Now, I don’t know about you, but I am a master at tearing myself to pieces. Some days I achieve my self-annihilation quicker than others, but all in all, I can guarantee I will have made a mental list of all my failings, flaws and bad choices at least half a dozen times within any twenty-four-hour period.  I don’t need to have beautifully flawless women without an inch of cellulite, wrinkles or excess fat shoved onto my retinas, and yet, images of such are forced on me whenever I put on the TV, look on my phone, go on social media, glance at a magazine or anything else with a hint of a screen having been behind it.  Even beautiful men with bulging muscles and a wicked, shiny smile make me feel truly dire about myself. Such Greek-looking Gods run through my mind pointing at my five-foot something lumpy frame, telling me that not only am I past being desirable, forever changed through doing something so primitive as to have children, but I’m also physically flawed beyond all attraction. 

Fortunately, I have reached an age whereby I am beginning to not give a shit.  I’ve reverted back to feeling like a kid who cares more about comfort than whether or not my derriere looks big in an ugly pair of trousers that are deemed fashionable by some all-encompassing, faceless style guru.  If what I’m wearing gives me the stretch to make chase after my four-year-old with selective hearing and a penchant for flying down skate ramps on her balance bike with no fecks given for all the professional show-offs in her way, then I count it as a win.

However, and here’s the terrifying thing for anyone with young daughters, I can still remember how socially anxious I felt when I was in my teens going all the way through into my early thirties.  I would turn up at parties and feel instantly sick, desperately wanting to run home where I could hide my body because I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough, made up enough and definitely not fashionable enough.  Sadly, from what I hear, it’s only getting worse for girls. 

Natural instincts have always had men and women wanting to be at their best to attract a mate and to strut their stuff like a peacock.  But what if your best isn’t good enough for society to deem you even remotely attractive?  And what if what is deemed as attractive is constantly changing?  What if being attractive has you injecting yourself with Botox, cutting up your body, or in tragic circumstances, have you developing mental illnesses that you might never be able to shake?

As before, when I blogged about ‘Boys’, I’m going to put a comical spin on this, otherwise, I might end up turning to wine on a school night.  However, let me be absolutely clear when I tell you, I am more than aware of how ‘unfunny’ this subject is.  I’ve lived it, breathed it and turned to the dark side because of it (which mainly consisted of listening to Radiohead on a Saturday night).  If you are currently going through this, feeling like you may as well give up now and get a posse of feline companions, please let me assure you that ninety percent of the images and messages about how to be beautiful are complete and utter dog turd. 

And as for what the opposite sex thinks, I’ve had many a conversation with guys of different ages and I can almost guarantee that a decent one won’t know if you’ve had your jawline injected to look more defined, nor will they know if you’re wearing a particular brand of clothing and are more likely to embrace your curves rather than judge them.  I can also tell you that most people aren’t looking at you to pick out your flaws, for they’ll be too busy feeling shit about their own.  I can look at my face and notice the fine laughter lines forming around my eyes, my hair which resembles a lion’s mane on a good day, and the rollops of excess bulge, but I never, ever look at my friends and spot their flaws. To me, they look just like they always have.  But that’s how marketing works. It targets what you’ve been looking at on search engines, then bombards you with images designed to make you want to pay and do whatever it takes to make yourself feel that little bit better. Mainly, buy a load of crap they’re trying to spin as the next beauty essential.

Anyway, here goes my version of someone trying to teach young, impressionable, girls how to be considered ‘beautiful’:

Ms Influencer: Good morning, ladies, welcome to Ms Influencer’s guide to being desirable in today’s society, including to other women, as well as men.  Men who you will no doubt conjure up inside your head as being just as immaculate as the women you see everyday images.  That’s right, ladies, every other person out there is flawless apart from you.  Nobody else has doubts, lines, weight issues, fears or social anxieties, just you.

Alice: Wait, my friends all moan about what they look like, so it’s not just me.

Ms Influencer: Ah, but they’re just telling you fibs to try and make you feel better, dear. Behind closed doors, they’re all secretly judging you. Now, moving on, let’s talk about weight.  I don’t think I need to tell any of you that you’re all overweight.  Might I suggest getting some good old heartbreak? Nothing quells your hunger like stress and feelings of worthlessness!

Alice: I’ve got a healthy BMI, surely that’s ok?

Ms Influencer: Maybe for your GP, but if you’re not smaller than all the other girls, including those models in the magazines, you’re not skinny enough.

Alice: Yeah, but aren’t they all airbrushed?

Ms Influencer: You still want to look like them though, ay?

(Alice slumps onto her desk because she has to admit she does.  Unbeknownst to her but the actual model who posed for those photographs wishes she looked like that in real life too.)

Ms Influencer: Right, well, the face!  Fashion is forever changing in this area but we’re wanting to go for a natural look that takes hours of makeup application but must appear to be like you’ve just woken up like that-

(Ms Influencer is interrupted by a message beeping through on her phone. She takes a moment to read it and puts up her hand in a stop sign.)

No, sorry, scrap what I just said.  The new look is ‘fake, fake, fake’, the more obvious the better.  Hair extensions, lip plumpers, lashes, boobs, the lot!

Staci:  Eyebrows?

Ms Influencer: Oh, yes, excellent point, Staci. Get them plucked off, then buy a shed load of product to pencil them all in again.  Remember, cosmetic companies want your money and are coming up with new ways to sell you shit no one really needs!  Course, you could always go down the route of microblading whereby they literally cut into your skin and use a needle to add a semi-permanent ink.  Very painful, very expensive and will also need replacing a few months down the line. I give it a big thumbs up!

Alice: What about boobs?

Ms Influencer: Another good point!  Bigger boobs have always been preferable but only if they’re fake so clothes can remain upright without the need for underwire.  And I’ve also heard the latest trend is to have a huge, but fat-free arse.  Be warned though, you are not allowed a hint of cellulite. This means unless you get surgical implants to achieve such a mountainous booty, you need to get to those surgeons and give them your money!

Alice: My boyfriend says he likes natural tits, an average-sized bottom and normal-sized lips.

Ms Influencer: Your boyfriend’s opinion should be no higher than third on your list, well below how many likes are given on your social media account and how society compares you to other women on reality TV shows.

Staci:  Speaking of, I’m set to ace my GCSEs. Should I make this known or act stupid?

Ms Influencer: Well, that all depends.  If you want to aspire to be a reality TV star, you should really be concentrating on what you look like and definitely act stupid.  No one wants to listen to you talking about scientific theories or the literary devices of famous poets.  All they really want to know is who you’re sleeping with, how many people you’ve slept with and who you’re cheating with.  Those people on TV are the ones making millions while you’re overworked doctor and dejected teacher are barely making enough to get onto the property ladder.  If you’re really lucky you can go on one of those shows where you run around naked and sleep with copious amounts of men who only see you as a pair of tits and a vagina, then talk crap about you behind your back to the entire nation.  Or you can go on a show where you bare your uglies and wait in the hopes that some other weirdo picks you out based on your nether regions.

Alice: Sounds appealing!

Ms Influencer: I know, right?

Staci:  While we’re on the topic of sex, should I be considered promiscuous or virginal?

Ms Influencer:  This is a hard question, girls, one which has been around since the beginning of time.  Even poor old Eve got judged for being naked in the garden of Eden.  You should appear to be sexy, throw your body about like you’re imitating the act, wear next to nothing, but also appear modest.  You must give the impression you are sexually open but maintain your virginity until you meet that one special boy (who, by the way, must have slept with at least a dozen girls before meeting you).  When you finally gift him with your virtue you must enjoy every second of it, moan and sigh like you’re eating forbidden chocolate for the very first time and ignore the inevitable pain and awkwardness of what is essentially an alien invasion inside of your nether regions.

Alice: But I’ve already slept with a few boys and I kind of liked it.  It was liberating and I don’t see why I should have to hold back if boys are expected to put ‘it’ about.

Ms Influencer: Slut!

Staci: I’m not sure I even want to do it yet, boyfriend or not!

Ms Influencer: Frigid!

Alice: So, you’re saying we should focus on our looks, which will never be good enough, lose weight, even though we should be embracing our curves, be seen to be sexually enlightened but not in practice, use corrective surgery to try and perfect ourselves according to today’s fashion, even though it could well change overnight, and aspire to be a reality TV star?

Ms Influencer: Precisely!  And don’t forget to head on over to the nearest cosmetic counter and spend, spend, spend!  Debt is something to worry about when you’re older.

Staci: But what about when we’re considered too old for such things?  Won’t we need something to fall back on? And won’t surgical procedures eventually cause irreversible changes to our bodies?

Ms Influencer: Oh, dear, you don’t need to worry about that.  By the time you’re thirty, you’ll be past it, so you won’t care. Neither will society!

Staci: Wait, aren’t you over thirty?  You don’t look like you’ve had a lick of surgery and from your suit and bags of money hanging from your armpits, I would say you’ve had to use your brain to get to where you are today.

Ms Influencer: Don’t do as I do, ladies, do as I say! 

(Ms Influencer takes to her leave to return to her multi-million pound company, selling crap no one really needs by convincing people they are ugly and worthless without it.)

I get I’ve been on my soapbox for this post but as a mum of two girls, one who is only nine and already worrying about the fact she doesn’t look good enough, it truly terrifies me that they’re going to be entering this superficial, ‘you will never be enough’, society.  Schools are constantly being told to educate children to accept who they are and to rate themselves higher than a stagnant turd, however, with everything else, which is deemed as being ‘cool’, telling you otherwise, it’s a hard task.  I won’t stop trying, though.  Just know that one day, when you’re past the peacock stage, you can hopefully give toxic advertising and marketing the finger.

‘The Darkness Within’ is due out soon! Find out more by following me on:

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