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Being a woman

Since we can think back, society has been shaped by ideals. Every day, we are confronted countless times with any ideal ideas and measure ourselves by how well we can achieve or implement them. One of the best-documented and most sought-after ideals is, oh wonder, the ideal of beauty.


But where does this ideal of beauty come from, who shapes it and who gives it so much power? If we go back in history, one of the first ideals of beauty we encounter is the one of ancient Egyptian culture. Those who now think of Cleopatra are not so far off the mark, but the beauty of Nofretete, whose name means "Beauty has come", is even better documented. If one describes her as the ideal image of women at that time, then harmonious facial features, a long and slender neck and pronounced female curves with rather small breasts should have been considered desirable. By the way, the eyelid line and lip red were already fashionable at that time.


Here is a little smartass alarm: When we talk about ideals of beauty, we refer to the appearance of body and face. Everything that has to do with clothing, jewellery, make-up or hair is what we call fashion.


I am not going to guide you through the beauty ideals of centuries or even decades, although that would be an exciting story. You can read a great article about this in issue 32 of the Vintage Flaneur (sorry, just in German). By the way, it's a magazine that I can wholeheartedly recommend. But now back to the topic.

 

Where do they come from, these guidelines of society, what a beautiful woman has to look like? They come from ourselves. There have always been women who have become role models of beauty through their position or popularity. Quasi the influencers of the time. Sometimes the women wanted to look like Cleopatra, sometimes they wanted curves like Marilyn Monroe and then again, barely 10 years later, the women bandaged their breasts all over the country to look as androgynous as Twiggy.

Sonja aka Isabelle Bella Curvy Model
Sonja aka Isabelle Bella Curvy Model

 Even though we have the feeling that the expectations of our appearance have never been as high as they are today, this is only half true. First and foremost, the media that convey the ideal have changed. Today we are showered every day with some beautiful pictures of women who either know how to use Photoshop, inherit damn good genes, or have the whole day to train, get settled and travel halfway around the world to send a perfect three hour 1000 shot Instagram snapshot to my breakfast table and mess up my honey roll.

Never before have we been so exposed to the influence of the media as we are today. You no longer have to leave the house to buy a magazine or visit the cinema to be confronted with the beauties of our time. A simple grip on the mobile phone is all it takes and we are connected to all the beauty requirements of the virtual world.

It is not easy not to compare oneself involuntarily with one's role models. Even for women with a healthy self-confidence this is sometimes difficult. People like to ignore the fact that successful influencers and top models live from looking good and therefore often have enough time (and money) to take care of their appearance.  We inevitably wonder why we don't manage to look like that. We spend our time visiting the gym, making appointments with the beautician and looking for the perfect outfit in great clothes stores. At least in my case, my wallet is the only one to lose weight, my belly stays where it is. But hey, at least I have some new clothes that hide my belly perfectly. Self-acceptance, self-esteem or even self-love, where are you when I need you?

Corinne aka Vivienne Deville
Corinne aka Vivienne Deville

 But there is hope! At least a small one. Apparently, the fashion industry has also noticed how unhealthy the Size Zero trend is. Or perhaps they have simply found out that ordinary people do not fit into the clothes they are trying to sell? Never mind. In any case, curvy models are now fully in. We watch as curvy women wiggle across the catwalk in model series, swing their full breasts cheerfully across the catwalks of this world (or at least of this model series) without a bra and propagate the new femininity.

Why this dripping irony? Because here again an ideal is cultivated. Because none of these perfect, curvy women has pimples, cellulite or overweight in the wrong places. The faces are beautiful, there are no unattractive scars and every gram of fat is in the perfect place.

Sure, I think it's great that a certain trend reversal is taking place. But in general I am really tired of any trends. Because our world only becomes colourful through all the variety! This constant categorisation and comparison makes us sick. Hey, which one of us would still have fun eating if we had the same food every day? Even I couldn't stuff burgers and ice cream into myself every day. Or imagine you would have to wear the same clothes every day. Or all the cars in the world would be red. Terrible, isn't it?

Christine aka kuekeli
Christine aka kuekeli

When I heard about the heart project "We are beautiful", which was brought to life by Pinup Model and 1.82m beauty Betty Raven, I was immediately on fire. She started a call for a photo project in which people with "blemishes" should apply. At first I thought my scars from many hip operations were not flawed enough to apply. After all, they were generously covered by black ink anyway. And many people carry scars. And there it fell from my eyes like scales: Many people carry scars. I am like many people. And many people feel uncomfortable because of these scars. I somehow do too, otherwise I would not have covered most of it with tattoos. Holy smoke, that must be changed! And, whoosh, I applied and was accepted.

So there I was on this Sunday in December, only in plain underwear and with a beautiful makeup by Karin Bachlmayr and a hairstyle that only my Bixi can do and I almost wet myself. These women who were standing in front of the camera with me that day, impressed me so much and I was honestly afraid not to do them justice.

There we had for example Anna aka. Betty Raven. One of the most beautiful women I know. I would never have thought that such a beautiful woman had suffered so much in former times because of her figure and her size. Christine, who has had such a tragic past with drug addiction, violence, abuse and prostitution. She's clean since 2009. Such a strong woman to admire! Corinne, who seems to be flawless on the outside. This woman's charisma is so amazing. It's hard to believe that she lives with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. And then Sonja. I really don't have the words for this woman. She touched me deeply and impressed me with her self-perception and her self-love.

First I did mini interviews this Sunday and tried to capture the essence and history of these women on paper, just as Björn Gotzmann, this incredibly talented photographer, immortalized our appearance on pictures. But after a while I put my writing pad aside. These stories told that day were so profound, personal and touching that I really couldn't do them justice. They are life stories that each of us writes and for which I lack the words to tell them.

But what I can tell you is how my life has changed with this shooting. Sounds a bit melodramatic, but it's really true. It was so liberating to sit half-naked in this room full of half-naked women, not to be reduced to my appearance. I didn't even pull in my belly all day! We were just people with stories that we told each other as if we had been friends for a long time. Not only did we drop our physical shells, but we also told about our lives with a honesty that really made us all friends from strangers. We admired and motivated and supported each other. What came out of it were these incredible pictures, which show so much beauty and naturalness, that every time I look at them my heart opens! A pride has developed for all these women, which shouldn't be possible after just one meeting. And yet he is there. I am so proud of us who defy categorization and stigmatization and are simply ourselves. Because every person is simply beautiful in his uniqueness!

f.l.t.r.: Sonja, Corinne, me, Christine, Anna
f.l.t.r.: Sonja, Corinne, me, Christine, Anna

Maybe we should all just walk around a little more often half-naked, because there's something honest about it. No spandex, no Photoshop, no clothes that hide the problem zones. I showed myself as I am and since then my Bodyshaper stayed at home at every further shooting. After all, every one of my followers already knows what's underneath. No more reason to squeeze me into this ugly, uncomfortable shapewear. Because I am not perfect. And I don't even want to be it anymore. Hence my New Year's resolution 2019: I no longer weigh myself. No number may dictate to me whether I am beautiful or not.  Because I can see that for myself. In my mirror. And my heart.

Love yourselves!

 

Scarlet Rose


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