I was reading an article on a random website, as I so often do in search of internet awesomeness, and I came across a link to an article claiming to reveal what Leonardo DiCaprio was looking for in a woman.
I couldn’t resist. I clicked.
I vaguely remembered that he was only a few years older than me, so I was curious. I’m going through a divorce, after all, which sometimes leaves me with a strange voyeuristic curiosity about the love lives of others.
Leo told CBS This Morning that he was looking for a woman who had “humility, a sense of humor and not a lot of drama.” The article also mentioned his reputation for only dating supermodels.
My incredulity showed itself with a sound somewhat similar to: Pfffttt!
Supermodels with humility? And a sense of humor? And not a lot of drama???
You’re lookin’ in the wrong crowd, buddy…
But then I stopped laughing, as suddenly as I’d started. Wait… was I just … judging? That one thing that other people do that I hate more than anything else?
I’ve become so accustomed to looking to the internet for humor, that I sometimes forget that I’m reading about real people. And I spend so much time reading about others putting people in boxes that I sometimes forget to stop myself from categorizing.
Why can’t models be humble and funny and drama-free? Because they’re not portrayed that way in stereotypical roles on TV and in movies? Because that’s not how their faces read on the runways or in magazine ads?
But that’s just a part they play.
Somewhere beneath the face they show the public is a real person. A real woman. And that’s been a hard concept for me to grasp and to come to peaceful terms with. A concept I know many still struggle with.
And that’s totally understandable.
I grew up surrounded by pictures of models in magazines that established my guidelines for what beauty was supposed to be. I remember the rage I felt when I was older and first understood what Photoshop could actually do. How angry I was when I realized that all those movies I’d watched growing up utilized things like filters: Doris Day had freckles? Brad Pitt had acne? I had no idea. I thought everyone in Hollywood really had perfect, smooth, and flawless skin.
I came of age long before HD magnified the imperfections of the world. The imperfections I’d been sure had only existed on people like me, people who weren’t beautiful and who never would be. Those movies and magazines were the reason that I was so sure, even when I was young and 116 pounds, that I my ugly, fat, pimpled, and hairy self could never be accepted or admired or loved.
But, for probably the first time in my life, I’m happy. I know I’m beautiful. When did this massively oppressive negative self-image dissipate? I’m not sure exactly. It’s been a long road. But somewhere after pushing out two kids and escaping from an abusive marriage, I’ve finally found myself. And not just peace, but a true and deep joy. Something my younger self never imagined.
Not that my life is some sparkly, giddy rendition of a Disney musical: I have some truly terrible days… but underneath it all I have this glowing core of hope and happiness. Yes, it’s been a very, very long road, but I’ve finally found a version of myself that actually feels right. Free. Happy.
And I wish I could stand on a street corner and pass out little burning globes of happiness to passersby. But I don’t think they sell those things at the local drugstore. Unfortunately, I think we all have to find happiness on our own. And I wish it wasn’t so hard.
I wish that things like photos of skinny supermodels in magazines weren’t the more readily available comparisons for ourselves. Because real women have curves. AND, real women do not have curves. Real men are rugged and muscular, AND real men are skinny and metrosexual. Skinny or fat, male or female (or a little bit of both) – we’re ALL beautiful. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and special imperfections that make our uniqueness beautiful.
And we don’t need to make fun of other people to feel better. But we DO need to practice empathy more often.
I wish I could shout this shit from the rooftops, because we all need the reminder occasionally. But I don’t have a suitable rooftop for the job, so my blog will have to do.
So here goes:
You are beautiful. You are passionate and exciting and talented. You are a miracle. You are a Child of God. You are loved. You are cherished. You are powerful and gentle and smart and kind. You are strong. A survivor. A fighter. A lover and a protector. You make this earth more beautiful with your existence. You are precious. You are sweet. You are deep and full and desirable. You are worthy. You are worth fighting for. You are worth waiting for. You are strong enough to be on your own and powerful enough to give yourself to another. You are independent and vulnerable and soft and radiant. You are allowed to be happy. You are beautiful and you are allowed to show it.
Know that: you are beautiful.
Understand that: you are beautiful.
NEVER be doubtful of the fact that, above everything else:
You are beautiful.
And you may not feel like all of those things some days. On your worst days you may not feel like any of them. But never forget that you are, in fact, beautiful. And know this: I think you are beautiful. And I passionately hope and pray that you will find your beauty and happiness for yourself.
And I truly hope Leo finds what he seeks, too.