Feeling wrong is a pretty odd feeling. Sometimes that feeling is just there for no reason, other times it’s a more specific feeling, related to that little roll of fat around your waist, or to your legs looking crooked, or to your smile being imperfect. It’s about the one detail making us feel small and week, that detail that inevitably becomes the favorite target of those people who never miss a chance to accuse others, to point out how different we are from the ideals of beauty that society imposes on us. It happens more often than we think – it may not happen to you, but it might be happening to a classmate, to a friend, to your cousin or to your sister, or to that girl you always see on the bus, always traveling alone. It also may have happened to people who are now envied by all, individuals whom we admire for their beauty and for their strong character: those people we would never imagine in the process of looking in a mirror, wishing that they could look different. People like Gigi Hadid, basically.
It might seem like a paradox that a brand like Reebok chose a model like her to launch its most important project of the last few years: the #PerfectNever Revolution, a campaign that wishes to encourage women not to try to attain the idea of perfection that society teaches them, but rather to try to be the best version of their very own self, accepting their own imperfections, learning to make them something valuable, rather than a shortcoming, because it is our flaws that make us all unique. That’s the whole point, though: we should never judge anyone based on the way they look, and most importantly, we should never let other people’s opinion influence the way we think of ourselves, or let that condition us in any way, making us believe that we are not enough, or that we are wrong.
It’s an idea we all have on our minds, but also an idea that we often forget. Yes, because in a world where everything is shown off in its every little detail, in a world in which photography is the main means of communication, the obsession with perfection becomes the way to judge everything, and this just touches everything and everyone. I, for a start, forgot about this a ton of times, for instance: whenever people made fun of me in elementary school because I wore eyeglasses – I never wore anything but contacts after that, of course! – whenever I knew I was at the bottom of the list of the coolest girls in school, whenever I was in college and my ex told me that I smiled too often and ate way too much for a girl. I still forget about it today, anytime I want to wear a certain outfit, change my mind because I don’t want to attract negative attention, and end up wearing jeans. I forget about it whenever I want to post a photo, and I don’t do it because I don’t look as good as I thought. Other times, I remember about it: whenever I finish my pilates class in the morning and I feel happy, because even if it’s so much effort to get up early in the morning, I know I made a little step towards feeling better about myself; I remember whenever someone I don’t know tells me they love the sound of my laughter; when I can share professional knowledge with someone who just started out in the same job, and I can see a spark of wonder and interest in their eyes. It happened to me last week too, when Foot Locker and Reebok flew me to New York City for the launch of Perfect Never: I attended a fitness class with Gigi Hadid and her personal trainer – it was so hard, but I managed the entire workout without ever stopping, I felt so empowered! And then I chatted about self acceptance with Gigi, and with other women who have been sending positive messages to other ladies for years: Ruby Rose, Lena Dunham, Zoe Kravitz and Alexandra Raisman.
I was proud of myself, first and foremost because I was there with this bunch of people, and what landed me there were my skills and what I built thanks to them over the last few years: I earned all this. And then I felt so understood, unexpectedly, by people I never would have thought could understand that feeling of never being enough, a feeling that is always with me in one form or another, a feeling that has always been with me and that I struggle against every day, just like all these people do. Think of Ruby Rose, who told us about the times she got bullied at school, and hid in the library to avoid being beaten by her friends: the library was where she discovered that there were women, in novels, who had felt rejected, just like her. Olympian and champion Alexandra Raisman was always made to feel like she wasn’t feminine enough because of her muscles and her athlete’s body, until she realized that that body is also a symbol for her great success, and until she learned that femininity is within you, that it doesn’t reside in thin arms and lithe legs. Or Gigi Hadid, who has to constantly deal with people gossiping about her body since she became a model, with people saying anything ranging from her body being too curvy for the catwalk, to her having lost too much weight later on. I was watching them sitting together, with me and other women, and I had the certainty that they too, on certain mornings, wake up feeling like a mess, feeling like they are wrong, even, at least for a moment. Surely, they are not perfect, simply because they are also people. They, like me, like us all, will never be perfect, definitely not in their own eyes, at least. What we can be, though, is the best version of ourselves — we can at least try. So, on those mornings on which everything seems to go wrong, all we can do is smile at the face in the mirror and remind ourselves we are not the only ones who feel imperfect… And that that is just fine, after all.
P.S. You know the best thing about Gigi? No, not her doe eyes and not her bombshell physique. What makes you fall for her, when you have the privilege to spend time with her and chat with her a bit, is her voice. Gigi’s voice, when you talk to her live, sounds slightly broken and filled with emotion, like our voice is when we say something that touches us and cracks our shell of self-assuredness, taking our breath away. Her voice is what makes her human, and therefore, utterly beautiful.
from The Blonde Salad