March 2, 2016

The red carpet fashion provided a visual feast of entertainment at the Academy Awards. Gorgeous dresses, magnificent jewels, and perfect make-up adorned the bodies of the beautiful people, leaving the rest of us to compare and despair.

Even with the help of professional hair, make-up and ‘dressing’, it’s unlikely that we mere mortals will ever look as amazing as those featured in the red carpet footage. Even in that rarefied atmosphere, the cameras picked up only the most beautiful of the beautiful.

Exactly what is happening underneath the clothing has some clues that allow us to understand that even the perfect bodies are not perfect at all. Sports Illustrated model Chrissy Teigen made headlines last year with a photo of her perfect bruised and stretch-marked legs, along with the acknowledgement “stretchies say hi”.

Teigen said of presenting the perfect image: ‘It started with Botox and everything, of course, but now it’s just grown into this Photoshop phenomenon and I’ve seen these women in person, they are not like that… Please know that. I’ve shot in barely anything with them and it’s just amazing what people do to tweak themselves.’

Tina Fey famously took off her dress on the Letterman Show to reveal her Spanx underneath, exposing some of the secrets that we never see when we watch the stars on TV and movies.

Control underwear, photoshop, botox, cosmetic surgery and the like are all designed to disguise or remove ‘flaws’, as the Hollywood ideal would see them. By constantly seeing this perfection, we can’t help but compare our flaws and, unfortunately, focus on them.

This comparison doesn’t stop with Hollywood stars, of course. While women can be best friends, often we compare ourselves. “I wish I had your hair.” “You’re so lucky to have a flat tummy.” “I used to have legs like yours.”

The size or shape or appearance of your body says absolutely nothing about you as a person.

Instead of focusing entirely on the outer package, why not focus a little more on what’s happening inside. Identify what it is about you that your friends are attracted to. If you honestly don’t know, ask them.

Even if you’re gorgeous, it’s unlikely that it’s your appearance that your friends love. It might be your kindness, sense of humour, resilience, fierce loyalty, easy-going nature, or any of hundreds of other attributes. It’s even possible that you have many personality attributes that they love.

So instead of compare and despair, acknowledge what you like about others while also becoming aware that you have features that other people love, too. In time, you may find that you learn to love yourself just a little bit more. Compare and be aware.