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The Pursuit of Perfection 🖤


I recently watched Olivia Attwood’s series, The Price of Perfection, and was instantly inspired to write a blog about how it made me feel.

The five-part series investigates the world of plastic surgery, from popular procedures such as face lifts, to emerging trends like vaginal reconstruction.

I love Olivia Attwood and really commend her mission to shed light on some of the very real issues that multiple generations are currently facing.

No-one wants to talk about the growing addiction to plastic surgery, or the extremes some people take to pursue the social media mirage of perfection. Quite simply, no-one wishes to acknowledge it… Because it’s so frightening.

 

Now, I’m all too aware that these concerns also have the potential to affect the gents as much as they do the ladies, but I’m gonna’ focus on the gals in this piece.

Oh, to be a girl or indeed, to have a girl in this day and age. It’s terrifying on so many unspeakable levels.

 Scratch beneath the surface of this epidemic of insecure women with rapidly shattering confidence and depleting self-esteem, and it largely boils down to one factor in particular: social media. And I know this assumption echoes the opinion of many.

 

I often blog about the perils of social media and the detrimental effects it has on both our body image and the way we subconsciously live our lives.

Whether we realise it or not, the media we’re forced to consume is slowly but surely stripping us of our originality. In a flurry of likes, loves, and #goals, filters, brands and ‘quick fix’ miracle products, we’re being moulded into clones.

 

  • ‘Invest’ in these £50 pills for thicker hair in just 90 days, as per promoted with by an ex Love Islander with hair extensions and a personal stylist.

  • Rub this cream into your stretch marks and watch them vanish overnight – 99% of women surveyed agree!

  • Follow this influencer on TikTok and you too could bag yourself abs and an ass like hers!

  • POV: you buy this gone-viral dress that’s GUARNETEED to turn any man’s head, and now you’ve found the love of your life.

We’re allowing our self-worth to be determined by the very same industries that monopolise on our insecurities.

Teenage years in particular are high-pressured enough without the addition of social media contributing to the angst.

If I’d been exposed to today’s impossible beauty standards at the ages of 14, 15, 16 years old, I would have 100% crumbled under the weight of unattainable perfection.

 

If you’re a regular on my blog, you’ll be aware of the struggles I faced in terms of appearance and body image from the age of 13.

All through high school, while my peers flourished into young women, I remained childlike in my physique, which I loathed. I was very small for my age, painfully skinny, and flat all over. When I was 16, I still looked about 11. I felt like a freak: a teenager stuck in the body of a child. The teeth didn’t exactly help either: mouth like a feckin’ graveyard.

I spent the entirety of high school feeling totally invisible. I believed my looks were holding me back from experiencing the normal teenage milestones, such as being asked out on dates, going to parties, and having my first kiss.

I was continually assured that I was a ‘late bloomer’ and that my time would come. I longed for the day.

 

At college, I finally ‘blossomed’ and started to develop a bit more of a figure. I got my braces removed, weaned myself off the atrocity that was Dream Matte Mousse, and poured my new body into clothes that flattered my shape.

I was rocketed into a big friendship group, and OMG, boys actually noticed my existence for the first time in like, ever! 🤣

My confidence soured, although deep down I was still blisteringly scarred from the inwardly directed self-abuse 13 year old me had had to endure.

 

College was one of the most blissful times of my life, and a period I still think of with such fondness. When I look back at photos of my 17, 18 year old self, I see a truly beautiful version of me. Beneath the 87 layers of Superdrug fake tan and Barry M ‘foil effect’ nail varnish (just why?), I see the happiness that I carried with me during that time. I see the friendship, the laughter, the experiences, the memories. Within the photos, my eyes sparkle with a passion for life, and a love for the people I was blessed enough to share that time with. I’m so proud of that girl, and have so much to thank her for. She was the first version of me who’d ever really dared to believe in myself, and I owe so much to her defiance and bravery.

My Mum used to say that being young was beautiful in itself. Of course, at the time, I scoffed at this observation, but I totally get it now. I only wish my younger self had believed it.

When I was at college – between the years of 2011 and 2013 – the only social media that people really used was Facebook.

Back in 2011, Facebook was simply a site that allowed us to upload photo albums of 112 images from one single night out in town, entitled something like ‘Grab Somebody S3XY Tell Em H3Y.’

Alternatively, you could log on and give your ‘crush’ a ‘cheeky poke.’

As much as we liked Facebook, we didn’t live our entire lives through it.

We certainly weren’t slaves to the online rat race.

 

There was no Instagram, no TikTok, no OnlyFans, no AI, no influencers… And we were better off for it. We didn’t have airbrushed images of flawlessness relentlessly shoved down our throats. We had the freedom to make mistakes and age ungracefully, and we have the cringey photos to prove the various disasters! We clumsily muddled our way through our teenage years. We made mistakes, we kissed the wrong people, we wore truly terrible clothes (Paul’s Boutique 4LYF, huns xox), and we overplucked our ‘brows.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We grew up slowly, and I do wonder whether we were the last generation to enjoy this privilege.

Nowadays, I’m generally happy with the way I look. After years of countless ups and downs, I can no longer be arsed ripping myself apart.

Sure, my lips could be plumper, my face fuller, and my fried-egg boobs bigger… But then I wouldn’t be me.

Life's too short to waste time feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. Surprisingly, anorexia has actually helped me to realise this.

I don't care that I have the silhouette of a stick insect, because this is the body that's still here, standing tall (well, standing at five foot, anyway...), after years of anorexia.

I don't care that my somewhat toothy smile makes me look about 9 years old, because - as cringey as it sounds - having reasons to smile is such a blessing.

Our bodies are the home we’re always going to have – the very least we can do is be at peace with all that makes them, them.


A couple of months ago, following a relationship breakup that knocked my confidence, I booked myself in to get my lips done. I was quoted just shy of £300 for the procedure, which would need to be topped up every three months.

A week before my appointment, I finally saw sense and cancelled. I was so unbelievably angry at myself for even considering it, and when I watched Olivia’s Attwood’s show, I felt all the more disappointed that I'd almost caved and dipped my toe into the toxic, never-ending world of surgery. For someone who has previously struggled with confidence issues, I know that having surgery would have been the beginning of the end.

 

I am ALL for women gaining self-confidence however they choose, but I can’t shake the niggling suspicion that plastic surgery actually leaves people feeling worse about themselves, rather than better. You do it once, and you get accustomed to the instant dopamine-fuelled confident boost and the ensuing compliments. As a result, one small tweak turns into a recurring procedure as you chase that first high, over and over again. And then you start to wonder what else you can fix, nip, tuck, change.

The cycle spirals, until you no longer look like you.

 

It begs the question… Where does it end? 

All I can think of is that scene in White Chicks where she goes, “Oh, we get our knees done!” (if you know, you know!) 🤣

 

On to another topic…

 

Pamela Anderson has recently been making waves for her decision to go make-up free to various awards ceremonies.

Have you seen the photos? She looks bloody SENSATIONAL! 😍She oozes class, confidence, and natural beauty – all important and aspirational qualities.

While many of the news outlets support Pamela’s bare-faced beauty, there have also been various trolling headlines tearing her down.

 

It’s like that disgusting post some ass-hat thought it okay to share about Keely Shaye Smith, Pierce Brosnan’s stunning wife. The post basically hinted that Keely looks different to how she did at the beginning of their relationship.

I mean, God, give us all strength.

FIND ME SOMEONE WHO DOES LOOK THE EFFING SAME AS THEY DID 20 YEARS AGO, FFS!!

(PS: if I look as radiant as Keely Shay Smith at the age of 60, I’ll be absolutely buzzing – just sayin’.)

Rather than blasting this lovely lady, why don’t we instead celebrate her achievements as an author, or swoon over her successful 20 year marriage?

Or, why don’t we all just mind our own goddam business, and not pass comment on other people?


More recently, the media has been swarming with vile abuse aimed at Lauren Fryer, the long-term girlfriend of Arsenal footballer Declan Rice.

Right, before I continue, can we all just take a moment here to appreciate how actually BEAUTIFUL Lauren is?! 😍 She’s refreshingly free from fillers and extensions, she wears a modest amount of make up that compliments her gorgeous complexion and eyes, and she’s just an all-round natural gal.

Like I say, I’m all about women doing whatever makes them feel confident, so if fillers and extensions give you a boost (and you’re not hiding yourself to conform to the pressures of others), then absolutely, you do you! BUT… don’t then hold other women to your own [often hugely unobtainable for the majority] beauty standards.

And, if you’re a man that’s been slating Lauren - or you’re a male who has ever spat venom at a woman for nothing more than the way she looks - then you’re basically a dick, and that makes you unattractive beyond belief.

Lauren has been subject to that much abuse, she’s actually wiped her Instagram.

In what world is this in any way acceptable?! Whether words are spoken aloud or via a screen, bullying is NOT okay! Seriously! I can’t believe I’m even having to type this. 😖

In the words of gym positivity advocate Joey Swoll… ‘You need to do better. Mind your own business!’

Keely Shaye Smith, Pamela Anderson, and Lauren Fryer are all mothers.

Imagine reading that sort of abuse aimed at your Mum, your wife, your sister, or God forbid, your daughter.

Imagine reading it about yourself. No, really imagine it. Just take a moment to imagine that someone has invaded your privacy, taken a photo of you, and posted it online with the intention of mocking you, for no reason whatsoever.

It’s unacceptable, and sadly goes to show that bullying is not left behind in the school playground.

There should be a ban of this sort of gutter press. Caroline Flack’s #bekind movement soon died a death, didn’t it?

What world are we bringing our girls up in?

In January 2024, I decided to stop wearing foundation, after 17 years of hiding behind it. I went cold turkey on the ol’ Rimmel 35 Hour Coverage (who’s wearing foundation for precisely 35 hours anyway?!).

I don’t have the best skin in the world, but I’m just so tired of waking up early each morning to decorate, embellish, and change myself for the fear of what others might think.

Weirdly,  over the past couple of months, I’ve started to feel more confident and empowered leaving the house fresh-faced than I do with layers of foundation.

Funnily enough, my skin has also improved since I stopped caking it in make-up.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I love dressing up and going out-out as much as the next person, but I know the me that totters around in heels with her hair immaculately curled and her lips tinted deep red isn’t an accurate representation of how I look 99% of the time.

 

I ponder the moments that I feel the happiest and most content in my own skin, and I automatically think of the version of me that runs. When I run, I ditch the make-up entirely, shove my hair into its frizzy, trademark Wednesday Addams plaits, and am usually covered in mud from the knee down. My cheeks flame naturally with the thrilling combination of adrenaline and fresh air.

I adore the glow that running gives me.

When I run, I feel on top of the world; untouchable. This elation ebbs from the inside out, and radiates across my face.

I feel attractive because I’m joyous, strong, alive… And free.

I’m free, because even if just for a couple of hours, I’m spared of trying to conform to society’s tightly set standards.

 

I feel so desperately sad for every single woman and girl who feels trapped by a world that’s seemingly intent on creating a culture of self-loathing.

If you do just one thing after reading this blog, please make it this: listen to the song Fuckin' Perfect by P!nk. Listen to it now, and promise me – promise yourself – that you’ll listen to it every time you feel like you’re not enough. 💕


Makeup free apart from my ‘brows and a blob of ill-matched concealer over my cystic acne 🤣 happy and content, regardless. 💕


Cara Jasmine Bradley ©

 

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