Sunday, 25 August 2013

Natural vs Unnatural

I'm going to be honest with you, about an hour ago, wearing no makeup and a cardigan that only my mother would approve of (bad news) I was racking my brains for a blog post idea. The result was these pictures, some amature selfies which I hoped to translate into some sort of mundane 'face of the day' post which I imagine might have left everyone with just a tinge of disappointment. Then it occurred to me, like a little lightbulb going off with a ping under my blue hair, that I could spoon feed something a little more topical to my blog.
As a person, I'm opinionated, but I'm reluctant to talk about things unless I have a really good understanding of them. And one thing that I'm really interested in is how the media deals with body image. Bear with me, and hopefully this won't turn into a menial GCSE Media studies essay, although I'm not sure the inclusion of selfies would up my marks by much.
The way we look is something that pretty much affects everyone, some more than others. Like most people, as a child I wasn't hugely happy with how I looked. I hated the fact that I had inherited my dad's extremely fine mousey brown hair, as opposed to the thick, black hair that my mother is lucky enough to have. It wasn't necessarily because I thought my brown hair was ugly, I just thought it was boring. And it really was, for me it was, but for someone else, it might be just right for them. Because of this, I started dying my hair as a teenager, starting off with a darker brown, veering through to black, tinted purple, and ending up, age 20, applying my first bleach kit. My mother couldn't understand why I was doing it, saying 'but you looked so lovely with your natural hair, why would you want to change yourself?' Well, I'm telling you, and I'm telling her (Hi mum) that I'm much more comfortable with my aesthetic identity now than I was then, as my unnatural self has become in some ways, a part of my identity that I enjoy indulging.

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Of course, it is natural for parents to be like that, as after all, they made you, and often they just see you as a successful little version of themselves. But dying my hair became something I enjoyed, as I tend to get bored of my appearance very easily (I'm already prepping for my next dye job). Alongside this, I've dabbled with piercings, something my parents really didn't approve of. The fact is, I really love the way that we can change how we look so much, and look as colourful or as different as we like, but I don't see this as indicative of some deep seated insecurity, as that manifests itself in other ways. I see this as having endless possibilities, and (this is going to sound hideously pretentious) being able to treat my body as a piece of art, and do what I like with it.

Much as I love watching shows like Snog Marry Avoid, it is very much a product of the size zero backlash, demanding that 'real' women get the attention they deserve as opposed to stick thin media darlings who have been manipulated by photoshop into some sort of ideal. Of course, it is important to encourage people that they should be happy in their own skin, but the idea of 'real' women, or indeed men, is a tricky one. On Snog Marry Avoid, it is often assumed that those with makeup, tan, hair dye and other cosmetic additions are not confident in themselves, and they don't believe they are 'natural beauties.' I think this is a message that needs some desperate refining. The truth is, some people want to change how they look because there are so many different options out there, not simply because they believe themselves to be ugly.

For me personally, I am comfortable with the way I look as long as it conveys some elements of my personality and what I am interested in. I feel I am able to do this with hair dye, piercings and tattoos (not quite yet with the latter), and I believe many other people are the same. People can choose to do what they like with their bodies, and they may choose to do it for different reasons other than feeling insecure. They may choose to do it, simply, because they believe it is a reflection of who they are, and who is anyone else to say any different?

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I'd like to say to people who say to others, in good faith, 'why would you want to hide yourself under all that (insert body/hair modification here)?' that it's important to remember that just because someone looks unnatural, that they shouldn't be stigmatised. It's an addition to how you look, NOT a way to cover it up. They're just having fun with how they look and presenting themselves in the way that they see the most fit, and I think that's it wonderful that we live in a society where we are privileged enough to do that!

My blue hair, piercings and tattoo lust may just be belated teenage rebellion, but either way, I'm going to enjoy indulging the unnatural side of me as part of the constructing of my own identity. And I'd like to say to other people that you can change how you look all you want, veer as far away from the natural as you see fit, and if you like yourself, then that's really all anybody needs to know.

What do you think about unnatural beauty vs natural beauty? Have you ever been judged because the way you look doesn't necessarily conform to what is deemed natural? I'm genuinely interested to hear your opinions, so please comment down below, tweet me, or email me with what you think.

Thanks for reading! Belphoebe x
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36 comments :

  1. Ooh, love this post :-)

    Self-expression is a personal thing and 'natural' beauty is whatever feels right to you.

    Dyed hair, piercings etc are another way of expressing individuality. Kind of like Karou in Daughter of Smoke and Bone (awesome novel by Laini Taylor).

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    1. Thank you guys :)

      So true, beauty is what you feel comfortable with, not what other people feel comfortable with!

      I haven't heard of Daughter of Smoke and Bone but I'll be sure to check it out! xx

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  2. Great post lady! I've had ultra-bleached blonde hair for years and years and years - it's a huge part of my identity. Last year I dabbled with a more toned down blonde/brown colouring (...something a little closer to my natural colour), and I just didn't feel like me at all. Safe to say, I was straight back to platinum within a few days :).

    Keri x

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    1. Hi Keri! Thanks so much :) I know what you mean, sometimes it's hard to explain to someone that toned down doesn't feel right for everyone! I think it's great that you're rocking platinum hair, why the hell not? x

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  4. The only thing I'm bothered about is too much make up, because I think that you get lost by it and kind of become someone else. But this is just my opinion and it does not mean that I judge people because of that. You have to do what you think is right for you. So people, do whatever YOU want and don't be mean to eachother! :)

    http://msnotweirdatall.blogspot.com

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    1. Hey, thanks for your comment! I can understand that some people do use makeup to hide themselves, I certainly used makeup for years to hide my acne. But if someone does it for artistic purposes, then I think that's wonderful! It's like this whole idea that 'girls look pretty without makeup on' which obviously is great, but I don't think makeup should be demonised at the same time. I love wearing it! But I understand you're not judging, it's great to hear other people's opinions! x

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  5. i'm in love with this post! :)
    you have such confidence and i personally love your hair!
    -jules
    www.myladybakes.com

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  6. loved this post, I think I agree with you almost completely. I'm doing a post about body-image soon, thanks for the fresh thoughts and inspo :)

    http://thepersephonecomplex.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Hey Holly, thank you, it means a lot that you like this post because I love your blog! Would love to see more about body image, can't wait to read it! xx

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  7. I've already told you how much I love this post. <3 I think it's great to merge 'fake' or 'unnatural' elements of your appearance with your sense of identity an it's unhealthy to view these things as hiding them. I saw a good post on tumblr the other days about this - your body is simply the vessel that our conciousness travels around in. Some people like to decorate their bodies like you would decorate a house, whilst others like to keep it 'natural'. But ultimately it's what is inside that matters. (: (And your insides are gorgeous - intended in the least serial killer way possible)

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    1. Thankyouuuu flatmate! Exactly, I'd like to think that my outward self reflects my inside interests, I mean it's a hobby! (Also, thank you, I accept serial killer compliments as much as anything else). :) xx

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  8. I love this post! I love watching Snog Marry Avoid but every time I sit down to watch it I just find myself ranting away about how not all the guys and girls on it are insecure about their 'natural' look. It really frustrates me when people assume a person has bright bold hair or body modifications simply because of their suppressed insecurities. Often I think this presumption isn't made by those who have a love of the natural (as Snog Marry Avoid portrays), but simply by those who are too narrow minded to consider a more daring look. If you have a bright personality, why can't it be extended to your style?

    As 'Tickle and Pink' said above 'natural beauty is whatever feels right to you'. I don't think there should be a generalised definition of natural. What's natural and unnatural is really a question of opinion not rules of society, so I personally give a big thumbs up to anyone who expresses them-self with their look - whether it be bright hair and piercings or a more simple look, people express their personality in their own way :)

    Good topic to discuss!

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    1. Hey Issy, thanks for commenting, and I'm glad I'm not alone with this Snog Marry Avoid thing! I often wonder whether with some people whether it's just a sign of changing times, now most people have one or two tattoos, but the generation below us don't necessarily engage in the same culture.

      And I think that's an amazing conclusion, I honestly couldn't have said it better myself. Thanks for such an amazing comment! xx

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    2. I would agree that it's definitely a sign of changing times. I'll look at the children in school now and I'm overwhelmed with how glamorous some of the girls - and even the guys - look. Even the girls considered the hottest in my year at secondary school 4 years ago wore a lot less make up, weren't immaculately turned out and some days, just some, their hair wasn't perfectly groomed. It's impressive what some people manage to accomplish these days with their style.

      But I think it's a sign of our changing times because of - unfortunately - how much people value looks these days.

      Happy to join in!
      xx

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  9. Wowweee, ok so I'm about to voice some views here! I remember when I was a kid my mum was so supportive of the view that my body was mine to change and I couldn't be more grateful for that. She let my cut all my hair off when I was 9 and consistently let me try new things. She's awesome.

    When I was a little older I bought Dita Von teese's book. In it she explains that her sisters are all classically beautiful, with blonde hair and turned up noses and she was never that. She was always a 'created beauty'. I just fell in love with that phrase! I also realised that most of the women whose looks I really admire (and not in that natural response of "oh she's really beautiful" but the stop and think sort of beauty) are created beauties. I think theres something in the idea that if you have to decided what you're trying to do with your looks then some real thought and personality has to go into it. I love that.

    I also realised pretty early on I was a created beauty and it gave me quite a lot of confidence. I think its so reassuring to know that your body is such a changeable thing that it doesn't really matter. I was a ballerina for many years; a really really good one. Staying underweight seemed to be tied up with identity in a sense; if I didn't look this way I wasn't a balletrina. It really showed me how damanging body image can be. I then became very ill, had to quit and over a year put on quite a lot of weight. Living in the fallout of all that has been so liberating. Sure I've had to adapt a whole lot; I look entirely different now and suit entirely different things but it's been wonderful on two counts. Firstly I've got to be natural and work with my natural shape and avoid horrid make up which I HATED having to wear every day. On the other hand I've loved creating a new look for myself; for choosing to be curvy and cute and bubbly rather than spiky and jutty and 'cutting edge'. Basically over the years I have entirely learnt that the right way round is to sort out how you feel inside and then mold the outside to that instead of the other way round. And I'm loving it!

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    1. Hey Ally, thank you so much for this comment! I have to say it made me sad to hear about your insecurities when you were younger, but thank you so much for sharing them and I'm glad that you've turned into such a lovely and beautiful person inside and out!

      I think it's great that your mother supports how you want to look, that can be a rare thing! And I love that idea of 'created beauty' that's really made an impression on me! I think being a created beauty is just as wonderful as say, having particularly lovely natural features. I certainly feel that many of the stylistic changes I've made to myself pertain to becoming 'created' in some way, which I love in a sort of artistic, creative way.

      But anyway I really appreciated this wonderful comment, and it's wonderful to hear from someone who's truly learnt themselves and been able to make something fantastic out of it! xx

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  10. This is such a gorgeous post and so important. I always had fairly decent brown hair growing up but when I finally decided to dye it a year or so ago, I was amazed at how much more myself I felt after I dyed it. I dyed it dark dark dark brown with some red tint in it and as soon as I saw the color, I felt my spirit come alive. I felt so myself and so confident. It's just what you said above: I had a fine hair color, I was a nice looking human but dying my hair was the right choice for me. Anything that you do to make you feel more whole I think is natural and beautiful. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful :)

    Em
    Tightrope to the Sun

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    1. Thanks for the lovely comment Emma and sorry about the delay in replying to it! I think it's great that you found that one important aspect of yourself that made you come alive, and who cares if it's just your hair? It's surprising how a little change in the right place can make a difference to your confidence! And you're right, everyone does deserve to feel beautiful, but confidence really can be a hard thing to develop! xx

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  11. Firstly, I adore your blue hair especially paired with the lipstick shade in these photos! ^_^

    You are awesome at articulating the significance of unnatural qualities for yourself and various other individuals. I think it is quite nice to read that self-expression isn't "indicative of some deep seated insecurity". Earlier this summer, I nearly found myself believing my mother when she indirectly proclaimed my teal hair to be embarrassing. Unnatural is not synonymous with embarrassing, obnoxious, etc despite the thought process of older individuals! Walking about while displaying personal influences as well as creativity to the world is a beautiful sight.

    I know we've had some random interactions over the Internet before and I am glad I have stumbled across this lovely post/blog!

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    1. Hey Caitlin, thanks so much for your comment and apologies for a very late response. I'm really flattered by what you've said, and I symphathise with your difficulties with your mother in dying your hair, sometimes they just don't get it! And totally, I absolutely LOVE seeing people with a clear sense of personal style who you can clearly see are just being them and showing the world what they're interested in through how they look.

      I'm glad to have come across your wonderful tumblr too! You have AMAZING style! xx

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  12. AMEN! giiiiiirrrrrrlll i know too well what you mean with this post. i've been dyeing my hair crazy colors since i was 12 (i'm now 25) so i've used to the unwanted comments from strangers and even from my parents (who by the way have finally realized that it's never going to stop). I started first with just color streaks, sometimes just my fringe, other times the tips of my hair, or on other occasions the underside of my hair, etc. it wasn't until i graduated university that i felt i could do all of my hair (also because my parents threatened to disown me lololol if i did all of my hair, really i dont know why just part of it was any different to them). i was 23 and just went for it, plus i graduated from university which is all my parents wanted from me so i figured why not? they really had nothing else they could say to me! haha so i dyed all of my hair purple and people started getting crazy on me everywhere i went, it was pretty surreal. i'm an introvert mostly so i really dislike unwarranted attention but i have learned that with the hair it's just part of the territory. it wasnt until after half a year of having it purple that i got over it and went the color ive always wanted: teal. i don't even know how to truly explain it without sounding crazy, but like, i have never felt more like myself than when i dyed my hair teal. it was like something within me just went OH THIS IS ME, COOL. isnt that crazy!? hehe. now i've let it grow out because i've just been too lazy to redo it, but one day soon when there's more brown parts than teal(green more like it since its washed out haha) i will redo it.

    sorry for the crazy long comment!!


    --Leeds
    at this volume

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    1. I'm glad you're out rocking the crazy awesome hair and that you're happy with your body! I couldn't agree more; people really are works of art!

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    2. This is such a lovely lovely comment! Although a rather extreme reaction from your parents! I think it's fantastic that you found a part of yourself when you went teal, sometimes it's good to be a bit rebellious and do what you feel is the right thing to do!

      And I understand what you mean about the attention you get. I am equally pretty introverted and sometimes I find it a bit weird getting all these looks, but it honestly doesn't bother me if people think my hair looks stupid, because maybe it does, but you're only young once!

      Thank you so much! xx

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  13. This is such a great post I really agree with you on your views on snog marry avoid too!
    Meg xx

    peachpips.blogspot.com

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  14. omg you totally rock this blue hair! love the bright blue a lot it's awesome! <3

    check out my latest post featuring my trip to Melbourne! :)
    A
    xx
    http://epiquemoi.blogspot.com

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  15. I don't understand people that don't pay any attention to how they look. Who are they?

    /Avy

    http://mymotherfuckedmickjagger.blogspot.com

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  16. first off, i love your blue hair!

    second, i really enjoyed reading your thoughts on body image in this post. it's such a tough subject to write about, you know?! but, i love that you opened up here!

    lindsey louise

    hellomrrabbitblog.com

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  17. Wow I love your hair color! and you're blog is really inspiring :) keep posting more! x

    Blog: The Sassy Theory

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  18. I totally agree about Snog Marry Avoid, it's like they miss the point of why some people are dressing up extremely. And when they restyle those people, they make them boring. I don't know if you've seen that scene in the Mindy Project, where Mindy is going to wear something a little crazy and her guy friend says that it's not a good idea, and she's like "do you just want me to wear a completely anonymous little black dress?" Often the way people dress is to say something, but not necessarily to make themselves "more attractive." So, these alterations don't stem from insecurity. I'm all for unnatural beauty, and I LOVE your blue hair! xx

    www.jessthetics.wordpress.com

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    1. Thanks for the lovely comment! I haven't seen the Mindy Project bar the first episode but I can imagine this scene! I agree, it's always good to see someone dressing to make a statement, but then again if people don't want to do that then it's equally fine!

      Unnatural beauty is the way forward!

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  19. Your hair is amazing. I've got purple/lilac at the moment and literally it doesn't want to stay. Gone within less than a week. I've just seen your comment about cold water...It's going to be a challenge but I'm going to try it! you look gorgeous, and your eyes are so unusually wonderful! xo

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  20. Oh man. I really love this blue hair! it's so rare to be able to pull off blue but it works so well with your skin tone! it really REALLY makes your face pop. Love the pink lippy with it ;)

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    ReplyDelete

Thank you so so much for your comment! It makes me smile everytime I see a new one pop up. If you leave me a link to your blog I will aim to get back to you within 2 days because I love looking at all your blogs too!
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