Perfection is a really big, really boring lie.
None of us possess perfection. No one ever has.
The illusion of perfection is something that has been sold to us for centuries but never more so than now, when we're bombarded 24/7 by faces and bodies that have been Photoshopped into oblivion, by lifestyles that have been edited in a hundred different ways before they ever even hit the screen.
Blonde hair and big butts, tiny waists and fat bank accounts, the perfect tan and perfect teeth, name brands and Botox — this is the blueprint we're given for lasting happiness and an Instagram-worthy life but it's a load of crap. We'd probably use as a moisturizer if a celebrity told us it would prevent wrinkles.
The truth is, behind the makeup and blowouts, there's a bare face and bedhead, and a person just as vulnerable as you or I. We all wake up as fragile as each other, and we all lay our heads down at night full of the same basic fears and hopes and dreams. We're so much more alike than we could ever imagine, but we never talk about it, because we're all so busy trying to be people we aren't, people we don't even really LIKE.
But what if, for one day, or even one moment, we all dropped the pretense? Let our masks fall and left our selfies sans filters? What if we were honest about our day in our Facebook status, only tweeted 140 characters of imperfection?
What we would see is a million different ways of looking at ourselves, mirror after mirror of faces and feelings just like ours, every one of them an antidote to the kind of loneliness our current culture breeds. When we stop reaching for the unattainable, we can reach for other, and when we reach for other, we can really SEE each other.
And what we'd see is beautiful.
Because beautiful is someone leaving dinner on your doorstep when you're grieving and can't face even opening the refrigerator without falling apart.
Because beautiful is handing your last five dollars to the homeless man who stands at the intersection halfway through your drive to work, not caring what he spends it on.
Because beautiful is driving all night with a lover, or a friend, or just yourself, the windows rolled down and the sky and the road meeting in an expanse of inky blackness that holds nothing, and everything, all at once.
Because beautiful is the first time he touches you, the first time she says your name like a sigh, the way it flickers through you, lightning in your bloodstream, thunder in your thighs.
Because beautiful is his first breath, and her last one, two sides of an eternal coin, the world shifting and sliding and falling back into a new arrangement, over and over.
Because beautiful is going to the store in pajama pants, or yoga pants, or maternity jeans even though you're six months postpartum. It's a mom bun and no makeup and a suspicious stain on your t-shirt that's probably spit up, and maybe you even sniff it to be sure.
Because beautiful is crying when you look at the glossy cover of this month's Cosmopolitan, wishing someone would tell you 61 Ways to Sleep Through the Night instead of 61 Sex Tips to Blow His Mind, because your sex life at this moment needs a lot more than 61 tips.
Because beautiful is your best friend holding your hair while you throw up most of what she advised you not to drink, and not even saying, "I told you so" while she does it.
Because beautiful is the tiny Korean woman at your favorite restaurant, how even though she speaks very little English, she always makes you feel like you're coming home when you walk in the door.
Because beautiful is the teacher who comes to work every day through a haze of frustration and disappointment with the system, smiling for her students, because she still believes in her calling and she still believes in their future.
Because beautiful is the gay dad, the lesbian mom, the transgender student. It's the confused kid still working out his sexuality. It's the confident kid who knows exactly who she is and refuses to apologize for it. It's everyone who has ever struggled with not being exactly what the world thinks they should be.
Because beautiful isn't about being hot, being strong, conforming to some ideal standard that most of us don't fit into and never will, hurting ourselves and others to shove our square peg selves into the round hole society has carved out for us.
Because beautiful is accepting that we all have flaws and embracing the hell out of them. It's seeing our scars as stories, and telling them with pride, realizing that even though they're our own, we all have such similar tales.
It's all our dents and scratches and scuffs, knowing that the most broken down and battered parts of ourselves are often the best, because that's where we learned what we're capable of, what LOVE is capable of, and what we can weather without giving up or giving in.
Because beautiful is you. It has nothing to do with perfection, and everything to do with who we really are. Learn to love imperfect you, because it's the best you, and it's the you that makes the world a better, more beautiful place.