Saturday, 13 April 2013

Self-Confidence, Self-Obsession And Nothing In Between.

Today I was reading the Herald Sun online and came across this article titled "Australia's Most Self-Obsessed Models Reveal All" by Simon Crerar. Interested, I read on thinking it was going to be a piece on the types of products or beauty care routines Aussie models use to get the "seriously-I'm-just-naturally-this-beautiful" look. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, and it wasn't because I realised that no amount of foundation or mascara could make me look like Miranda Kerr.

Unfortunately, the article turned out to be more of a condescending peek into the Instagram accounts of models such as Megan Gale, Miranda Kerr and Lara Bingle. While Crerar's article is humourous and seemingly written in jest, the tone of it really made me think about the way our society interprets self-esteem.

The premise of the article is simple enough: certain models are considered "self-obsessed" because they regularly post photos of themselves on social media. Photos whilst they are in bed, on the beach, at the gym etc. Basically, there are a lot of incredibly beautiful runway models clogging up your Instagram feed and the reflex seems to be "oh wow, you must really love yourself." And this is what irritates me.

Since the article makes absolutely no mention of male models and their apparent self-obsessed ways, I'll stick to the female side of the problem. As women, we're taught that modesty when it comes to physical appearance is key. We're expected to strive for beauty but, oh god no, don't actually think you're attractive, because that's not attractive at all. It strikes me as such a destructive cycle because if the basis for being labelled conceited is posting a few photos of yourself on the internet, what kind of message is that sending? That insecurity is more desirable than having confidence in how you look? That we should look down on women who seem relatively happy with their appearance? Call me crazy, but if you can look at a photo of yourself in a bikini and think "hey, I like how I look in this enough to post it to hundreds of thousands of followers" then more power to you.

It feels as though rejecting compliments and the "oh, me? really?" attitude of women has become so naturalised and ordinary that it's created within us an aversion to people who perhaps just like themselves, plain and simple. Think about how many times you've complimented someone, only to have them make some sort of comment about how unfounded your praise was. Now think about how many times you've done the same, despite the fact that you might have actually felt good about whatever it was they were appreciating. We've been taught that laughing off compliments and discounting ourselves is normal and healthy, so it's no surprise that when a person doesn't adhere to these conventions we see her as 'self-obsessed' and conceited.

It's obvious as to why models are easy targets for judgements like this, despite how unfounded they might be. These women fundamentally make a living out of being beautiful, and Crerar is certainly not the first person to assume that this would make them somewhat narcissistic. It's strange to me how, as a society, we are more inclined to look down upon people who are self-accepting than to celebrate them. When did body-shaming become more revered, more normal than body-loving? And when did we become cynical enough to let self-confidence become synonymous with self-obsession?

Monday, 1 April 2013

Monthly Favourites | March.

Look world, something good has come out of the countless hours I spend watching beauty and fashion vloggers on YouTube- I've been inspired to do a 'Monthly Favourites' post! 

If you haven't come across this type of thing before, it's pretty much all in the name- this post is about a few of the things I've really loved in the past 30 days or so.

☀ March Monthly Favourites 

Favourite purchase: Nike shoes.
This month I finally bought a new pair of runners and oh my lord, they are pretty. I had been looking for a great new pair for months but a mixture of my notoriously indecisive personality and  the shoe stores not having my sizes meant that I could never settle on a pair. Until I saw these babies, that is!

$80 from The Foot Locker.

I'm not going to lie- I have never been a fan of white shoes, especially those of the trainer variety, since one would assume that they would get dirty quite easily. But the lady in the shop told me they would clean up well so I put all my faith in her honesty and bought them. They are incredibly comfortable and supportive, a vast difference from my previous hand-me-down trainers that left me with a sprained foot a couple weeks back. 

Favourite song: Resentment - Beyonce' [Live].

The emotion Beyonce' puts into this song is just absolutely heartbreaking and yet so empowering at the same time. I judge great music by its capacity to make me feel emotions I have never experienced, and if you were to ever witness me belting out this song you would be forgiven for thinking I had been betrayed by a boyfriend at some point in my life. Alas, Beyonce is just an incredible performer and my love life is non-existent. But all the cars next to me at the traffic lights definitely think I'm capable of getting a boyfriend. Thanks, Queen B.

Side note: Who do you even cheat on Beyonce with? Thinking of a situation in which this might occur baffles me to no end.

Favourite make up product: Maybelline Fit Me Foundation.

Yet another influence of my obsessive YouTube watching ways. I was waiting eagerly for my other foundations to run out before buying this since I had heard so many good things about it from the beauty vloggers I subscribe to. I was previously using a Revlon Colour Stay foundation, which I loved, but I definitely think I prefer this one. It finishes quite matte on the skin and stays on for a very long time. It also gives you a lot of coverage for a small amount of product, which is always great. 

A better review from someone much more qualified than I am can be found on the incredible Tanya Burr's blog here, for those of you who are interested.

Favourite food: Strawberry and feta salad.

Cos lettuce [or other lettuce of choice].
Baby spinach.
Feta cheese.
1-2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar.

I have been eating this in extremely large quantities all month and I have absolutely no intention of stopping any time soon. As you can see with the ingredients above, it's incredibly quick and simple to make which is always a plus for when you don't have much time to pack a lunch for school/work/a day out but want something filling and refreshing. And it's so healthy! Definitely better than a microwave meal or take out food and probably just as quick to prepare!

It's 2am and looking at this photo is making me want to devour a serving right now, so I need to move on to a new topic. Just try it. It's basically the food equivalent of heaven.

Favourite YouTube video:

Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake- History of Rap 4.

It's a good thing that this video doesn't need any words because I don't have any.

I think that's it for this month, guys. If you do monthly favourite posts as well, it would be great if you could link them in the comments because I absolutely love reading them!

Hope you've enjoyed this post! xx.

Teenage Lessons From a Barely-20-Year-Old.

Two months ago I turned 20 and it was very anti-climatic to say the least. I didn't have any sort of life-changing epiphany and I still can't relate to any of the TV shows that claim to realistically depict the lives of 20-something women. I feel like I'm standing in the door of adulthood while Britney Spears' 'I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman' plays in the background and it's just a whole new level of confusing for me. But then I realised that I am now [somewhat] qualified to share all the lessons I learned throughout my insufferable teenage years, even though I internally feel perpetually stuck at 15 years old.

These are some of the lessons I learned in between all the other useless stuff I did.

1. It's okay to say no.
To people, to plans, to cute surf-lifesavers who want you to donate money you can't afford. This may come as a shock to those of you who, like me, have a compulsive need to please people but saying no doesn't make you a bad person. If anything, it just makes you a happier one. When you realise this, it will become very obvious to you that, contrary to popular belief, you will not lose all your friends simply because you said no to going to a party or doing someone a favour.

2. Don't worry about figuring out what you want to do just yet.
I admit, this is the easiest thing to say and the hardest to put into practice. It seems as though once you hit High School you're kind of just expected to figure out your entire life overnight. And that's stressful because you can't even figure out what you want for lunch, let alone what job you want to do every day for the next 40 or so years of your life. And then your school might make you do that career test where you answer a bunch of questions and the computer tells you what jobs you might be suited to. And that's stressful because you've never even heard of most of the jobs but they all just sound like a lifetime prison sentence in the form of a 6 year degree and $50,000 worth of University loans. Basically what I'm saying is that thinking about the future is just one big anxiety attack.

However, what they don't tell you is that not knowing where you're headed when you're a teenager is pretty much a pre-requisite for being a teenager. Trust me, even the kids who claim they know exactly what they want to do have no idea, and I can say that with authority because I was one of those kids. Try new things, go out of your comfort zone and just enjoy yourself as much as you can. The only way you can figure out what job you might want to do when you're older is by stumbling across something you enjoy doing and also have a mild talent at executing.

3. If you have figured out what you want to do, do it as much as you can.
As I mentioned before, I've known that I wanted to be a writer since I was pretty young but I was so characteristically ridden with self-doubt that I refused to actually write anything until I was about 15. Looking back, this was the most illogical thing to do because I couldn't possibly get any better at writing or discover what exactly I liked writing about if I never actually did it. So, the lesson goes that if you want to paint, draw, dance, act, sew or do any of the other myriad of things that can form a career in this wonderful world of ours, do them*. You don't even need to show other people if you're unsure about it. Although, chances are, as you start to indulge in your chosen craft more and more, you'll want to share it with others who may also appreciate it.

*The only exception to this rule is for people who want to be nurses or doctors or anything else that requires a license to perform. Please don't cut people open until you are medically qualified to do so.

4. Leggings aren't pants.
What can I say? Some rules are just made to be comfortably, unfashionably broken.

5. People change, and that's okay.
Teenage years are nothing but change, so it's to be expected that sometimes you just don't have as much to say to someone who you once shared everything with. Drifting apart from a friend is never easy, and perhaps there is nothing to really make you feel anything other than sad about it, but it's something that you gradually learn to understand over time. Sometimes it's messy and angry and other times it's quiet and subtle, but it happens even when you don't want it to. If possible, remember that it's no ones fault, you can't blame people for growing and perhaps you will drift back together in the future if things decide to change once again.

6. Going out to nightclubs is not really that much fun 85% of the time.
I did the research and that number is statistically valid. Most nightclubs are equal parts sweat, bad music, uncomfortable heels and a waste of money and I can avoid all those things if I sit at home in bed watching YouTube videos all night. It's just science, people. I didn't make the rules.

7. It's good to do things that frighten you.
Because it keeps you on your toes. Staying in your comfort zone is more often than not boring and uneventful and, worst of all, you miss out on dozens of potentially great new experiences simply because you're feeling what has to be one of the most common human emotions. The best way I've found to overcome this is to make yourself do little things that make you a bit nervous, and eventually you'll have worked your confidence up enough to overcome the big hurdles. A lot of the time we shackle ourselves to negative emotions and stand in the way of our own freedom without even realising it. Going against your self-taught instinct to avoid certain harmless situations is terrifying and liberating and wonderful, and the sooner you realise that the better off you will be.