It’s confidence month on Muffin top mummy, and today I want to highlight that perfection is a lie.
You probably know this already, but as someone who has had/will have/wants to have babies, everything you see, hear and read will try to convince you otherwise. You must lose weight. Your house must be spotless. A hair out of place is a massive fail. It’s not. We both know this. And yet, as we scroll through Insta, or flick through the latest magazine, every image is designed to make you feel inferior. Everyone else’s life looks perfect. And if you could just get your hands on this, or invest in that, yours could be too.
A little while ago, I was having a lovely Jacuzzi with my sister.
We’d got our hands on some free passes to a local gym and were treating ourselves to a nice, long relax in the warm water.
It was bliss.
But I couldn’t shake a feeling that had crept over me from the minute we’d changed into our swimwear. My sister is the sort of girl you’d probably love to hate (I certainly dabble in it). Not because you or I are evil, obvs. Simply because she is beautiful. She’s tall, tanned and slim as anything.
But she couldn’t wrap her towel round herself quick enough on our way out to the pool. And she didn’t want to get out of the jacuzzi because there were people around.
I genuinely couldn’t believe how self-conscious she was. If I looked like her, I thought, I’d probably be parading around naked all the time. Pop to the shops nude. Play a spot of tennis bare. Well, perhaps not, but I certainly wouldn’t be shy about going swimming.
I had to know what was going on
I asked her why she was so worried.
Her answer floored me – “I’m not happy with the way I look”.
There’s me, all hips, wobbly bits and paler than pale skin (and this is before I got pregnant!) wandering about with barely a second thought for all the other pool-goers. Then there’s my gorgeous sister, trying desperately to merge in with the pool-tiles.
I had no idea her insecurities were so crippling. And in all honesty, it made me angry. She’s 6 years younger than me and I think the pressure on her generation in particular is astronomical. You must look like this. You must wear that. You cannot be satisfied with yourself. All because someone wants to sell you the magic ‘get perfect’ solution.
But perfection is a lie
There’s no such thing as perfection. It doesn’t exist – because we are all so completely unique and individual that there is no ‘one size fits all’.
What seems perfect to me could be your worst nightmare.
I tried to explain this to her. I told her how beautiful I think she is. But in her mind, everyone was looking at her and judging. They thought she was too tall, her thighs too large, her face too unattractive.
I wanted to grab her and shake her until she heard me. Guess what? No-one is looking at you. Because everyone is too busy worrying about themselves. Everyone is going about with the same insecurities.
The people you’re worrying about are probably thinking the exact same thing. It’s a vicious cycle of fear that has no tangible links to reality. So what if they are thinking you don’t look OK? Will you ever know they think that? In your day-to-day life, do you care that the random passer-by had this crap opinion?
I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t value the thoughts of a judgmental-bitch/bastard anyway…
What about us postpartum women?
What hope do we have as ladies that have undergone huge changes with our body, when those we deem ‘perfect’ are wracked with insecurity? At the time of this conversation, I wasn’t even pregnant.
In fact, the memory of speaking to my sister about this only recently resurfaced as I came to accept my postpartum body. I hadn’t been happy. I’d believed that I needed to return to my pre-baby body to feel ‘worthy’ of looking good again. Hiding in baggy clothes and tying up unruly hair had become the norm. Not because I didn’t care how I looked, but because I did. And I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone criticising me if I made an effort.
But I’m over that now.
I remembered what I said to my sister and realised it should be as true now as it ever was. More so, in fact. For what sort of person would I be if I didn’t listen to my own advice? (I’ll give you a hint: a stupid one)
The advice I gave her
I told her that I no longer stare dramatically at the floor in the street when I don’t wear make-up. My hair is not straightened daily (hell, I don’t even brush/blow-dry it anymore). I don’t starve myself or fear putting on a swimsuit. I like who I am.
I told her that I’m free from worrying about strangers that are most likely not even worrying about me. There are times I dress up, and just as many times that I don’t. But I don’t do it for anyone else but myself.
When every industry in the world is telling you that you need to purchase the next thing to be satisfied with yourself and your life, it’s almost impossible not to listen. But it isn’t other people’s judgement you need to listen to – it’s your own. They can’t help you in your mission to be perfect, because whether you like it or not, you already are. Struggling to achieve perfection is a lie.
So my darling sister, please don’t feel like you need to disguise yourself as a pool tile ever again. To me, you are perfect.