As a girl who openly admits to using social media probably a bit too much, I’ll be the first to admit that I say a lot of silly and mindless things. Whether it’s a pointless tweet appreciating the dancing sharks in the 2015 SuperBowl or posting a ridiculous video on Facebook of cats jumping to AWOLNATION’s song “Sail,” most of my posts, comments, and tweets can definitely be summed up as unnecessary .
But I want to focus on the posts, comments, and tweets I’ve been seeing for a few months now that keep getting at me. When I first saw it in a comment on Instagram, I was just confused. Why would anyone even think that’s a compliment since it’s so unrealistic? Then when I saw it in comments on friends’ Facebook pictures, and then in tweets about celebrities – men and women – my annoyance level escalated.
What is it that I’m referring to? Let me tell you:
A girl posts a picture on Instagram. It could be a selfie. Or it could be her with some girlfriends. Or maybe even her boyfriend. And she’s looking really pretty/cute/beautiful/gorgeous…you fill in the blank for a complimenting word.
But what do girls AND guys these days say in their comments when they’re trying to be complimentary? “Omg you’re perfect!” “No, stop, YOU’RE perfect!”
I kid you not. ‘Perfect‘ has become the new favorite compliment.
Here’s another one: ‘flawless.’ As in, someone updates their Facebook profile picture. A friend comments, “you’re flawless!”
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, both “flawless” and “perfect” are defined as “being entirely without fault or flaw.” Last time I checked, we as human beings are not “entirely without fault or flaw.”
So why does this bother me so much? Because it portrays an unrealistic expectation and inaccurately describes us as human beings. I have nothing wrong with complimenting friends on a picture they post and focusing on how they look, but why do we have to tell them they appear in a way we all know they don’t?
I know that most people would tell me, “Drop it Alyssa, who cares if people say ‘you’re perfect’ or ‘you’re beautiful.’ What’s the big deal?” To me, there is a bigger deal here. Both men and women are constantly struggling with their body image on a day to day basis, and it only hurts rather than helps people when we use terms like “flawless” and “perfect” as description words for one another. It creates this unrealistic expectation that we as humans can achieve perfection in one way or another, when this is known to be false. Not only this, but these words give us false confidence that we actually are perfect and without a fault or flaw.
Do we really want to pretend that we are something we are not? Why not celebrate the imperfections we possess, and enjoy the fact that in spite of not being flawless, we possess such specific flaws and qualities that make up our very being? That set us apart from the crowd? That create an individual that can’t be anyone or anything else?
I know that I possess the strength of appreciating individualization, so this is definitely where this little rant is stemming from. But I also wish the rest of the world could begin to wrap their minds around the beauty seen in common or uncommon imperfections, and how each individual imperfection and flaw sets us apart from one another. It’s what defines us and separates us from someone else. Our faults give us character, something to work on, something to appreciate, and even to celebrate!
What is a scar from a skateboarding accident? It’s physical proof of a great story just waiting to be told – and it clearly makes someone flawed and imperfect from otherwise “perfect” skin.
What is an emotional scar from a traumatic event? It is one that shapes us and grows us into who we can become, and remind us that we are not defined by our pasts. It is evidence of our imperfect nature, and how we can discover the beauty within the mess.
So I challenge all of us to stop commenting on our friends’ pictures with so-called compliments like “OMG you’re perfect!” or “Dang you are flawless!” Because, at the end of the day, isn’t it more fun to be recognized by your distinctive imperfections that set you apart from one another than your apparent “flawlessness” that would make you blend into a crowd?
Let’s try to celebrate each others’ flaws and imperfections, and discover the beauty in the commonness of one another. Let’s focus on flaws. Celebrate blemishes. Cheer on mistakes we now see. Appreciate what we’ve learned from a mess.
Let’s stop using “perfect” and focus on the beauty we find in the common. Because that is what deserves to be celebrated.
Just some thoughts and whatnots. Enjoy!
If you’re wondering what #BeautyInTheCommon is all about, check out the webpage www.beautyinthecommon.com, and go to my friend Ian Simkins’ wordpress to learn more about this movement that he created. There’s also a Facebook page for it, too.
PS – If you’re looking for more posts on beautiful messes, check out my blog post on eating disorders here