Be different, be happy

Alexia Harris

I am not a blonde.

I don’t wear hair extensions. My eyes are not green. I do not have perfect skin. I don’t have breast implants, nor do I wish to have them. I have stretch marks, and my butt is not the largest. I don’t wear a 36C bra and I can’t fit in size 3 jeans, but I am still beautiful.

Oil of Olay says, “Love the skin you’re in.” I have learned to love every inch of my brown body, even though this has not always been the case.

During my pregnancy, I gained a whopping 65 pounds. So after I gave birth, I was in a rush to return to my pre-pregnancy weight. I lost the pounds in three months, but I almost killed myself in the process.

I ran until I vomited the Tic Tac I had for lunch — everyday. I was scared at how people would look at me. I didn’t want them to see me fat and miserable. I had to be thin.

But in time, I grew tired of living up to the expectations of other people. I was not born Halle Berry, and I never could be her, no matter how hard I tried. I was Alexia, and if people couldn’t accept how I looked, they couldn’t accept me.

I was at the hair salon last week and a woman asked for “the Kelis.” That bothered me.

People need to stop living up to stars and be their own person.

Women in particular are known for trying to achieve the ultimate look. Women and their beauty sell everything from alcohol to vehicles.

Research Web site reported that “over three-quarters of the covers of women’s magazines include at least one message about how to change a woman’s bodily appearance — by diet, exercise or cosmetic surgery.”

Television and movies reinforce the importance of a thin body as a measure of the value of a woman.

Image has become an invasive element in American culture.

The bombardment of messages about being thin, dieting and beauty tells the average woman that she is always in need of adjustment, and that her body is a thing to be improved.

Women live up to these stereotypes and judge themselves by industry standards. When a woman is not happy with her body image, it affects the way she thinks and feels about herself.

A poor body image can lead to low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

According to Harvard professor Alice Domar, “In order for a woman to consider herself happy, she has to be in a good relationship, be happy with her kids, her friends have to like her, her job has to be going well, her house has to look really good — and she has to be thin.”

In reality, half of all marriages end in divorce, the average woman isn’t content with her job, she doesn’t live in a mansion and her best friend is probably sleeping with her husband. Oh yeah, she isn’t thin either.

Learn to love what you see in the mirror.

In an interview, actress Jamie Lee Curtis commented on copying an unattainable image.

“Perfection is being happy with who you are,” she said. “Look at me, I’m happy.”

Jamie, I’m happy too.

Alexia Harris is a junior public relations major and columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].