There is a wave of change coming. A wave of realism. The rise of people sharing their dirty, gritty, underbelly side of life and others lapping it up. In a content-hungry world, we can’t seem to get enough of seeing what goes on behind closed doors. And I love it! You know why? Because FUCK PERFECTION. I am so tired of seeing glossy, filtered, staged-for-perfection images of life. I like seeing messy, spontaneous, brazen, loud, honest, raw, provocative, audacious, imperfect, real life.
Women like Constance Hall, Mia Freedman, Taryn Brumfitt, Roxanne Gay, Celeste Barber, Lena Dunham, Hannah Gadsby. They open the doors to their real lives and minds, gloriously celebrating the parts that society has told us to hide. The power of it is immeasurable.
Generations of us were brought up on sanitised, idealistic images of life. Happy Days, Family Ties, Little House on the Prairie, The Cosby Show, Full House, The Waltons, The Brady Bunch, Bewitched. Sure, the episodes dealt with issues along the way, but always in such a quixotic, sterile way.
Social media came along to further reinforce our need for flawlessness as we shared contrived, highlight-reel snapshots of our lives. Parties, holidays, filtered photos with friends, declarations of love for our families. I’m guilty of it too. Rarely do we share the photos of us sitting in our wardrobes crying because you hate how every bit of your clothing looks on you. Or stories of how you just picked a fight with your husband because you have PMT and remember something annoying he did last week, but let it slide and now you want vengeance for it. Or how you just lost control, screaming until your throat bled, at the kid you were posting #blessed pictures of earlier today.
Yesterday morning I watched Constance Hall on instagram, filming herself while talking about how she was going to make a roast for dinner and she wasn’t going to cook potatoes. Because she hates peeling potatoes. ‘Mama hates peeling potatoes. She fucking hates it. She hates peeling potatoes more than she hates her ex-boyfriends!’ All the while, her dress was unbuttoned and her bra was showing. And I was mesmerized by it. Years ago, I’d have had thoughts like ‘Oh FFS – who cares?’ or ‘Button up your shirt love!’ But today, Con had me transfixed. And it’s because I feel that wave of change coming and I appreciate women like her who are proudly surfing at the front of it.
Tribes of women are watching videos like this and exhaling. FINALLY! I don’t want to measure myself against perfection anymore. I’m sick of feeling envy and failure every time a magazine shows me a celebrity Mum who ‘got her body back’. Or a TV show that depicts a woman getting home from her high powered job, to serve up a balanced, Michelin star worthy meal. While wearing designer clothes too! Seriously, I’m writing this in my five seasons ago Kmart active wear, that I’ve had on for two days because I didn’t sweat much yesterday and I don’t want to add to the never-ending pile of laundry my family creates. What kind of woman gets home from work and doesn’t immediately take off her bra? If I wear underwear when you visit my house, it just shows I don’t know you well enough yet!
Fuck perfection. It doesn’t exist. It is an illusion that causes great harm. Today I noticed my almost-eighteen-year-old daughter had written herself a budget on the whiteboard in her room. It listed items such as eyelash extensions, eyebrow tinting, gel nails, tanning. I felt overwhelmingly sad that she feels the need to budget her meagre earnings to include services such as these. I’m not at all condemning anyone who enjoys these beauty rituals, I’ve dappled in them all too. It just felt depressing to see the cycle of striving for physical perfection continue. And, like most Mums, I think she is pretty damn perfect without all those enhancements anyway. It bothers me that she doesn’t agree. This is predominantly an issue for women. As a society, we are still valuing our looks more than our contributions. It’s bullshit. I don’t see many teenage boys devoting their time and money to eyelash extensions, facials and fake nails. Because they simply don’t get the same pressure put on their appearance. Sadly, this is changing as the beauty industry realised they were missing out on 50% of the population and started targeting products at males. So we can probably expect to see the impact of that on the self-esteem of the upcoming generation of boys. That isn’t the sort of equality we were aiming for!
So, how do we combat this? By embracing the wave of change. Support the people who are ‘keeping it real’ and showing themselves in honest, less than flattering lights. Like Mia Freedman’s post about the bullshit automatic filter on her new phone and how it changed her skin or her confronting stomach post from a couple of years ago. Or Taryn Brumfitt’s numerous public activities designed to minimise the pressure women feel to fit a narrow ideal of beauty, such as going on national TV in her little red bikini. Roxanne Gay’s raw and candid books and essays. Follow anti-it girl Celeste Barber and her #ChallengeAccepted posts that remind us to laugh at the absurdity of the Instagram culture we’ve created. Ellen Briggs and Mandy Nolan, irreverent comedians from Women Like Us. Hannah Gadsby‘s phenomenal comedy feature Nanette – which if you haven’t seen yet, you are missing out on the most powerful show I think I’ve ever seen. And of course, Constance Hall who puts it all out there daily, warts and all. Her posts can be deliberately provocative, brutally honest and brazenly cheeky – like her Chicks Wank post that got banned on facebook – even though it was brilliantly written!
Curate your social media feeds to rid them of anyone who makes you feel crappy about yourself. If one of your brave friends puts up an honest behind-the-scenes post – like it and tell them you think they are fucking awesome for sharing. Share yours. Don’t give us just the insta-worthy stuff. To hell with the ‘don’t air your dirty laundry’ stuff. Keeping it all private hasn’t helped, let’s try being open and see where it gets us. I know even from my own blog – the ones that get the biggest interactions are the ones where I share my insecurities and doubts. It tells me we are all seeking solidarity in our imperfect little bubbles. Social media isn’t going away anytime soon. Let’s find a way to use it to support, connect and empower each other.