When I was a teenager in the ’90s, Calvin Klein ads were something of an inspiration to me. Oh, how my friends and I wanted so desperately to look like that emaciated and utterly perfect Kate Moss, whose jeans just hung off her skeletal frame exposing her bright tighty whities in all of their glory. Each time I felt the urge to grab for that bag of Funyuns in the pantry, I would remind myself that if I wanted to look anything like that twig-like Brit plastered on my wall, I better eat a carrot instead.
Now I am in my mid-thirties, and Ms. Moss has been replaced by another teenager with a perfect body, Kendall Jenner.
At this point in life, after birthing two children and suffering the average wear and tear that nearly four decades of life does to a woman’s body, I have abandoned the notion that I will look anything like that supermodel in my Calvins. And while I am learning how to be okay with that, as my body has accomplished far greater fetes than modeling athletic underwear, it’s just another reminder that I am not perfect, which sort of stings.
Last week Brenda DeRouen, who is “on a journey to fully love” herself, grabbed headlines when she published a series of photographs on her Oh, Brenda! blog recreating Jenner’s scintillating ads, showing off the stretch marks she has learned to love after nearly a decade of “self-hatred.”
The single mother and attorney, who earned her stripes at 17 when she was pregnant with her son, enlisted the help of professional photographer Deun Ivory to help her “celebrate the end” of her body insecurities by flaunting her “imperfections,” a move one million times more empowering to women than Kim Kardashian’s naked bathroom selfie.
I consider myself a gutsy human. As a writer, I am constantly spilling my guts to the world, exposing (often unfavorable) information about myself to complete strangers and garnering nasty comments in the process. But never have I ever posted a photo on social media showcasing what I perceive as my physical flaws. Why? Because there are things about myself that I don’t like, and I don’t want you to know about them. This is ridiculous for several reasons, but mainly because you, I, and almost every other woman on the planet are struggling with the reality that we don’t fall into that ideal of “perfection,” which houses around .01 percent of the population.
“You may not have stretch marks from pregnancy, hell; you may not have stretch marks at all. But I guarantee you there is something that you are struggling with,” DeRouen says in her blog post accompanying the photo spread. “Whether it’s your weight, your hair, or your breast size. Just know that there is no such thing as a perfect body.” This may not be breaking news, but it certainly is a bold reminder for me, a former skinny person who is having a hard time learning to love my body since giving birth to my second child this year.
Many people would like to blame “the media” for promoting this warped ideal of perfection, but they are only following a simple supply and demand business model that is fueled by, get this, us.
DeRouen, along with celebrities like Lena Dunham and Amy Schumer, who are redefining Hollywood standards by unapologetically showing off their far from supermodel-like naked bodies, are truly walking the walk, which make them role models for the rest of us.
If we want things to change, we need to stop slaving away to the ideal of perfection and follow DeRouen’s lead of learning to love and celebrate our bodies — stretch marks, flabby boobs, fat rolls, thin hair, small foreheads, and all.
Next time you stand in front of the mirror naked, or put on a swimsuit for an afternoon at the pool, remember Brenda DeRouen’s message: “You are beautiful. Every scar and every imperfection, has a story that makes you uniquely you. Your body is your temple. Embrace it and show it the love and attention that it needs. Never let anyone make you feel like your body is not worthy of appreciation.”More On