When perfect isn’t perfect enough

(Warning: this post contains a rant that makes me sound very much like ‘my mother’!)

I was at the hairdressers at the weekend, getting my locks revived and tidied. I go every 6-8 weeks and it’s a real treat. I get to sit down for three hours and chat to my hairdresser (who’s become a friend now), have a cappuccino and flick through the women’s mags. Bliss.

I don’t buy mags or look at them much anymore, other than in the hairdresser’s.  I was given a copy of OK with a pregnant woman on the front, who I thought at first glance was Natalie Imbruglia. I realised it wasn’t quite right but when I saw that it was in fact Corrie starlet Helen Flanagan I was amazed and kind of horrified.

The picture of her didn’t look anything like what I remembered her to look like. I can last recall seeing her in I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here a few years ago. But looking at her face now I saw nothing but a doll. An expressionless doll.

What had they done to her? Had they photoshopped her beyond recognition? Had she had surgery, other than the boobs that is? Surely not, she’s so young (just 24)! Yet now she looks so much older. Granted, there’s a lot of make up and her hair is longer and dark now, but it was more the slither straight nose, and overly full cheeks and lips that made her look odd. As well as not one sign of a line on her brow.


Before the boobs   Image from http://www.fansshare.com/

It might surprise you to know that I’m not a cosmetic surgery prude. If you want it, do it. I’ve no right to judge what people choose to do to themselves. But I thought it was kind of ironic that Helen looked so plastic and fake – that she’d been made to look like a ‘perfect’ version of herself – yet she was proudly showing a baby bump!

A baby growing and developing into a human. Fingers, toes, a button nose.

What if her baby had a disfigurement? Or if her baby was perfect, would she find fault in it? Would she want her ‘perfect’ baby (all mums see their babies as perfect no matter what they look like!) to grow up to have a nip and tuck?

At what point are the lines are blurred between society’s perceptions of a ‘perfect’ child and an ‘imperfect’ adult? We wouldn’t Photoshop our kids, so why do we feel we should Photoshop ourselves?

Does her own mother feel hurt that she disliked what was already a naturally beautiful body so much that she had it altered? I snigger a bit at this, as I really have ‘got old’ in my views! I remember when I was 18 and I got my belly button pierced. I LOVED it. I went and proudly showed my mum but she just sighed and was very sad that I’d ‘ruined’ what was a lovely midriff. I laughed it off, but of course she was right! After four children, my belly button is now disfigured thanks to the pierced holes stretching and pigmenting. Not so sexy now are we?!

But a piercing isn’t permanent. I also have a tattoo in memory of my daughter, so I’ve made a permanent change to my body that I’m aware other people would find unsightly. Seriously, though, if Ponymad Girl had body art I wouldn’t mind, but if she wanted to fill her cheeks out, operate on her already perfect nose and inject Botox into her head (at 24!) then I would find it hard to understand why.

It was Helen’s altered facial features that bothered me. I wonder what message she’s giving out to others – girls her age or younger, who aspire to be like her? To her child, whether it’s a boy or a girl?

When I look at pictures of myself or my mum or sisters, I see our lives – our joys, our hardships, our sorrows –  in our faces. We all love to wear a bit of make-up to enhance our features. I was at the hairdressers getting my hair made blonder for goodness’ sake! But under all that I still can see the lives we’ve lived. The love we’ve given. The tears we’ve shed.

My debate is nothing new. I know Helen isn’t in isolation, she’s keeping up with the demands of the industry. Celebrities can’t win. For every perfect photo there’s another picking out faults with their skin or clothing. It’s no wonder some just keep trying to please. But who are they trying to please? And why?

After my pregnancies my stomach is a big bag of skin, and surgery is something I’d seriously consider (although money is the key factor here and I’m not that bothered anymore in any case). No amount of weightloss or exercise will repair it. When I was younger, I lost confidence in myself as a result of how my body looked and that does impact on my life, but it’s not everything. Now, I’ve come to accept it and see it as a reminder of the babies I’ve made. Battle scars!

When used to help someone recover, to correct a problem area, I feel cosmetic surgery is definitley a solution. I’ve seen it change the lives of friends. But to do it purely to make a more perfect version of you, I simply don’t understand… But then, I use an Instagram filter to make me look less tired and blotchy… a better version of me perhaps? So who am I to talk?

I’ve tried to write this without sounding like I’m anti-cosmetic, because I’m definitely not. I would take mascara onto a desert island! But I just feel sad that some people aren’t happy in their own skin, especially when it’s in its youthful prime. I feel sad that society isn’t happy with looking at reality. That we strip all the emotion from faces. As a stick-thin size 10-12, I recall feeling flabby before I had children, blimey what was I complaining about!?

What do you think? Are we guilty of judging everyone else and aiming for perfection when in fact we’re just as bad? Or do you think celebrities and the magazines that cover them, go too far?


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21 thoughts on “When perfect isn’t perfect enough

  1. What I find really sad is how much worse things have gotten since we were teenagers ourselves (I’m 30). It seems magazines now all have impossibly thin, airbrushed women in them and it makes the stakes so much higher for teenage girls these days. #brillblogposts

  2. I think it is such a shame that what is classed as perfection now keeps changing with time. The people that strive for perfection are at risk of never being happy with how they are. It’s such a shame that people can’t be happy with the real them, rather than aiming to look like Barbie dolls/airbrushed models.

    Emma | frillsanddoodads.com

  3. I agree with you, it amazes me that at such young ages these women are having plastic surgery. It’s like megan fkx, she’s what in her 20’s and she had had face work done. It’s crazy. Plastic surgery used to be for middle age woman who wanted to look younger but not anymore.

    • It’s a scary prospect and just sad. I’m loving CBB and I hope people learn about what celebrity does to you. Katie Price said she has regrets (not surprising seeing as her boob is hanging out her skin!)

  4. It’s horrific to have 20 or 30 something (or women of any age for that matter) go under the knife and turn into someone you cannot even recognise anymore. I don’t think plastic surgery make you look younger or prettier. It just makes you look like you’ve had plastic surgery (with the exemption of some smaller operations).

  5. As actresses got older, it always seemed the norm to get plastic surgery and while it isn’t really something I’m an advocate of, I thought fair enough – they make their living from their face essentially. But when young people are doing it, I just dont really comprehend being that insecure at that age and changing your face beyond all recognition. Baffles me x

  6. I’ve no idea who that woman is, but think she looks far better in the original photo. The latest one looks so fake. Like you, I’m not averse to cosmetic surgery – it can make a real difference to people. I also like a bit if make-up, and Instagram filters – I think the difference is we’re trying to look like better versions of ourselves, rather than striving for impossible perfection, which I think a lot of the Botox is about. Oh, and I have two tattoos – one for Hugo, the other done when I was 19. #brilliantblogposts xxx

  7. Wow, I don’t think I would have recognised her at all. I don’t think anything in better than natural beauty, despite what the media would have us believe. I worry about the future for my own daughter and if she will be made to feel that she doesn’t fit in because of a small aspect of herself. Great post! #brilliantblogposts

  8. Celebrities and magazines definitely go too far! They’re pushing an unrealistic image of ‘perfect’ which young women in particular feel they have to aspire to and then feel low and even ashamed when they can’t achieve it.

  9. It really is depressing especially as surgery can do the opposite of its intention. I like you and the others don’t condone surgery, people should be free to do what makes them feel better but it’s sad she felt at that age, she had to have it. I think the media plays a big part in this-it’s hard on female actresses to get work as Sian says and it’s a huge pressure for them. I hope we are a tipping point, where aging and the meaning of beauty is changing. I’m all for self improvement and make up is my armour but you’re right this quest for perfection which doesn’t exist is getting out of control #brilliantblogposts x

  10. What a fantastic and very thought provoking post lovely. It’s so sad though, and I agree with other comments that it feels we are in a much worse place with this than when we were kids. The idea of ‘perfection’ is rammed down our throats by the media and advertising industry, and to avoid it we have to actively tune out to it. I started doing this (after going through two mental breakdowns in four years) and nowadays don’t buy magazines, reality watch tv or have any interest in the celeb world. It’s a bit of a bubble, but I like it like this xx

  11. Pingback: When plastic surgery goes terribly wrong - Urban Mumble

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