“Imperfection is beauty.”
This is one of my favorite lines from one of my all-time favorite quotes by Marilyn Monroe.:
“Imperfection is beauty. Madness is genius. And it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
Marilyn had it right all along. Love that lady. Always will.
The idea of loving your imperfections has always rung strong with me ever since I was little. But it hasn’t always been such an easy act of the mind. Especially today, in this digital world, not to mention the fashion industry. Social media + fashion can be quite a harsh thing to bombard your self-confidence with. We are thrown each day images of beauty from all directions. Always something new and sparkly. Each girl skinnier than the next. Skin more glowing. Pretty dresses. Expensive shoes. Big lips. Long hair. Blue eyes. As someone whose full-time job revolves around social media and digital connections, it’s my job to notice and see these things and interpret them, and hopefully in the end make something of them that help me view fashion (as well as myself) in a positive way. It’s not easy though.
It’s really flattering of course to always have people comment (some people I personally know, many of whom I don’t) really nice things about what I’m wearing or how I look. It’s nice to know that someone is appreciating what I put out there, because no matter what I try to be myself the best that I can. An online persona can easily be deceiving. So many so-called perfect lives out there in the world it seems on that little grid on our phones called Instagram. The way I see it, as long as I am able to inspire by being myself and expressing my values and the way I see the world via my true nature, then I believe that I am doing my part. There is no need for me to hear these comments (no matter how lovely they can be). I post what I like and things that represent who I am, and that’s really all that matters. Yes, getting the comments and the likes helps me get more work (and yes, I am just a girl getting by in the big bad city of NYC), but never would I ever fake it to make it. I’m proud to say that I have never been that sort of person. Nor do I think I ever could. And I think it has a lot to do with how I was raised and how I have perceived myself growing up. Working hard and loving yourself go hand in hand. And I am by far NOT PERFECT. Quite the opposite in fact.
When I saw the above image on Pinterest it really stuck out to me. Why you ask? Well, not many people know this about me (or would even notice this about me), but I grew up with scoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine. I found out in elementary school, and was forced to wear a back brace 23 hours a day to help my spine get straight again during the years I was growing (the curvature was around 20 degrees at the time). A back brace is not the most coveted option for a a girl just about to head to junior high school. I fought and fought and fought against the mere idea of it. I mean I was already too tall, too skinny, and too ethnically ambiguous enough. I went to a school that was mostly all-white and hispanic. For me, being a little bit of everything ethnically was definitely different. Did I really need another thing to draw attention to myself? I mean, what kind of boy is going to want to kiss a girl with a back brace on???!!?? Not to mention the braces on her teeth, as well. Double whammy dudes. Come on. So I lied to my doctor and only wore it at night. It helped lessen the curvature of my spine a little, but after a year of totally not wearing it in high school to see if it would stay the same or get worse, guess what happened. Yup, my the degrees of curvature of my spine got severely worse (over 40 degrees), and my only option was surgery. I was freaking scared, I was freaking pissed that I was born with something that I could not control, and I definitely did not seem beautiful at all. I felt sub-conscious all throughout high school about my body and beat myself up over it.
Finally, I underwent the surgery when I was 18, after strong recommendation by my doctor. It was a time-consuming surgery and the recovery was quite long and painful, but I was strong. My doctor was perplexed that I already started driving myself to and from school after two months (wasn’t that easy though). Sitting for long periods of time wasn’t pleasant at all. And I felt like I grew an inch or two after the surgery, which took some getting used to. I wasn’t able to pursue dancing as much anymore, which I was sort of heartbroken about at first, but nearly 10 years later and I’m still the queen of the dance floor (or at least I think I am). And you know what, my spine wasn’t really that big of a deal throughout that all. It was just a bump in the road that easily flattened as I put my focus on other things. College, falling in love, falling out of love, travel, my career, moving all the way to the other side of the country after having only like two days to think about the option.
Today, I don’t even think about the two thin titanium rods that line each side of my spine, screwed in securely into my vertebrae. It’s as if they aren’t even there anymore. And if I ever do get the rare chance to catch a glimpse of the light scar than runs down the length of my spine, I don’t flinch, but I feel proud. I always said it was my symbol of strength and my own personal stamp of approval. The stamp of approval that you give to yourself weighs so much more than the ones you get from anyone else. Just saying. And maybe someday I’ll get a tattoo to run alongside it. It’s not something that I’ll ever think of as ugly again.
It’s interesting to see how much a mindset can change when you really make an effort to accept yourself for who you are and to focus on the things outside of your body that make you feel happy and worthwhile. I can’t even really remember the entire process, but it happened, slowly but surely, because deep down inside I really wanted it to. I may not even quite be there yet, but I’m most of the way there, and as an adult in her (do I dare say it) LATE 20’s, that’s a lot to say.
So there you go. An outcome that could have left me feeling forever imperfect, and that is in fact literally imperfect, may just be one of the many aspects of myself that are perfect for just that actual reason. Because they are mine and no one else’s. And yes I might be the tallest girl in the room in most situations, but at least everyone tells me I can wear anything because of my height. I might not have sparkly blue eyes like my Dad’s, but I love my brown one’s that look green in the sun and are shaped like almonds. I might not have the perfect little ski-slope nose like the ones I see in beauty campaigns, but I love mine that reminds me of my Chinese mother and half-hispanic father. It gives me character. It used to be the thing I hated most about myself when I was younger, but now I have far more things to worry about than a little bump on my face. ha. I’m naturally thin, but no I don’t fit into a size 26 jeans like I did when I was 18, but hey I appreciate eating and drinking beer whenever I feel and not beating myself up for it afterwards. A reason why I decided to not go down the modeling path when I was 15. I could’t imagine living a life where only my face and body was what I was being defined by. It still is, sort of in a way. It’s inescapable in the industry I work in, but there are so many more aspects of myself to put out there with. Why limit myself to just what is physical. There’s so much more to me than just my body and face. The closest I’ll get to modeling is an Instagram picture, and I’m totally and completely happy with that.
I have learned that the more that I come to accept my “imperfections”, the more I am able to love myself with no regrets. Imperfectly perfect. It is what makes us unique. Now get on and start loving yourself when you look in the mirror, and the rest will come.