As we get into fashion show season, the reminder that St Andrews is the land of the beautiful people is thrust into our faces on a daily basis. And to think, we pay extortionate amounts to be reminded of this. When I go to FS this weekend (for £70, mind), I’ll no doubt be watching girls with washboard stomachs and super toned everything, while I stare down at myself and realise I have neither of these things in abundance. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s “all about the clothes” – but these clothes are, in turn, all about the body.
I really admire the work of organisations like Label, which try to promote body positivity. That said, The Bubble makes it hard to avoid being constantly bombarded by the tall, slim, beautiful and stylish. Even at Aldi, there are shoppers who could have stepped out of a magazine shoot. If I dressed up like that and went to the Aldi close to my home, I’d probably be mugged on my way out.
And then there’s the library…
The library is a veritable catwalk, perhaps best demonstrated by how most Concrete Catwalk photos appear to be taken close to it. I like to think I make an effort with my appearance: I nearly always wear make-up, I resist leaving my house every day in sports leggings and a hoody unless I’m going to the gym, and the clothes I do own at least make it on the spectrum of “in vogue.” And yet, when I take my seat in the library and look around, I can only think that I might as well have worn a bin bag.
Even in revision, why can you all not turn to your baggiest jumpers and your slobbiest t-shirts? Why do you still wear faux fur coats, chiffon blouses and short leather skirts? And heels?! I have not yet learned how to fully concentrate while wearing clothes that contort my body, wrapped in so many bits of fabric that I can’t move for inhaling a ruffle, bow or synthetic animal pelt. Does this make me an inadequate female? Because it sure feels like it.
Am I wrong for feeling inadequate and inferior? I don’t hate myself. I’m actually fairly proud of who I am. These feelings of inferiority can actually help to push us to better ourselves. Some people might think it vain and superficial, but if the world is going to judge me for how I look (like we all judge each other on the various “catwalks” of St Andrews) then why shouldn’t I want to do something about it? Pushing myself to want those washboard abs leads me to pick up an apple instead of a chocolate bar, or a salad instead of a burger.
Have your own style, be happy with the way your body is, be healthy, but don’t be afraid if you get that “inferiority” feeling. Don’t use it as a weakness to bury yourself with; use it as a strength, a motivator to make simple changes that will make you feel confident with yourself. We’re too afraid of making a change, of being judged as much for that as for being “who we are.” I think it’s about time we were allowed to make and change that definition of “who we are” for ourselves and not for anyone else.