Short or long. Curly or straight. Good or bad. Fat or skinny. Tall or short. One or the other. We compare all the time. Slowly destroying ourselves, we pick apart each other until there are only pieces of a person left standing. The comparer and compared are no different – incomplete and inadequate.
Comparison can be used to express the relationship between people, places or things. Comparison can be used to highlight the differences and similarities in order to admire or pay tribute. Comparison in its truest form, is not a deadly practice. However, as we have been taught since the beginning of time, women twist and distort as we compare the joy out of everything until it is destroyed.
Women are bombarded by comparison in all things media- our Instagram feeds, television ads, and magazines (for those of us who still read them or least get a glimpse in the grocery store line unless you order your groceries and then you can avoid that battle – YEAH YOU!).
This media-defined-beauty assigned us all a score card tallying how none of us measure up. The laughable part of this process is that we ALLOW the definition to be absorbed. We accept what see like a royal proclamation and stamp it approved without a vetting process. Even the strongest of us, have to battle back reminding ourselves that we are good enough even if our jean size and bra size score too high or low for the benchmark.
Well I call bullshit! On this media platform I shout from my proverbial megaphone and declare war on comparison. I fire the first shot against this joy-killer. We live very different lives, each of us making our own path, taking our own journey. We beat our chests, burn our bras (if that is your thing) and claim independence from the constraints society puts on us and then at night in the comfort of our couch and privacy of our electronics, we scroll and impulsively compare our lives and ourselves to others.
This epidemic has recently punched me in the face with my developing twin daughters. These two girls only shared my womb for 9 months and their birthdays. They are so very different, and we purposefully celebrate that. It has been a source of pride that each girl is an individual and has a separate identity from her twin sister. Recently, the F-word has breached the walls of our judgement-free home (not the one that rhymes with truck – that word has always had a home in our house). FAT. I hate this word and it was banned early on as a descriptive term. No one is allowed to say that F-word.
Even so, the word has infiltrated conversations with my daughters. I was horrified when one asked me if she was “the F-word”. I wanted to scream and shake the thought out of her. My heart ached when she said it. I knew if she had the courage to ask me, then she had spent time alone with that thought. She found a score card and began this deadly game. Pondering her worth and comparing herself.
Let’s get something straight – no one has EVER accused me of being skinny. I never struggled with needing to gain weight. I am strong and stout and exactly how I am supposed to be, because of the genes I am proudly born with. I assumed and hoped this was the inner monologue we had developed in our daughters. I was wrong.
With further investigation, my daughter was in the middle of battle with comparing herself to her friends. Skinny and fat were being toss around like hand grenades and I was trying to deflect them before they exploded in my face. It was painful. Lives were lost. That isn’t totally true, no one died, but painful none the less. In the end, I realized I need to put my money where my mouth is. My daughters watch me. With every mindless scroll and “Like” on social media and with every groan that escapes my mouth when I look in the mirror, they are watching my compulsion to compare. And to my horror, I realize I enlisted my daughter in this battle for her self-acceptance. And I did it without even realizing it.
Right then and there, I raised the white flag. I surrendered to the fact that I fully participated in this shameful fight. I decided I needed to define some things for myself and that is what my daughters needed to see. I needed to accept me unconditionally. FULL ACCEPTANCE NEGATES COMPARISION.
Step one: Put down the electronics! I walked away from mindless scrolling and telling myself it was just a harmless way to unwind. Bullshit! I was more uptight and pissed off after scrolling through everyone’s “Best Life Ever” photos. This prompted me to write my unattainable “TO DO” list consisting of: lose weight, clean my house, go on vacation, and become a part-time bee-keeper with a $100,000 salary. Not helpful!
Step Two: Be present. Like right now…be present in this moment and not freak out about regrets from yesterday or fearful of the anxiety of tomorrow. The journey is the real story – be present in the journey and accept the bumps in the road. Books are written and movies are made about the journey. No one wants to hear “And me made it – no problem.” Again, if that is your story, I call bullshit – it is not true – at least not in my life or Ruby’s.
Step Three: Choose acceptance. Stand in front of the mirror – naked. Keep your eyes open and look at yourself. Train your brain so it has your body as the definition of beauty. This will not happen overnight because we have spent years distorting our image of beauty with photoshop, touchups and surgery. This bootcamp will not be easy, but it will be worth it. Get ready for your day, naked. Dance around your room, naked. Do whatever you can, naked (without getting arrested) until you know your beauty. Define yourself.
Once you finish bootcamp and acceptance is your involuntary response, you will be ready to rejoin the world of social media, sparingly. You can see pictures of matching-outfit-family on vacay living their best life and butterfly-farmers with $1.5 million rehab budgets on HGTV with peace in your heart and genuinely like their posts. For me, self-acceptance is the healing sea air flowing over me as I lay on the beach with the sun warming my face and I let the peace of contentment absorb into my skin. Self-acceptance is my happy place. What did you accept today?