'Comparison is the thief of joy'
When I was a teenager I was all tangled up, drenched in self doubt, addled by insecurity. I compared myself to others constantly - posters of bikini clad models on my boyfriend’s walls, other girls at school, actresses on the covers of magazines, page three girls with perfect breasts taunting me with how much less desirable mine must be as they were different from theirs. And that was before the advent of social media, before the Kardashians and before Love Island. I honestly don’t know how I would have coped with endless instagram feeds of toned perfect-skinned nymphs showcasing how flawless and sexy it’s “possible" to be.
I wish someone had taken me on a Ebenezer Scrooge voyage of discovery showing me my countless blessings and how much I have to celebrate. I wish someone had whispered sweet everythings into my ears as I slept, telling me that who you are, your creative magic, your kindness, heart, courage, playfulness, determination, humour, gentleness, assertiveness, resilience and sense of mischief are the qualities that make life enchanting and the attributes that will lead you into the arms of the greatest friendships and the most enriching romances.
And that these qualities have the capacity to grow exponentially regardless of your age, income or the type of body you were born into. And that sex, passion and pleasure are intrinsically linked to your capacity to be present, intimate, generous, explorative and sensual, not to whether your body fits an entirely subjective and ever shifting convention of beauty. A construct that even the most beautiful creatures on the planet can feel inadequate against because it’s designed to squash, limit and propagate doubt instead of encouraging glorious confidence and wild abandon.
Why don’t we take our younger selves by the hand and give them a big juicy squeeze of encouragement. Let’s set off to find our blessings amidst the wreckage of the daily bombardment of comparison, insecurity and doubt. Let’s view the world from above so we can look down with some real perspective.
See, down there, just to the right, yes there - Beyonce. All that she is, all that talent and splendour cascading out of every pore. Imagine if she was stuck in a destructive loop comparing herself to Cameron Diaz or Jennifer Lawrence. Equally beautifully, equally magnificent but different. It would be such a painful a waste of all that Beyonce beauty. Now imagine Cameron Diaz scrolling through Selena Gomez’s Instagram, obsessing over her dark hair, her huge eyes, her precious youth. What a heartbreaking waste of Cameron Diaz’s equally magnificent but different blessings. And look at that girl there, the one reading this article - see her uniqueness, see all that she is in this moment right here.
Let’s swirl and whirl as we unravel time. Until we see the girl that looks like you way back when. Until we can see how delicious she was at her most doubtful. See how she shined but didn’t know it. See how she glows underneath all that anguish. See how the person she is comparing herself to is doing the exact same thing; comparing herself and finding herself lacking. See the irony that all this radiant beauty is not seen by the person shining.
If Emma Stone was comparing herself to Naomi Campbell and Naomi Campbell was comparing herself to Kelly Brook and Kelly Brook was comparing herself to Siena Miller and Sienna Miller was comparing herself to Lucy Liu and Lucy Liu was comparing herself to Ashley Graham and Ashley Graham was comparing herself to Zoe Kravitz and Zoe Kravitz was comparing herself to Ruby Rose and Ruby Rose was comparing herself to Taylor Swift and Taylor Swift was comparing herself to Kim Kardashian, what a silly pickle everyone would be in! The size of your breasts, the colour of your skin, the shape of your body, the texture of your hair - there is no singular thing that is most beautiful. Variety is what makes us thirstily drink in the beauty of this world.
Would we prefer to walk amongst a garden of the exact same flower or explore a garden of a billion varieties? Which feels more inspiring, exciting, bountiful? How would it look if every single flower got petal ‘fillers’ and silicon enhanced stamens until all the varietals blended into one? What would happen if they all stopped drinking in too much sunlight so they could be more delicate and frail, less powerful and bright? What if each flower stooped low, stayed closed; afraid to open fully, ashamed of its inadequacy in comparison to the other flowers?
And how would the garden look if each flower felt emboldened enough to open up and joyously share its unique height, shape, curves, lines, colours and textures, proudly honouring the gift of life?
Now, let’s float back down into our own skin and take a fresh look at the body that houses us. Take a deep breath into the lungs that carry us through each moment of the day. Acknowledge the heart beating in our chest and take a moment to be grateful for that breath and that beating heart.
Let’s gently invite ourselves to realise that the time spent sifting through the wreckage of comparison could instead be spent creating, sharing, connecting. Instead of being at war with ourselves, how would it feel to let our bodies be at peace? How would it feel to hug ourselves and appreciate ourselves with the warmth, celebration and delight we greet our friends with? From that place, from an internally friendly peaceful place, how far could we go and how brightly could we shine?