In 2015 France’s health prime minister issued a statement, just now being implemented, that all French fashion models have to be cleared as healthy by their doctors to continue working. This is supposed to revolutionize the world and the fashion industry. Although this information is encouraging, the first time I heard it I was extremely disgruntled. I am happy that something is being done to combat the negative portrayal of beauty in society, but as soon as I heard this all I could think of was: Why did we ever get to a point where models are being threatened to be healthy? Why has the standard of beauty been set to such unattainable levels that people are killing themselves to be considered pretty?
This article made me feel some type of way: mad. I’m mad at the fashion industry for tricking us to believe that there are only certain parameters to beauty and I’m mad at myself for taking years to see myself properly. I distinctly recall the year I looked in the mirror and remembered what my younger self seemed to instinctively know until the world told me differently: I am beautiful.
Ever since I made that realization, I have been trying to live my life with it present in my mind. If I come to the conclusion that my outfit for the day was chosen more to impress someone else and less to be content with my own standards, I make myself change. When everyone I knew began to wear makeup, I didn’t follow their pursuit. Not because I disapproved of makeup, but because I knew that I wouldn’t be wearing it because it was something that I sincerely wanted to do for me. I filter my every action through an “Am I happy with the way I’m portraying myself” lense.
The way that women are portrayed in the media is detrimental. Models just further perpetuate the impossible standards that women try to obtain to be seen as “good”. There is not one type of woman. There is not one type of way to dress that makes my femininity more real than others. There is not one type of way to act to make my femininity more valid. There are not certain hobbies, passions, and drives that make my femininity credible. And until we see the differences in beauty that we, as women share, how are we ever going to fully love ourselves?
I am not like you. I am not your height nor your shape. We have different interests. We have different passions. Still, we are both a perfect definition of femininity. To be feminine is to be female. That’s it. I can be strong and tough. I can wear what I want and think how I want to. I can work a job that might not be considered “feminine” by normal standards but is perfect for me.
The first step to loving who I am on the outside is to love who I am on the inside. It’s hard, but I try to not compare myself to others because there will always be someone better than me at something and I’ll always be better than some at other things. Neither of those two scenarios affect my worth. If there is something about me that I don’t like, it needs to be changed because I want to change it. I am the only one who spends every moment on this earth with me, and I want to enjoy my own company. Falling in love with my personality and my soul is quintessential in being content with who I am on the outside.
And who am I on the outside? I think I’m pretty spectacular. Not because I’m vain, but because I am in love with myself in the purest form. Not because I’m self-centered, but because I want to practice self-love. Not because I’m arrogant, but because I finally understand the stunning creation of God that I am.
A couple of days after I heard about the French model legislation, I came across Momni Boutique via Instagram and immediately fell in love. The blend of elegance and comfort highlighted by their clothes reflects the confidence that every girl should feel regarding her femininity and self-worth. The thing that makes their boutique and their clothes unique is that they don’t just cater to one type of girl with one type of body and one stereotypical definition of beauty. All of the models for their clothes are so beautiful, and it’s because they look real. And they are real people. With real stories and real lives that are dictated by more that merely how they look. I am a real person with real stories and a real life, and I’m really crushing it, with or without Fashion Week’s approval. We all are.
Written by Octavia Powell. Edited by Mara Strobel-Lanka.