Today, I would like to introduce you to my sister. Her name is Renée, but we loved to call her “crotte de Renée” which sounds like booger in French. But she forgave me for all of this once I started working in the cosmetics industry and would bring home a crazy amount of samples for us to try together when I would come visit. We have an age difference of 7 years, and I love seeing her roll her eyes at people who ask us which is the oldest or if we’re twins!
At this point, the little sister/big sister age gap seemed to shrink and we had become really close. During this one visit, she had her own loot she was excited to show me. I didn’t realize it then, but this moment changed the course of my life. As my teenage sister told me all about her new cellulite cream, I was horrified. “Why the heck did you buy that?!! You don’t have cellulite!!!” I told her. And she didn’t. But she didn’t believe me. She was just sure she had something that needed fixing. And I was furious. Furious that she couldn’t see what I saw and furious that she had somehow been brainwashed into believing this nonsense.
It honestly took me a few years to sort things out after this moment because it turns out, I was brainwashed too. Here is what I realized:
1. It dawned on me that every time I looked at a new product at work to find its selling features, I would immediately think of all the things I had been taught needed “fixing” about women. Wrinkles, grey hair, dark circles, blemishes… Every time I wanted to make someone feel “good” about themeselves, I had to remind them about a lie they had been sold a long time ago first. And that sucked. I ended up leaving the beauty industry by the time I was 25 and vowed that I’d never use marketing to make anyone feel bad ever again.
2. I slowly started to question all the things I thought needed fixing about me. It’s one thing for those who don’t have cellulite to worry about it, but what about those of us who do? Could the idea that cellulite is a flaw be a lie? And wrinkles and grey hair and blemishes? I realized they are ALL lies. I started looking at other women with new eyes and instead of critiquing what needed fixing about them, I started embracing the amazing diversity of faces and bodies out there.
But yet, I still struggle with the idea of wanting to fix myself despite knowing this truth. Some days, I feel like I’m rockin’ it and that if the world can’t deal with me the way I am, than it can just take a hike. But other days the idea of fixing all those little “flaws” just feels so much safer. Easier.
I’m thankful that I’ve somehow developped a really compassionate inner voice that forgives me for not being that confident version of myself all the time. She tells me that I look just fine, but that if that undereye concealer will help me feel more confident taking on the world today, then I shouldn’t beat myself up about it because this self-acceptance thing can be hard, and I’m still kicking butt even if it doesn’t always feel like it. Two steps forward, one step back. Whether you run or take baby steps, you’re still getting somewhere.
One thing the inner voice and I agree on completely though is my golden rule for marketing: always skip the part where you poke at people’s insecurities and just go straight to helping them feel good.
How are you doing on this whole self-acceptance dance? Have you found a bit more love for a “flawed” part of yourself in recent years? What do you think is beautiful about you? My recent win against the brainwashing machine is that I love my grey hair. And although it has been suggested to me that I have all the moles on my face removed, I like them just fine thank you very much.