12 January 2015

Pretty Hurts

This weekend has been rather thought provoking, I have seen and heard a number of things that have got the cogs turning in my head and I thought I would share my thoughts with you. The first was the Beyonce song 'Pretty Hurts' and the second was a Tumblr post. 

So often you hear a song on the radio and you enjoy it for its beat and catchy tune but you don't really listen to it and when you do, you occasionally come across a truly powerful song that really hits home, for me, Beyonce's 'Pretty Hurts' is one such song and the music video is even more hard hitting depicting women making themselves sick, depriving themselves of food and getting surgery all in the name of 'beauty'. The song is a commentary on the attitudes of society towards the way women and girls should present themselves and behave, and the damage this causes to their self esteems and body image in the long run. The music industry is often so often derogatory of women with so many songs making light of, and even glorifying serious problems women (and some men) face every day, such as rape and domestic violence and honestly, it was refreshing to listen to a song with such a great message, openly criticising the society we live in for its flaws and double standards. The following four verses were the ones that I really rang true for me:

"Mama said, "You're a pretty girl
What's in your head it doesn't matter
Brush your hair, fix your teeth
What you wear is all that matters
Perfection is a disease of a nation, pretty hurts, pretty hurts
Pretty hurts, we shine the light on whatever's worst
We try to fix something but you can't fix what you can't see
It's the soul that needs the surgery
Blonder hair, flat chest
TV says, "Bigger is better."
South beach, sugar free
Vogue says, "Thinner is better.
"It's my soul that needs surgery
Plastic smiles and denial can only take you so far
Then you break when the fake facade leaves you in the dark"

The media is constantly showing us women unattainable and conflicting images of 'beauty' that we could not possibly hope to live up to. We are led to believe that we should all look like Victoria's Secret models and the truth is that we can't, and that isn't a bad thing. So often in magazines there are 3 or more articles describing crash diets and ways to lose 10 pounds in 10 days for every article that 'teaches' women to feel more confident, embrace their bodies and love themselves and yet we are expected not to be affected by this bombardment of negativity. I looked at a few different covers of the same magazine and this seems to be a recurring theme: top right reads "243 ways to fall in love with your body" and "lose a stone in one month", top left reads "254 ways to red-hot body confidence" and "22 fast flat-tummy fixes", bottom right reads "how 5 woman go total body confidence" and "21 day inch loss plan" while bottom left mentions ways to lose weight and get a flatter stomach and doesn't even bother mentioning anything body positive.

This brings me onto the Tumblr post I saw, which reads as follows:

"You know when you stare at a word for so long it starts to not look like a word anymore, like something is wrong with it?
I think this is the same thing girls do to their bodies"

No one is born hating the way they look and by placing so much emphasis on quick, often unhealthy, ways to change your body and not enough emphasis on being yourself and loving what you look like causes damage that is hidden, hard to reverse and dangerous.  It is honestly so depressing to live in a world where you are so often called "vain" or "cocky" for liking the way you look and being confident in your own skin but are then told to "cheer up" and "love yourself more" when you feel insecure or down. A person can only take so much before they break.

There need to be more songs like "Pretty Hurts" out there and we need to realise that fat or thin, tall or short, we are all the same on the inside, we all bleed the same colour and we are all beautiful in our own unique way and that's what is so special about the human race. No two people are the same and this should be celebrated not resented. It's time society woke up and judged people not by their appearances but by their personalities and the things they do. Male or female we should all stand together and celebrate the differences between us that make us who we are.

Of course no one is going to have read this post and say 'oh yeah, you're right, I should love myself' and that be that, these things take time. But having said that, feeling pretty can be as simple as looking in the mirror, smiling at your reflecting and deciding to feel pretty. I have been unhappy with the way I look for almost as long as I can remember (bear in mind I'm only 15), always wanting to look like the girls I saw on TV and in magazines, until one day I realised that I only wanted to look like those girls because society told me I should, not because I actually wanted to look like that.