living intuitively


I A M pretty part deux

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Why are middle school girls skipping the awkward stage and going straight to pretty? No, no, you get braces and wear blue eyeshadow. You do your time.

I don't know about you, but I'm progressively amazed at how "mature" teenagers look these days. And no, it's not because I'm getting older. It's because the teenagers of today are night-and-day different from the teenagers of the past! It used to be a rite of passage to take selfies (complete with brace face and cringe-worthy makeup) screaming of adolescent awkwardness. These days, selfies include perfected posing, expertly-applied makeup, and strategized lighting. I'm convinced they added a "Perfecting Your Pouty Face" to the middle school curriculum. NO FAIR. 

My sister and I are continually floored each year when our high school seniors (she photographs, I style) show up already knowing how to move their bodies and pose. They know their angles, they nail the fake laugh, they slay the smize (smiling with your eyes)... It's a whole new breed.

A really good amiga recently shared a Beauty Redefined article titled Save Your Girls From Instagram (linked below and in the blog's Resources). A must read for everyone, especially parents.

The article spotlights the message society (which includes you and me!) sends our youth, particularly our young women. Here's a little taste:

You exist for others’ viewing pleasure. Your happiness and self worth [are] directly connected to your ability to command increasing likes, follows, and DMs. Your beauty is defined by specific ideals set constantly out of reach and ever changing. [Your] joy will come from documenting perfectly poised, styled, and edited images of your experiences - not the experiences themselves. Your looks are your most valuable asset. Your body will earn you love, popularity, and self esteem.

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I mean...where do I even start with this? So much to dissect! And it's spot freaking on, is it not?!

Here are some questions to ask ourselves:

  • When looking at a new account, how many times do you peek at the person's followers, to secretly know just how much credit/respect/social media cred to assign that person?
  • How many of you monitor your own likes and followers, feeling jazzed when you get more? 
  • How many times have you been out with friends/on a date/on a vacation/etc and focused on exactly how to curate a shot so you can post it on social media? (Because if you don't 'gram it, did it even really happen?) You're more intent on making it appear as if you're having the time of your life, than actually having the time of your life.
  • How many times while standing in the checkout line have you seen women's magazine covers advising us on how to "Embrace those curves, Mama (pg. 15)" then instructing on how to "Drop 15 to get that summer body you've always wanted (pg. 16)"? (Mixed message much??? Especially when they then offer a delicious cake recipe on pg. 17!!)

Do any of these questions resonate with you? I know they do with me. 

Sure, we can blame social media for objectifying females, but the truth is, we receive/send similar messages every day: through the way we talk to/about each other (little ears are often listening!), the way females give/receive validation and respect, the way we define health/fitness (visible abs do NOT always equal a healthy, fit body!), the way we try to attract romantic attention... Few and far between are the guys who slide into my DMs telling me what a "sweet spirit" I have. But we can't really just vilify the dudes because we're A L L part of the society which perpetuates this image-centric message. And a major conduit for this message is social media.

Social media is powerful, right? Don't get me wrong, it offers an array of benefits. It can connect like-minded individuals and twin souls (romantic/platonic). People you normally wouldn't have crossed paths with otherwise. It cultivates friendships, nourishes visions, ignites movements, sparks ideas, facilitates partnerships. But it also can send a dangerous message: that what you look like matters most. From celebrities advertising flat tummy teas, to "fitness" influencers guiding you how to transform from flab to fab, to beauty advocates teaching you how to "glow up" (all accompanied by body-baring, perfectly-poised pictures because those get the most likes) - it all solidifies the message that your image is your identity, and your source of value/worth. 

I mean, H E L L O - it's hard enough growing up and navigating puberty. But to do it in a time where beauty standards have been raised to supermodel heights - forget about it! Being constantly inundated with images of peers who have *seemingly* achieved those standards - it's beyond defeating and exhausting and disgusting. And dangerous. So so dangerous. Hence the rising rates of suicide, and bullying, and depression. 

PARENT PSA (public service announcement): Even if you spend considerable time on social media, you have no idea to what kids are really exposed. They are savvier than you are, and targeted with ideals and messages you aren't. As the article asserts:


We are here to promise you that the burden of objectification that will be placed upon your daughter’s shoulders is much, much heavier than the burden you will carry by encouraging her to stay off Instagram. Even if everyone else is on.

The article provides pros and cons for parents to consider, questions to discuss with their kids, and suggested rules for social media usage (should parents decide to allow it). Even if you don't have kids, I highly recommend reading the article, because it affects us all. None are immune.

So let's start a revolution, by first loving ourselves (see previous post for inspo!) and encouraging and allowing others to love themselves. Let's change how we talk to ourselves, how we talk to others, and how we talk about others. Let's emphasize good hearts and kind souls instead of tight bunz and toned legs. Let's promote intelligence and good vibes over beauty and looks.

And this isn't to say you have to choose between liking fashion/makeup and being a good person. Hell no! I mean, look at me - I style clients to look and feel their best, and have a whole blog section dedicated to style. To me, it's a form of art and self-expression. Where it becomes bad news is when you're unable to separate your identity from your image; when what you look like and the attention you receive control your emotions and feelings of self worth; when you let beauty standards/others' opinions keep you from living your life and doing things. For example: Are you one of those people who does juuuust enough at the gym so you can still walk out looking cute? Screw that. That right there is prioritizing your looks over your health. No bueno!! 

Let's all take care of ourselves and one another. Deal?! 



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