My name is Bianca. I am 20 years old. I grew up female gendered.
I also grew up with two conventionally gorgeous sisters.
I lived in an environment which applauded female beauty. I remember being around 8 at a family party when a guy made it a point to make Amanda’s beauty, my older sister, a topic of conversation. When they realized I was standing there, observing awkwardly, he said, “Oh and Bianca has such a great personality!” Even then, I knew it was a pity compliment.
These types of interactions set the stage for me to try to compete for attention the way I saw females would acquire it, through physical, orthodox beauty. I started wearing makeup regularly and straightening my unruly hair since around 4th grade.
I started exploring my spirituality in high school, immersing myself in the concepts of the soul and reincarnation. Having put in perspective the relevance of the body and soul, I realized that the body is just a vessel and not what should define the soul.
I also realized how toxic it was for my self-esteem to depend on altering my body to match the image of beauty that this society has imposed on me. At the end of the day, I had to wash my face and hair and I was back to being ashamed of my body.
So I slowly started forcing myself to accept these imperfections. Among other things, I stopped wearing makeup and making my hair flawless. During this transition period, I felt inferior to my female classmates and was frustrated that other girls were praised for perpetuating this illusion of a woman.
Once I started rewiring my brain to not be so dependent on attention for physical beauty, (doesn’t that make it sound neat and simple?), my self-esteem became dependent on other facets of myself. I started to question the validity of other norms and truths that are propagated in this society. This included the truths the government/media feeds us about other cultures and the hierarchy of species, with humans at the top, entitled to control all others.
When my mom noticed that I stopped conforming to female beauty gender norms, she sat me down for a talk. She let me know that people wouldn’t want to date me if I didn’t partake in beauty rituals, like shaving and brushing my hair. She told me that it was not worth being ostracized for it. She was genuinely concerned with the negative attention I would get. But this aggravated me, I would rather be alone than be with someone that gave a shit about me looking like a Barbie.
So the spark of the idea of putting up before and after pictures of a beauty transformation came about when I asked my younger sister Claudia what her legs looked like without shaving. She told me she didn’t know because she started shaving since before she hit puberty. These beauty norms are so ingrained that people aren’t aware of how their body could look without being restricted by them.
I wanted to write this to show an example of what a female bodied person looks like without these alterations to their body and that it’s okay to look this way. I want to display the illusion of physical beauty that most people prize in this society.
For the record, I’ve found that not conforming to these norms has helped filter the assholes and left me with amazing mates :)
My “beauty” transformation
Straighten hair (although most is in dreads)
Shaved mustache (I didn’t know I had one)
2 different concealers
2 different foundations
*I do cut my own hair around twice a year and my parents forced me to get the horrible torture device that are braces.