celeste barber, an australian comedienne, has made a name for herself on social media by recreating some of the fashion and celebrity images she encounters online. she poses in a variety of outfits that mirror those she sees in order to mock the advertising and fashion layouts that that many of us both hate and simultaneously idealize; pictures of scantily clad women boxing in their bathing suits, doing yoga stretches in their underwear, and drinking milk from the carton naked save for their stilettos. those kinds of pictorials. hers are real-life re-imaginings and they are fantastic.
i want to be ms. barber when i grow up.
it’s not her appearance in the mashups, which are hilarious, that i want to emulate. she’s not unattractive but her body is not high-fashion-editorial ready. she is not a model. she’s human and it’s totally apparent from her pictures that her lack of physical perfection isn’t impeding her in any way. her body is working for her. she is in it, doing something she enjoys. she is more than her body, and she knows it, which is as it should be.
it’s not her body i want but her spirit. i want her self-acceptance and her bravery. i want her willingness to put herself out into the world, knowing that some people are going to hate her and criticize her for doing it, and doing it anyhow.
i want her belief that her body is just one thing about her, and it’s not even the most important or interesting thing.
it gets tiring, missing out on life because i’ve decided that everything has to be on hold because my thighs feel too fat. i’m tired of wasting so much time on something so ultimately unimportant. i want to focus on things that are meaningful. i want to focus on the things that are really in my control.
i obsess over my appearance and a large part of that comes from a desire to control how others see me. some part of me believes the world expect perfection from me and also that if i’m perfect, i’ll be safe. not much of logic in there.
i want to not care about what other people think.
lives are lost with eating disorders. days and years disappear and if you’re lucky, you’re left empty and grief-stricken, struggling to crawl back up from the hole you ended up in. if you’re unlucky, you’re left dead. eating disorders take everything and though they promise shiny things in the beginning, like happiness, and acceptance, and love, they deliver nothing but misery. eating disorders are the ultimate bait and switch.
i still like to peruse the occasional fashion and beauty magazine but they are no longer my only source of inspiration. i want more from my role models than gazelle-like thighs and pore-less skin. no more ripping out pages of emaciated models from magazines to create damaging and disheartening scrapbooks for me. i’m looking for heroes with different qualities. i’m starting to look for them with better eyes.
now that i’m looking, i see people being not perfect everywhere, all the time. i wonder how i missed them for so many years? people are walking around feeling good about who they are and that’s amazing to me. their imperfections don’t destroy them and their bodies don’t define them. that’s sounds a lot like freedom.
i want to be more than just my body. i want to be able to think about things that aren’t food, diet, and exercise. i’m working on becoming a whole person. eating disorders steal complexity; you become exceedingly one-dimensional. everything circles back around to how you look. it’s all about your appearance. once you become aware of that fact, the navel-obsessing nature of the disorder becomes difficult to live with. my desire to move beyond being selfish and self-centered is strong.
so, when i encounter women like ms. barber, i take them on as inspiration. not for what they are doing, simply because they are. they have given themselves permission to be, without justification. they don’t feel the need to apologize for their existence, lack of perfection notwithstanding.
who doesn’t want to be like that when they grow up?
(february 28, 2018)