almost guarantee that every woman in these photos, at some point, thought that they weren’t beautiful.
And then there’s the wording: “When did this become hotter than this?”
Our worth is not based on our weight and sex appeal!
The fact that we believe this to be true (and we do) is absolute insanity. And we fuel this insanity in ourselves and others every time we buy into the lie. We are the ones who allow this belief to continue.
“There was a time… when my self worth was entirely contingent upon my ability to starve. A strange equation and an altogether too common belief: ones worth is exponentially increased with one’s incremental disappearance. I had to learn to love the thump of my steps, the implication of weight and presence and taking of space.” (Wasted – Marya Hornbacher)
The quote you just read was written by a woman who suffered from anorexia and bulimia growing up. But even if you don’t struggle with an eating disorder, I bet that most women could resonate with this quote.
We need to learn to love the thump of our step. The way our hips sway as we walk. We have to learn to embrace our femininity, whatever the shape of our bodies. We have to start embracing our own unique beauty. And not because it’s going to make some other girl jealous, or because it’s going to attract the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend, but because our bodies, our beauty, are a large part of who we are. And it’s okay to own that. It’s okay to start thinking of ourselves as beautiful.
Conceit versus Ego
Using this language (I am beautiful) doesn’t make you conceited. It’s only conceited if you think you’re more beautiful than everyone else. But you should have an ego about the space you take up in this world, and about the way your hair curls behind your ears. Having an ego only means that you believe in yourself, and that’s not a bad thing.
This girl in this video believes in herself. Imperfections and all. She has ego, and isn’t she beautiful?
About seven months ago, I volunteered at the lululemon half marathon. All of these people in the photograph below are dancing. I remember watching these women with envy. The way they moved and let go. The girl in the white tank top in the middle of the photograph knew she was beautiful. My eyes were drawn to her that day because of the way she allowed her inhibitions to slide away as she let the music relax her mind and shimmy through her core.
She was having fun moving in her body. She was having fun being her. Because if you can’t be comfortable in your own body, where can you be comfortable?
Marilyn was beautiful. I am beautiful. You are beautiful. Let’s own our beauty and start recognizing and appreciating the beauty in others. Imperfections – they’re just another way that we’re focusing on the negative. Let’s start focusing on the positive.