Fashion/Design, Pop Culture

Beauty in the Media and Why We Constantly Compare and Contrast

The other day, I came across a Buzzfeed article titled ‘10 Scary Celebrity Close-Ups‘. In it, we are gifted extreme close-ups of celebs such as Katy Perry, Zooey Deschanel and Jennifer Aniston. I’ll be honest, the article brought some joy to my life after discovering a giant pimple forming in the middle of my forehead. Whoa! Look at Zooey Deschanel’s peach fuzz ‘stache! I found myself saying. Hot damn! Katy Perry looks like a wax figure! I giggled with delight. I secretly hated myself for thinking such things, but it felt oh so good to see these revealing photos.

But why? Why did it feel so damn good?

Even as someone who worked behind the camera and saw firsthand that celebs are human beings too, it’s still difficult not to compare and contrast when seeing photos of polished and perfect celebrities. Their skin always flawless, their thighs cellulite-free, their stomachs flat and toned and their hair always perfect. And even though we have nice reminders that is indeed not always true, it’s still difficult not to feel like, well, ABSOLUTE SHIT, when looking at these photos.

I try hard not to look at glossies for this reason and for the fact that I dislike knowing about celebrities’ lives. I hate the subconscious seed that is planted where we’re supposed to cheer when they divorce, smile when they relapse or snicker when they falter. These are all traits that we would not view positively when dealing with friends and family, so why must we be so happy when it happens to celebrities? Because they’re privileged, you might say. Well, I can tell you from working in the thick of it that being a celebrity sucks major ass. Your life as you know it is over. No more quick trips to the grocery store or walks alone. People hating you for no reason and writing hateful things about you. People wanting to be your friend because you’re famous and not knowing who you can trust. Not having a support group and potentially having your friends or family take advantage of you. Always worrying about having to stay skinny and flawless in order to keep your career. To me, none of that is worth being a millionaire.

One of the reasons why I enjoyed the Buzzfeed article was not because I could nitpick every flaw on the celebrity’s skin, but rather as a reminder that we’re all the same. We get oily foreheads and blackheads and wrinkles. We get old. When I was younger, I used to analyze every pore on my face. At various points in my twenties, I’ve had minor breaking out due to stress. I hated it. I felt I looked ugly. Now as I get older instead of the occasional pimple, I have wrinkles. My make-up sets in the lines a little longer. After I smile the eye webs stay a little more articulate. As I get older, I realize that I’m getting more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve kind of grown used to all those flaws, the wrinkles, the jiggles and the scars. I’ve grown fond of the gray hairs that are growing with fervor upon my head. I may never be 100 pounds, 5’10”, lanky, leggy, skinny, small-nosed, wide-eyed, smokin’, voluptuous or curvy, but I’m me and I kind of like me.

At various times I hated my Jewish nose, often staring at others’ tiny noses and sighing. Why can’t my eyes be further apart? I’d ask to absolutely no one. As a teenager I wore heels to be taller and make-up to accentuate my features and cover up the flaws.  Other than to hide my coke binge-looking dark circles, the make-up now is ever so faint. If flats don’t elongate my legs and make my thighs appear smaller, so be it. Tiny jeans and tiny skirts? F it. Give me some flow, some style and some freedom. If I’ve learned anything as I’ve gotten older it’s that what you wear on your face or your body can not compare to the confidence within.  And to me, the women whose close-ups looked best were the women over 40. The women who have grown to accept who they are.

Though the Buzzfeed article was titled “10 Scary Celebrity Close-Ups” in that we are to be startled and repulsed by the images within, maybe we should rename the article “10 Photos of Human Beings Being Human”.

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  • Reply M December 13, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    Agreed on celebrity/fame being an invasive horror show. Makes me shudder. It’s one of the reasons I’m glad I never went to L.A. Trust me, I’d love to be a working actress but it’s such a Faustian deal.

    As for beauty/age–Helen Mirren gets more gorgeous as time goes on, imho. How does she do that? 🙂

  • Reply Stefani December 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Great post. I’ve wasted many years hating my big nose, my junk-in-the-trunk ass, my membership in the Itty Bitty Titty Committee, etc.

    Now that I’m older, I’ve realized that without all that junk in my trunk, I wouldn’t be able to dance with the gusto that I do. Without my big nose, my face wouldn’t be unique. And if I had big, bib titties, I wouldn’t be able to run without worry of what kind of sports bra I’m wearing, or zip off to the store without a bra on at all.

    And it’s so true that the women who work the hardest to look good on the outside are writhing in self-loathing on the inside.

    I would not trade places with them for anything.

  • Reply For the Love of the Lady Mustache December 14, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    […] I wrote about beauty in the media and how we compare and contrast. I made a little foot note on Facebook that I still dig Zooey Deschanel’s peach fuzz […]

  • Reply Alexandra the Tsaritsa December 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Aww, Zooey Deschanel’s peach fuzz is really cute.

    We shouldn’t have to make fun of celebs in order to feel better about ourselves, but I generally think it’s okay so long as it doesn’t go too far. Sending hate mail isn’t cool, but looking at a photo of someone famous and loved by many like Angelina Jolie when she has a zit can make me feel less ugly on a bad skin day.

    Great post!

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