Photo credit: Emma Wondra Photography "I’m starting to worry that my friends are prettier than me."
In the same way you see someone and think, I wish I could look like them, someone sees your smile or hair or style and wishes they could look like you.
Lately, I feel like a failure with body positivity.
I’ve been experiencing a lot of physical changes these past few months, so all in all it really isn’t surprising, but this is a new sort of insecurity I’m not used to. It’s embarrassing and strangely isolating but it’s also something I believe a lot of people go through, and it deserves to be discussed.
I’m starting to worry that my friends are prettier than me.
Now, I’m fully aware that this is a ridiculous and petty thing to be worried about. All things considered, I’m a pretty good-looking dude — if not strangely coifed and freakishly tall. I’m proud of my jawline and my collarbones, both of which I didn’t really have until 2013, and I’ve cultivated a unique style that I’ve grown to adore.
However, my closest friends in this town are model-gorgeous. This isn’t just a metaphor, a lot of my closest friends are people who get paid to professionally look transcendentally attractive. Those of my close friends who aren’t models are usually photographers, who basically have the skill to make others look transcendentally attractive.
Also, my photographer friends are all pretty hot too.
While it’s wonderful to know so many kind people who also happen to be one-way tickets to Babe City, it’s also a very intimidating thing. Seeing group photos on Instagram, I find myself worrying I don’t look good enough.
While everyone else looks effortlessly stunning, I’m stuck with an eye half closed and an awkward smile that looks like I’d just begun to smell a fart at the moment of the flash.
At this moment you may find yourself thinking: Matt, you gorgeous colorful lighthouse of a human being, isn’t the point of body positivity expressing the idea that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to one another? Isn’t the unique beauty within each and every one of us the very essence of positive self-image?
Wow. Colorful choice of words there, hypothetical person.
I wholeheartedly agree, but therein lies the problem: You see, even though loving our own one-of-a-kind beauty and refusing to compare ourselves is how we should be, it isn’t how we are.
I don’t believe it’s in our nature to compare how we look to someone else, but it’s definitely in our “nurture.” From a young age, people (especially women) are constantly taught that we’re in competition with one another. Whether it’s our grades, our social status, our economic status, or those creepy beauty pageants for 6 year olds, we’re immediately thrust into a world where we’re taught to view everyone as adversarial to a certain degree.
Even with all that, we're only talking about general systemic issues. That doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the litany of personal issues we all face individually. In some way, shape, or form, every person is living in the aftermath of a series of difficult personal experiences that forever changed the way they see themselves.
This unfortunate truth is an integral part of life, and while it typically makes us stronger and wiser than we were before, it also fucks us up in a lot of ways.
I have a deeply rooted fear that I’m incapable of being what someone wants. This comes as the result of years of rejection as a young adult when I was twice my current weight, as well a series of bad relationships that left me afraid to reach out for a long time.
So, trying to be a person who’s living with insecurities, in a society where we’re raised to constant weigh our value against someone else’s, how do we overcome this need to compare ourselves to others for good?
Short answer? We don’t.
We don’t ever really overcome anything, when it comes to our personalities.
Those insecurities stay with us forever, and unfortunately that feeling of am I good enough? in the pit of your stomach will always pull at your insides. Body positivity and positive self image are a conscious effort that takes work and energy — and some days you just don’t have that in you.
As I’ve gotten to know these friends more and more, they’ve become far more three-dimensional. I think with people (especially the “conventionally attractive”) we have a tendency to idealize them, to make them seem either more perfect or more shallow than they actually are. We approach their looks as though they’re marble statues in a museum or thin veneers for what we assume is a vapid personality.
In reality, they’re just people, people who live the same rich inner life that we do. People who fall in love and fuck up and make memories and lose loved ones.
Remember earlier when I said that there are personal issues we all face individually? That goes for those beautiful people you look up to, as well.
The babes and the foxes, the cuties and the dashing, they’ve all got their own struggles that they deal with as well — and they are no more or less valuable than you just because their difficulties are less obvious than yours are.
The strangest thing, I’ve found, is how universal this feeling is. On several occasions I’ve had people I’ve known online — stunning, wonderful people — tell me how beautiful they think I am and how they wish they could live up to my standards.
Which, by the way, is the strangest fucking thing I’ve ever heard. My “standards” include not washing my hair for several days and having to check my face for chocolate ice cream-related stains.
Though it can be difficult to find the beauty in yourself that you do in others, know this:
In the same way you look at the beautiful girl with the dyed hair or the dude with the piercing eyes, in the same way you see someone and think, I wish I could look like them, someone sees your smile or hair or style and wishes they could look like you.
None of us are better than the other — we’re just different. None of us are more beautiful than the other. We’re just beautiful in our own way.
None of us matter more than anyone else; we are all important.