Fighting the disease of perfectionism means looking at ourselves beyond what we look like. It means accepting ourselves as good enough without putting requirements or caveats on our okayness.
An unreachable standard
I had the thrilling experience of being on the radio for the first time this morning. I called into the popular morning show, Katie and Ed on Amp Radio Calgary. Katie and Ed were discussing how a parent would feel about their child’s school photo getting retouched.
Arguments for retouching the photos included that it might help the child feel better about themselves or avoid having to retake the picture if it didn’t turn out.
I called in to give my opinion and was a bit shocked, and nervous when I found myself live on the radio!
The problem I said, is we are sending the message that our children are only okay if they are perfect. Even small children are no longer ‘allowed’ to just be themselves – with scabs and scrapes and markers of childhood. Instead, they need to be filtered and altered to present flawless skin. They are invited to obtain a standard of beauty society (and frankly corporate interest groups) have deemed necessary to be worthwhile.
I watch Tik Tok occasionally – which never results in me feeling good about myself. I am struck at how young the children on Tik Tok are who are sexualizing themselves. There is a campaign called #whatieatinaday. This is an invitation to our small children to obsess about their weight and their calorie intake. This is the beginning of eating disorders.
Seeking perfectionism – in ourselves and now our children are so destructive. It invites bad feelings, and crazy behaviour to make ourselves fit society’s standards of beauty.
It implies that our only value is in how we look. And this is a sickness.
Radical Self Acceptance: An Act of Rebellion
I believe it is time to develop radical self-acceptance. This means we love ourselves, approve of ourselves regardless of how we look. This means looking in the mirror, without make-up and saying, “gosh, aren’t I beautiful”. This is vastly different than the vapid self-promotion we see on Tik Tok. This is a private experience, where you can truly look yourself in the eyes and love what you see. Not to impress, or be better than others, but to accept yourself radically as having value beyond how you look. See the beauty in your imperfections and the incredible strength of who you are.
The more we can do this ourselves, the more we can teach our kids that they are okay as they are. Okayness is a sense of having value, worth and dignity regardless of how you look or what you do.
Let’s teach our kids how to have a sense of self that is separate from society’s expectations for them. Let’s teach them that it matters more what they do with their life and how kind they are than how good they look.
Self-acceptance is simply the biggest act of rebellion there is.