You can never be too insecure.

August 8, 2010 § 7 Comments


Ick. Ack. EW.

I’ve seen this ad around New York City a few times this week, and it’s gross. (Copy for Pretzel Crisps ad reads: “You can never be too thin.”)

The beauty industry — which broadly includes fashion, makeup, skincare, exercise, dieting, and food products — is like a repulsive, amorphous, self-serving beast. Corporations teach women to hate ourselves so that we will buy their products to be improved, furiously stoking the fire of our self-loathing to fill their own pockets.

Here, Pretzel Crisps is using the meme that women shouldn’t eat or enjoy food…to sell food. It’s ridiculous, and it’s insulting on innumerable levels.

They are doing this to us, but we are complying. I often imagine what would happen if women stopped hating ourselves. If we all made a pact late one night, and the next morning, just refused to accept the ritual of femininity that we’ve all been brainwashed into performing. If I was never again tempted to pluck my eyebrows? Suck in my stomach? Mentally catalogue my meals? Spend even one second’s worth of brainpower thinking about panty lines? (Because what, really, is so scandalous about me wearing underwear??)

In some ways, nothing would happen. Contrary to the cultural narrative that stresses the divine importance of female “beauty,” the earth actually would not crumble if I quit this charade.

But in some ways, everything would change. We would finally appreciate our own inherent worth. Our confidence would shine, everlastingly radiant, bright enough to shatter the dark corners of isolation where we starve and hate ourselves. All I can do is try to remember that light, shine it on my insecurities and illuminate them for the false fears they are.


§ 7 Responses to You can never be too insecure.

  • Yeah, this is right up there with the UO shirt that said “Eat Less” and the disgusting GAP ad that said “Wear pants! Because not everyone can look good in shorts.”

    I think what makes me really sick are the social groups out there dedicated to this kind of body hate. They have no product to sell, they’re just people coming together to make fun of the bodies of others. Facebook search “skinny jeans” sometime. It’ll make you sick. Or angry. Or both.

  • Melissa says:

    Ah, your description of a world without the Beauty Myth makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. 🙂

    Then again, even if all the women in the world banded together to stop playing the game, the memo would still have to get out to all the MEN in the world, or else most of us would never get laid again.

    • mirandanyc says:

      I’m a firm believer that straight guys would still find us attractive if we stopped pandering to society’s standards — probably even more attractive, since we’d be so much more confident and self-secure. (And if they all of a sudden find you repulsive? They’re probably not the kind of guy you’re looking for anyway.)

  • Elena says:

    Thing is, that there are certain beauty rituals that I really enjoy. One of the reasons why I’m a performing arts major is because I like playing with makeup/experimenting with fashion. What I’d like to see is a change in the way we view these beauty rituals: not as something arbitrary that we must do in order to be seen as pretty/acceptable, but something we do because we enjoy them. The Beauty Myth hurts men as well: a man whose fashion/beauty choices fall outside of a very narrow norm can be perceived as being “not manly”.

    • mirandanyc says:

      Definitely — I guess what I’m critiquing is the pressure we feel to perform beauty to please others. If it’s for one’s own pleasure, I’m all for it.

  • I agree with mirandanyc…I don’t think refusing to buy into all the beauty rituals would mean we’d “never get laid again.” Honestly, I’ve heard a TON of guys say they prefer women who don’t wear a lot of makeup, who don’t spend tons of time on their appearance. And believe me, more than one guy has told me he prefers unshaven legs to the prickly feel of legs that were just shaved (doesn’t matter how recently, they’re ALWAYS a little prickly if rubbed the wrong way). I mean, how would YOU like to be exfoliated below the waist while trying to have sex?

    Men will stare at girls who are perfectly “done.” But what most of the ones worth dating (or even just sleeping with) in the first place really want are girls who are confident and hygenic, interesting and fun to be with. Because let’s face it: who wants to put up with a boring nag, a jerk, or a high-maintenance narcissist just for sex with a beauty norm? Maybe a guy will do it once, or for a little while, but most won’t do it for long. And as previously pointed out, the guys who would date you if you looked this way but not that aren’t really worth the time it would take to do them.

  • @the raisin girl, I strongly agree with your thoughts. I have observed the same things that you mentioned and they are so true.

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