The Reality of “Beautiful”

by jdeena

Last week while scrolling through Instagram, a male friend of mine had posted a picture of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model with the hashtag “WCW” which translates to “woman crush Wednesday.” The picture was all glossy hair, shiny tan skin, and perfectly sculpted body underneath her bathing suit. The overall appearance was striking; she looked amazing. However, upon closer inspection, she (like almost every other cover model) had clearly been airbrushed. I’m not naive; I knew she was initially. I was just shocked at how obvious it was after looking at the picture for more than 10 seconds.

I commented that his so-called “crush” on this woman was based on her falseness. He replied that I was a “hater.” So I had to reply that no, I wasn’t a hater, but that his posting this picture continues to perpetuate the idea that men prefer women who look this way, and it continues to add to the insecurity and unattainable body image that women struggle to achieve everyday. In a private message later on, he admitted to me that he knew she was airbrushed, but that it didn’t stop him from admiring her.

So what does that say, then? That men know the women they see in magazines or in movies are glossed up and photoshopped, yet, they still find them attractive? Where does that leave us regular ladies at?

I personally have never been influenced by magazines to the point of forcing myself to diet, or buying every makeup trick to contour and sculpt my face to perfection. Maybe I’m lucky genetically, so I haven’t had to deal with acne or wrinkles, even at my older age. I’m taller than the average female, so even when I gain weight I can hide it well. And I am blessed with the gift of dressing for my body type, which means I can accentuate certain features while hiding the flaws. But I have never been told I’m unattractive or fat by a guy.

Wait, what?

Am I saying that I am attractive to guys, even without the photoshop? YES! Here is what I don’t understand ladies: why do you put yourself through all these hoops in order to look like the women in magazines, when the men around you actually don’t care? I have asked my guy friends over and over again whether or not they like super skinny girls, and the answer is always no. They like curves; they want softness. They don’t want to feel like when they hug you, you’re going to break. But what really turns guys on is when you are comfortable in that body. When you dress to flatter your figure, and walk around with your head held high.

If you are so easily influenced by magazines, don’t read them. Learn to see yourself for who you are; trust me, you’ll be much happier! And when you are happy, guys see that happiness and they are pulled towards you. What we all need to realize is that we could ALL look like the models in the magazines with photoshop, special lighting, and a makeup and hair team. Strip all that away and the woman on the cover is just like you and me.

Now, with all of that said, does this excuse men for continuing to post photos such as the one my friend did? I don’t think it should be a habit, because we all know how much social media influences people. When women see men posting their ideal woman in this way, it makes them feel inadequate. And while many men think that it’s not their problem and women need to get over it….well, it’s very unfair to say that when you throw it in our face every day. Yet if a woman posted a picture of a shirtless guy with a perfectly sculpted body, she’s deemed unrealistic and superficial. Men and women both need to share in the responsibility of proper representation. We now live in the world of selfies and filters; it is hard to figure out what is underneath all that makeup. I promise you, there is nothing more liberating than being comfortable without makeup, your heels, and all those hair products. Strip it all away, and get comfortable with the person inside.

She’s beautiful.