Buzzfeed brought together five professional models from around the world to share their thoughts on beauty and to reveal what they look like without makeup. And you know what? I was a little surprised to learn that many of them have the same hangups about looks and beauty as most women do. One of the girls shared this insight (or quote), which got me thinking…and inspired this post.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Didn’t see that coming but I knew I wanted to get into it — social comparison, that is — because some of our younger readers are dealing with it.
My first adult lesson at 13
I was hanging out with musicians in Kingston (Jamaica) one night and feeling grown. It didn’t take much effort to look older than 13, my yellow mini skirt, heels and a ton of eye makeup did the trick. In that environment, I first felt what it was like to be desired. The men were staring at me (or my legs) and I made sure they saw “enough.” I danced around provocatively and tried a little too hard to be seen. I was sipping on Coca Cola when this one guy with beautiful eyes shared his alcohol and I obliged… because remember, I wanted attention. He gave it to me but nothing overtly sexual.
Fast forward to sometime later that night when the alcohol had kicked it and I found myself passed out in the back of a van away from the event. There on top of me was a 30-something dude who I didn’t remember partying with. He had his tongue down my throat and fingers (two of them) up inside me. Panic overtook me and I froze but soon, my survival instinct kicked in. I yelled but couldn’t hear my voice so I started to fight him off. I eventually made it out of there without my underwear, shoes, and purse. It was a close call and something I blamed myself for.
That night, I didn’t learn this very valuable lesson that I want to talk about here, but it was the night that started my journey toward it. Immediately following that night, I began to carry myself in a more circumspect fashion. I realized I had come very close to being raped and in my mind then, I would have been to blame.
For a long time, I acted out of fear to be circumspect but eventually I learned this: when we can appreciate beauty but not base our self-worth on it, we won’t be easily manipulated. Looking back on that night, I put some things together for myself. One of them was that men can pick up on our thirst, some men better than others. The predatory ones will use our vulnerabilities and our need to be seen against us. When I talk to younger women who compare themselves to others on Instagram, I wish I had a way of showing them their adult selves. I wish I had a way of helping them understand that they’ll grow out of it when they begin to see their worth beyond what they look like.