Embracing the Ugly Creates Beauty

5 Apr

Our media, our society — regardless of chicken or the egg theories — they are obsessed with beauty. But, I say, ugly is the new beautiful and here’s why.

{Embracing the Ugly Creates Beauty}

Truth be told, for most of my life I have been obsessed with beauty.
As a young girl to young woman, I would constantly be checking out other females, truly studying what it was that made them so attractive and beautiful, then immediately compared myself to them. I also was an ardent perfectionist and purist.

I thought that if a woman had one blemish or undesirable physical trait that then she was not truly beautiful or that somehow on a sliding scale her beauty was diminished.

I can’t say where this fervor for perfection or the pursuit of beauty came from since my childhood was not media saturated or a high-pressure environment for aesthetics. I could go into theories, but the origin is not relevant to the impact that I had on me.

State Medalist Robin Wallace, at 17, featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer as the dark horse of the 1998 track season.

My dissecting study of beauty left me completely disempowered with embracing who it is that I am, all that I am, as well as, all that I am not and being completely comfortable and confident in that.

Prior to 18 years of age, I somehow came to believe that a woman or girl was less of a person if she had cellulite.

For example, there I was at the prime of my girlish figure, 5’8″ (I’ve since grown another 2 inches) running track & field, being a record-setting hurdler and weighing a solid 130-pounds as a lean string bean, and yet, believing that I had fat legs because when I poked my relaxed thigh, I could see dimpling.

The conclusion I drew was that I wasn’t pretty, that I was fat and that I would have to work harder at getting those truly beautiful legs that other women or girls had.

I simply could not accept myself because perfection wasn’t present and thereby, beauty was not achieved.

At now 30-going-on-31, having had a child and weighing a solid 140-pounds, my study of beauty has shifted. Instead of being awed by perfection, I am awestruck by imperfect woman who have the grace, charm and confidence which outshines the world’s most desired super model.

Their ability to admit to cellulite, stretch marks and love handles leaves me aghast in their boldness.

To me, these woman have become like Joan of Arc, carrying a banner to rally the masses into a revolt of acceptance.

But, I must point out that this is not a battle cry for resignation, rather it is a conversation of authenticity: Being real about what is and what isn’t, then simply being OK with that.

Recently, I have been absolutely thrilled to see a number of stars take this stance in the media, specifically in the March 14th issue of Life & Style Weekly. Here’s what some celebs had to say about their bodies and cellulite:

“I’ve got cellulite but I love it,” Jessica Alba, 29.

“I have a body that girls can go, ‘She looks healthy and she’s got cellulite, yeah!,’ ” said Hayden Panettiere, 21.

“My so-called fabulous shape is the result of very clever air brushing,” said Sienna Miller, 29.

Holly Madison has come under criticism recently that she needs to loose 10+ pounds. Currently, she weighs 115 pounds and stands 5'7" yet, her BMI calculates as underweight.

“I have a lovely thing called cellulite on my butt,” said Jennifer Love Hewitt, 32.

“I have cellulite — and had it even when I was at my absolute thinnest. I am never not going to have cellulite,” said Holly Madison, 32.

With the untold pressures that these women have for maintaining their bodies and beauty as part of their profession, it is refreshing to hear their candid remarks, as well as to see their images published without the help of Photoshop and airbrushing.

Moreover, their ability to embrace their “ugly aspects” says that they have more beauty than a perfect body and asymmetrical face ever could possess. It is by baring with raw openness who it is that we really are, without the facade or pretense, that the beauty of the human soul can be expressed.

The strength to do so is immense, as exposing our weaknesses (or at least, what we have come to agree as a majority of society as “something not desired”) increases our vulnerability.

And yet, this is a thing of beauty, to stand figuratively naked before the world and not flinch, but instead glow solely from what’s within, refusing to hide the ugly spots with the aid of make-up, clothes, digital technology, surgery, fad diet drugs and treatments, or just plain words of denial.

My Grandmother & I, no make-up, no retouching, just us. Click to read about her perspective of vintage.

Today, my study of beauty has turned into a study of ugly.

Finding that the ugliest scars or truths left exposed and worn proudly, as the natural fabric of human existence, is true beauty.

I never considered those who achieved perfection through cosmetic surgery as truly beautiful, either, because to me, it seemed like cheating. Now, my perspective of plastic surgery is that only those post-25-years-old should engage in it.

Maintenance work, especially to repair the damages of bearing children, is fine as is any work done, but only after a person has truly and honestly accepted their current physicality and doesn’t see the alterations as a means for greater happiness or fulfillment.

Mostly, I am “fine” with plastic surgery because I have come to be more accepting of the variations that beauty presents itself as.

If you want to know more about cellulite and why women get it (because we are literally made to have it: has something to do with being created to bare children, store fat and expand for all the above) then read this amazing article by Dr. Len Kravitz. Cellulite: Everything You Want to Know and More

What impact does it have on you to see “real women” in the media, or to have celebs disclose their “real woman ugly” issues? Discuss on Thrifty Vintage Chic Facebook fan page

All images on Thrifty Vintage Chic are shot in the context of real life. All images on Thrifty Vintage Chic are free from post-production “airbrushing” or touch-ups. All images and written copy on Thrifty Vintage Chic are copyright protected and may not be used without first gaining written permission.

6 Responses to “Embracing the Ugly Creates Beauty”

  1. savethekales April 5, 2011 at 7:09 PM #

    I’m really glad you wrote this. Thank you.


    • Thrifty Vintage Chic April 5, 2011 at 8:15 PM #

      🙂 I am glad I did too! I hope the world will get a chance to read it because I feel the more we speak about the stories we make up over beauty versus the reality of it, the healthier we all will be as individuals and a global society.


  2. Dawn April 7, 2011 at 3:00 PM #

    That picture of you is amazing.

    You are a strong amazon warrior woman.

    I wonder what we would be thinking about if we weren’t agonizing over our collective cellulite as women? A cure for children’s cancer? Mathematics? Feeding the world? A pity so much of life force and brain power is wasted on some dimples. Appreciate your calling our culture out on this.

    We have to be carefully taught we are ugly. I never thought about it until mean girls at jr. high told me I was the ugliest girl who ever lived because I have (apparently, the worst crime against G-D)a BIG nose. It seems in blow-hole size America-noseland,a big nose is worse than child molestation, worse than cancer, worse than genocide. To this day, adult men and women will still, occasionally, comment on my BIG nose. Only now, you know what I say? “Yes, I had it made BIGGER so it would give people like you with nothing else in their lives something to talk about.” I never had it fixed. My best friend/husband of 33 years thinks I’m a goddess. Of course, all those people who think I have a BIG nose have crummy relationships. But a BIG nose is worse, right?(wink-wink)


    • Thrifty Vintage Chic April 7, 2011 at 3:08 PM #

      Beauty is perception, and the perception is created and fostered by society’s culture. For example, in most place a unibrow is an unattractive quality, however, for Tajik women it is a sign of true beauty … and for those women not lucky enough to be born with one eyebrow for both eyes, they manifest a unibrow through make-up to be deemed more beautiful.

      Dawn, I love that you haven’t changed and can point out other’s pettiness when it comes up.


  3. Dawn April 7, 2011 at 3:05 PM #

    PS: Your grandmother is a goddess, too.


    • Thrifty Vintage Chic April 7, 2011 at 3:10 PM #

      Isn’t she?!!!? I just adore her!! And she hardly thinks she is … but I tell her all the time, even so!


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