Body image. And positive body image. It's not just to do with size and shape. Many other things come in to play when people look at themselves and think: God, what is that?
Two things that I'm particularly happy with, but so many people complain about, are my freckles and curly hair.
Growing up, I never thought freckles were a bad thing. They were just part of me. Then I got to high-school and other girls started to complain about their freckles. In the later years I had a friend, where I found that 'brightening' cream in her bathroom. The stuff that's supposed to remove 'sun imperfections'. We were seventeen for chrissake! Wear sunscreen if you are worried, but that should also be to prevent, oh I don't know, Cancer. If you have skin anything like mine, freckles are inevitable. And they're beautiful.
The magazines didn't help - well, they were better with this than other stuff, but still - with their quotes of
"Don't try to cover freckles with extra layers of foundation."and
"Stop trying to hide freckles, (such'n'such a brand) has even released a freckle pencil for girls without." What?
Those are positive messages, but they imply that there were previously negative ideas. Hmm. I've stopped reading these magazines (in detail), so I'm not sure about what the current opinion is. Flawless skin is always the ideal anyway. While I assume it just means pimples, maybe I'm so confident that my freckles are gorgeous that it means them too.
Curls are the same. I grew up with crazy hair. Not curly, just crazy. Then at sixteen, a hairdresser told me I had wonderful curls. Really? I thought. A couple of weeks later I went with a friend to get her hair done and that hairdresser told me I shouldn't brush my hair dry because it ruined the curl. I took her word for it, and suddenly I had curly hair! And I was so happy because my hair wasn't supposed to be sleek and shiny.
There are lots of similar stories on naturallycurly.com, some quite saddening. I've kind of gotten to the point of caring for my hair that when I see Mum, or she calls, she asks:
"How's the hair?"
I'm at a good place with these two aspects of my body, but I hope there are many more others out there who are happy with freckles and curly hair. Or other beautiful things that the world doesn't generally hold up to be Perfect.