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The Ugly Truth About The Beauty Industry

Updated: Dec 29, 2021

I have never been very good at doing what I'm told and I would describe myself as a 'quietly rebellious' person, However I have to admit I have found myself, over the years, sucked in by the media, beauty and diet industries and the standards they use to define beauty, worth and attractiveness.

Now, despite being aware of how these industries manipulate us (mostly women) into striving for these 'ideal' qualities, I have lost count of the amount of diets I have gone on over the years, the money I have 'invested' in fitness and gym programmes to get the desired shape of the moment and the cosmetics I have bought promising to make me look 'glowing' and yes - 'younger'.

I was discussing this with a friend yesterday and it got me thinking about how those standards seem to be getting harder and harder to achieve as the decades go on.

So, let's start with the 80s (because why not?!).

In the 80s, it was enough to be slim. You didn't need to be particularly toned, or strong - just slim, Simple. I was a teenager then with the metabolism of a racehorse, so this required no effort on my part and by default I had this.

Then came the 'heroin chic' decade, the 90s, where it wasn't enough to be slim anymore. No - you had to be really, really, REALLY slim. Not just a sandwich short of a picnic, but a sandwich short of a sandwich. Sunken eyes, pale face, no curves, androgynous. You weren't allowed to smile either with this look, although you were probably too tired from caloric deficit to muster up the energy to smile anyway. I failed with this one as the lure of crisps, chips and chocolate won out - and I had hips!

The OOs (or the noughties) brought midriffs and Barbie boobs. Celebs like Jordan proudly sported enhanced watermelon cleavages and others like Victoria Beckham opted for more modest cantaloupes. Tops were cropped, so toned tummies became the order of the day. But something else was edging it's way into the frame too, casting a not insubstantial shadow in its wake - the bubblicious butt cheeks of J-Lo. So, we now had huge (or medium) stick-on boobs, flat and toned tummies and curvy butts to contend with. I decided to just focus on the boobs - with my Wonderbra, I could distract from the other two requirements - and this turned out to be quite a successful ploy!

The Tens (that sounds weird) chugged along much the same way, until the tweenies (even weirder) heralded the faintest hint of revolution. Sound the trumpets - yes, implants were getting smaller! And... that was about the extent of that. More of a whisper rather than a bang. Conversely, lips were getting bigger and implanted butts were derriere de rigeur - oh and let's not forget the longed for thigh gap sneaking in when no-one was looking. I still had the push-up bra, so was using the same tactic for this decade - I also developed a thigh gap due to having stress and anxiety. Two out of four aint bad!

So, now here we are at the start of the 20s - and what have we got? Yes, a global pandemic - let's state the obvious first. But the hangover from the late tens has brought with it quite the list of requirements. Women are now under pressure to have no less than:

1) Medium to large, full (yet natural looking) cleavages (yes, it's the fake real boob look).

2) Thighs with a slight gap, but not too much space as you still need to be able to crack walnuts between them - and of course they must be big enough to support the next item on the list...

3) A big bootay!! It's no longer enough to be able to bounce a dime off your butt cheeks - nope, now it's a wallet stuffed full of notes!

4) A teeny, weeny waist and concave abs - grab your waist trainer and hyperventilate yourself silly performing stomach vacuums!

5) Plump, pillowy, full lips - not so much trout pout as duck-billed platypus.

6) Eyebrows. Yes, even our eyebrows aren't safe from scrutiny.

For this decade I can still rock a push-up bra. Yep, that's about it!

Now, this is all said in a very light-hearted way and if this is your thing then honestly I wish you well - and if you naturally have all of these attributes, I still wish you well (through gritted teeth and a distinctly green-hued face).

My gripe is that, for most of us, these targets are simply unachievable, unattainable and unsustainable - unless we go down the surgery/implant/filler routes or damage our knees and spines whilst dead-lifting and squatting twice our body weight.

My hope for the 20s is a not-so-subtle shift in my thinking - gently and calmly taking my power back. How dare the media and diet and beauty industries tell ME how I need to look in order to be attractive!? I no longer need to subscribe to their money-making ploys that serve to make me feel inferior so I feel the need to invest more and more money and time in 'improving' myself.

Now I'm not saying I'm going completely au naturale, or throwing away my favourite mascara. I don't plan on growing out my underarm hair and the world is not yet ready to see me walking to the shops in my bean-stained, baggy pjs (although I did once go to the Co-op in my nightie, but that's another story). But beauty is subjective and I will do it MY WAY. You do you, beauty industry - and I'll do me!

I want a strong, healthy, fit body. I want to be in the healthy weight range for my height. I want to be flexible, mobile and have balance and poise. I want a sustainable exercise regime that doesn't damage my joints and spine to achieve a 'fashionable' look. I want make up that enhances my features, not changes them. I have flaws and wrinkles that tell the story of my life - I don't want fillers or Botox to erase them.

And I HAVE all those things, and despite not conforming to someone else's standards, I am meeting my own.

For the first time ever, I can tick off all the boxes. MY boxes. I am quietly rebelling and choosing to go my own way.

Vive La Revolution, Vive La Difference!

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