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Wednesday, February 27, 2013


“All standards of beauty are time limited and arbitrary, determined, as they are, by qualities a particular culture values. You have simply learned the beauty rules of your culture. Indeed, you have learned them too well. . . . Challenge the external authority that taught you to look at yourself with disgust. Who says that one body is more attractive than another?”

--Jane R. Hirschmann, When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies

It’s really weird to me that I tried so hard and almost killed myself to achieve a standard of beauty that is not only bound to change, but also impossible. Seriously. With the amount of photoshopping and airbrushing that happens these days, the media is imprinting on our minds a standard of beauty that can’t and doesn’t exist in real life. Cover models don’t look like that in real life.

Standards of beauty have changed over time. Even in my (relatively) short life, the beauty standard has changed from big hair, broad shoulders, tiny butt in the 1980’s, to waif thin in the 90’s, to athletic (“strong is the new sexy”). Even more pronounced is the changes in beauty standards over time. Historically, paintings, sculpture and other art forms have shown the evolution of beauty. The only consistency is that what is beautiful is determined by what signifies wealth and success. From pale skin and curvy, voluptuous bodies, to skinny and tan. Back in the day, pale skin meant you didn’t have to work outside. A voluptuous body meant you were well fed and therefore well off. NOW a tan means you can afford to travel (or go to the tanning salon), and a thin body means you have the money and time required to maintain it.

Here are some arbitrary beauty rules I have noticed  in my time:

1) Skin should be blemish and wrinkle free
2) Hair should be shiny and full at all times, even when just out of the shower or in bed
3) Men may go bald, get a belly, age . . . their wives must not (see any commercial ever)
4) There should be less of me in the world (“more grains, less you”--Cheerios)
5) You legs should be long and lean even if you were born to be 5 feet tall
6) Face must be symmetrical
7) The body is made to show off current fashion trends, not the other way around
8) You must look like you have makeup on without actually wearing makeup
9) You must be hairless all over your body, except your eyebrows (which must be perfect without grooming), eyelashes, and hair
10) If you are ever happy with your looks, you are not only vain, but also wrong.
11) You must be skinny, but also have a plump behind and full chest. And they must not be fake.
12) Rules are subject to change for no apparent reason. FOREVER. And you must change with them.

Apparently being beautiful is for a select few only. And too bad for the rest of us. Studies have shown, ironically, that people whose features are more representative of the average in terms of size and shape are considered more attractive. So I guess to be beautiful, you have to be average. But the right kind of average. . .

At CFC we’re guarded from the onslaught of media-produced, computer-generated women. I’m learning to be glad that I’m not one of them. I’m learning to be happy being “unconventionally beautiful.” I think some of the most fabulous women in the world are also fabulously “flawed.” And lets be honest, if someone is ugly on the inside, no amount of money or surgery or genetic blessings can cover that up. I think the standard of inner beauty has remained consistent, timeless; it won’t ever be out of fashion.

So maybe that’s a standard more worthy of our effort..

Here is an interesting article from about the evolution of beauty.


  1. Love love LOVE this post. Well said, Camilla.

  2. This reminds me of Jennifer Grey from Dirty Dancing and her nose job. She got her "flawed" nose fixed, and now nobody recognizes her. It ruined her career, she's even said it's one of her biggest regrets.

  3. Absolutely brilliant and profound. I had a professor once who explained that scarcity defines beauty, then she went into many eye-opening historical/modern details (of our culture and others). You have so much insight, Camilla. Your experiences and perspective are going to change lives! Best of luck in recovery! Our prayers are with you.

  4. I love this!! What an artificial and flaky world we live in! I think authentic and true happiness is being comfortable in your own skin, regardless of all the world's current "rules!!" Keep up the recovery! Our prayers continue for you!!!

  5. Wishing you the best, Camilla. I have been where you are and I know the challenges and rewards that come with recovery. I can tell that you are a strong person. Be patient with yourself; we tend to be our own worst critic. Please continue to post and let us all know how recovery is going for you. Have you been discharged or are you still at CFC? Congratulations on your progress. I care!