No teenage girl is ever fully confident in their body.
For some this may seem like a broad statement, but it is merely a fact that I can state because I am one of those teenage girls. I literally have an inside view into what it is like.
You can ask any one of us 'Do you like how you look?', and I guarantee you that we will either awkwardly avoid the question or we might even answer with a timid yes, just to shut you up. If you do eventually get an answer out of us, you will probably put our reluctance down to the fact that we don’t want other people to think that we are too confident rather than the fact that we have no confidence at all.
The other day, we had this really cool poet into us at school ( transition year perk ) and he was giving us all these little tasks to help us get writing. All of them were pretty easy until we got to this particular exercise where we had to list “10 things that we would change about ourselves” and that is where our answers got a bit more complicated.
There was no hesitation from anyone. Pens hit paper at the speed of lighting and everyone quickly wrote down a lot more than ten things. Personally, I wrote down about a million before I took a breath, and I actually found it incredibly upsetting to see all these things sitting in front of me. It made the whole situation even more real; and being the hormonal and emotional teenager that I am, I actually got really upset about it.
Because even though your friends rush to your rescue with a million compliments, you can’t believe a single one of them.
It seems that it is almost impossible to be cured of the monster that lives inside of your head.
Even though I was the only one that actually let my emotions come to the surface at the time, (maybe it’s a pisces thing) some people’s reactions to this body confidence experiment took a little bit longer to set in.
Some of my friends text me just saying that they felt like crap after it, and honestly can you blame them? Being faced with the fact that you actually don’t like how you look is a very daunting realisation.
Obviously, I need to address the fact that the poet guy who was telling us to do these things, might need to change his curriculum. Even though it is probably good for us teenagers to learn how we feel about ourselves, a poetry class is probably not the best place to do so. Just a tip for the top poetry dude.
Next, why the hell can’t we just be happy in our own skin? And trust me there are a million answers to that question.
A huge one in my eyes has to be tumblr. For those who don’t know, tumblr is basically a blogging platform where millions of people reblog photos from their timeline to create a very beautiful tumblr blog.
Not too long ago, I literally became addicted to tumblr. Addicted. And the problem about a tumblr addiction is that when you are on tumblr, all you see is pretty people, pretty scenery and ironically, very pretty plates of food.
After a while your perception of reality is actually altered. Your tumblr life slowly slips into everything else that you do. You think that everyone looks as beautiful photoshopped tumblr guys and girls that you are constantly seeing, and then you finally look up and see yourself in the mirror, and you start to see flaws that you never saw before.
Because you now believe that because you don’t look like the perfect species that is displayed on tumblr, that you are not beautiful. That you need to change to join this superior species that you are constantly reblogging. That is when the list of things that you want to change about yourself gets longer and longer inside your mind.
I know that tumblr is not what has given birth to body confidence issues, but I am just saying that it is a large platform for it in today's society. In my mom's time and long before, I can only assume that Vogue and it's counterparts were not a huge help to anyone.
Another cause of these body confidence issues in my mind has to be the people themselves. Attending an all girls school myself as really made me aware of how cruel girls can be towards each other. It’s like a silent slaughtering every day.
There are two extremes in the girl world.
Either you are too “perfect” ( in the loosest sense of the word ) and are there to be judged and hated for being what those girls believe that they want to be. Or you are not a competition to them for one reason or another. You are either too thin, or too round. You are either too pale or too tanned. There is such a fine line between being loved by others, and being hated by others.
These judging girls can lead to huge amounts of overthinking ( which we are all guilty of ), which in turn can lead to extra hours in front of the mirror, and we go straight back to the ever-growing list of the things that we want to change about ourselves.
So this is the part of the article where I tell you how to fix it, right?
But like with a lot of things, there is no cure right now.
Don’t worry though, hope is not lost.
You can do what I did. I removed tumblr from my phone. I unfollowed all the “tumblr” people on instagram, and I took a total and complete pause from social media just to give time for the realistic form of beauty to return.
It was sort of like a cleansing ritual. I have returned to my social networks again, but my tumblr account remains inactive. I don’t want to revisit that kind of parallel universe again. I still use tumblr but I have switched a more taylor swift friendly kind of environment..
Now, the way around, the silent judging of the girl groups. Well firstly, life is not a competition. And even though this seems like an obvious statement, it isn’t as crystal clear in girl world.
I read an incredibly good book called ‘Only Ever Yours’ by Louise O’Neill lately ( well technically I am nearing the end ) and I think it described how girls really do rate themselves against each other. How even through masks of compliments and kindness, there can be an underlying tone of threat that can imply so much.
Girls can be total witches ( you know what I mean ) and even though I am a girl, I can’t deny that fact. But, I don’t think that this should be allowed to shatter our self confidence.
My mom once clarified for me before that everyone is beautiful or attractive in their own way, but we get confused and think that classical beauty is the only kind of beauty that counts. We can sometimes be led to think that tumblr beauty, with their long tanned legs and blonde hair, is the only beauty that anyone can ever identify.
And this is why body confidence often does not exist in teenage girls.
At this present moment, I don’t have a whole pile of confidence in how I look. It’s probably why my generation spends so damn long thinking about which picture to upload to instagram.
As ironic as it may sound, I do have some confidence in the fact that people will eventually realise that tumblr beauty does not exist. That people will realise that life is not a contest. That people will realise that we are all beautiful in our own individual way and that the faster we learn to accept that, the better.
I know that right now, the mirror is telling you something different, that it is telling you that you need to change.
But in reality you just need to accept who you are and be happy with that, because you are beautiful. And if you are able to accept that, that ladies and gentleman is body confidence.
I know that it’s not as simple as just going to Argos or ordering it online, but it will eventually arrive. And sometimes the longer you wait for something, the better it is when you get it.