Fat, frumpy, beat, gross, ugly, flat, beast: These are just a small handful of the words thrown nonchalantly at women (or behind their backs) in regards to physical appearance.
We are too masculine, too done up or too disproportionate to possibly fit into a standard that can never be met.
The social norms that dictate our beauty standards have evolved over the last several decades. I don’t care who you are, it is impossible not to care or be aware of how you look.
Women – truly, everyone – want to feel beautiful. Unfortunately, this feeling that engulfs confidence, happiness and poise often comes from the validation of others.
We are still using “plus-size” to describe women who are deemed lovely enough to be models because they still have to be defined by their weight.
We applaud those who have made it despite having a darker skin complexion, shorter limbs or wider hips.
We still point out these differences as if they are a mark of adversity rather than of beauty without regulation.
Today, however, our society took a giant step toward understanding the notion of feeling beautiful.
Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, stepped out into the world as a trans woman who looks and feels beautiful.
She is gorgeous not because of her newly shaped face, breasts or long locks, but because she has emerged as a woman who loves herself.
As Caitlyn told Vanity Fair, she wanted to relinquish the secret she had been hiding for so long:
“If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life. You never dealt with yourself,’ and I don’t want that to happen.”
Caitlyn was insecure about her gender identity misaligning with the sexual anatomy she had been born with, and millions of others relate to that same level of physical insecurity and displacement.
Yet, we still are unsure how to address it.
We sit in tanning beds, have our eyelids restructured, get implants, have tummy tucks and get extensions to measure up to "acceptable" forms of physical appearance.
The internal pressure we place on ourselves is tremendous, but admitting that out loud is rarely done.
Caitlyn addresses this head on. Yes, she is specifically dealing with being trans, but the transparency she is bestowing upon the world is a public victory for the power of unveiling our deepest woes about our bodies.
What if we talked about the way we pick ourselves apart?
What if we emerged from the shadows of self-deprecation and found we are not alone in our secrets of self-loathing? What if we all had the guts to be our own version of Caitlyn Jenner?
For the former Olympian champion, Bruce, there was never a moment for him to be happy, full and true to who he really was: Caitlyn.
As women who are up against labels such as fat, frumpy, gross and ugly, we, too, mask our best selves by slumping our shoulders, hiding our perceived flaws or escaping ourselves through substance abuse or other extreme outlets.
We are physically debilitated, but fill-in-the-blank. We are curvy, but funny. We are flat, but generous. We are beastly, but athletic.
When do we get to be happy with our true selves? When do we get to be our own Caitlyn?
The answer is when we start taking responsibility for how we speak to or about others; when we embrace Caitlyn and all she stands for.
We stop telling people they look skinny, and, instead, we tell them they look beautiful and healthy.
We start speaking up about our insecurities and the hurt they cause us in order to connect and collaborate with others who feel the same.
Rather than body shame someone for being too skinny or too fat, we understand talking about one another’s appearance can be harmful.
We start taking action instead of silently promising to diet, snip or adjust our insecurity.
We consider this an issue that causes violence, death and depression rather than an issue full of vanity and ego.
We begin to appreciate the effort Caitlyn Jenner put forth in order to fulfill her own beauty standard.
We stop labeling other people, and we sure as hell stop labeling ourselves.
Caitlyn Jenner is new to this high-standard society, but she is powerful, beautiful and real.
She is not a beautiful woman because of any perfect procedure. She is a beautiful woman because she is living her truth.
It’s 2015. It’s time to start expanding our ideals and appreciating ourselves.
It’s okay to care about what we look like, but why not talk about it and inspire a better conversation?