As a young, white woman, I am constantly under the gaze of society’s standard of beauty. Is my hair long enough? Is my skin dark/light enough? Am I too fat? Am I too skinny? The list goes on and on. As a young teenager, I dealt with extremely low self-esteem, as did so many of my girl friends, because in some way or another we didn’t fit the definition of “beautiful”. Too many of my close friends fell ill to eating disorders because they were told they were too fat. Too many of my friends were diagnosed with other mental illnesses because they ran themselves ragged trying to be “pretty” enough for the boys. I was not excluded from that.
I had so many problems with my body. I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror, naked or clothed. I wore loose, baggy clothes so no one could see the rolls on my belly. I kept my hair long so my face looked slim, so no one could see my ears (I have small ears and as very self-conscious about them growing up). Eventually, I took to cutting my arms and legs; I was torturing myself on the inside. I just wanted to be “beautiful”.
About two years ago, with the help of a close friend, I realized that these standards I was trying so hard to reach were completely unattainable (read: total bullshit), and that was okay. So, to break free of the chains I had shackled to myself, I got a pixie haircut. I felt so confident. I started wearing clothes that looked flattering on me. I joined a local theater and started acting. I broke free.
I realized that “beauty” is finite, but I am infinite. There are so many possibilities for my body, for my mind. I can make my own rules. Recently, I dyed my hair purple. I can’t tell you how much better I feel. I am so confident, I actually willingly posted pictures of myself on my social media accounts. And it made me feel so good to see all the comments, telling me I looked gorgeous, that I looked so confident, and it meant the world to me. Those chains that held me, they were finite. Society is finite. I am infinite.