“Ooh, that’s not a good angle,” he said. I no longer wanted to share the rest of my holiday photos.
I’d flicked onto one of my friend – though it made little difference to know that it was her he was referring. It may as well have been you or me in the photo. It was my friend though, leaning back on her arm, hip towards the camera. Pouting as I pointed the lens towards her, she had fallen into this sluggish stance. We giggled as she poked fun at a model pose.
She was joking, I told him – although I was sure he knew it (it was blatantly obvious). Nonetheless, I felt a need to enforce it. His response had frustrated me; thinking back, it still does.
Despite the camera in her face, this girl was hardly concerned with the way she looked. The moment was hers – as was the joke. She posed with comfort, with an unconscious confidence. She was in her element; attractive purely because she was so full of life, utterly content to make fun of herself.
She was on holiday: food babies were as recurring as crepe stops, as rose-shaped gelato. We walked all day discovering green-grassed parks. We filled our bellies with the sweetest treats in their midst. It was as gorgeous for our souls as it was for our bodies. Our days were spent celebrating the opportunity around us, ah, the immense culture this world has to offer! The photo caught just that.
A critique of her body and – in his eyes – it’s ill positioning, was besides the point; it was absolutely uncalled for. Whether she was present or not to hear it, how dare you?
How dare you take this moment of contentment; this moment which has refused the limitation of self-consciousness; where we have found ourselves too busy enjoying life, the individuals we are and equally those who surround us. How dare you think it’s okay, as an onlooker, to take art which encompasses all that is real and truly matters – and bring it back to something as frivolous as physicality? Better yet, the way an individual’s body appears in one photo?
Captain hindsight has never made it more securely to the dock; I wish I had blown it with this guy. The tone that filtered his comment was in no way playful or jesting. It was critical. It implied firstly, that his opinion mattered on a moment or a vision that was not his to assess. And too, that she’d regret taking the photo if she saw it, that she’d desire it be deleted. You see, unfortunately, it didn’t compliment her body – just her happiness.
If her awesome, fun-loving personality was a cigarette, he had dropped it on the ground and stepped on it to remind us what was apparently more notable: the way she looked.
And I want to say two things – not just to girls, but to anyone and everyone who has ever been forced to consider their body as the measure of their being.
Let us lose this idea that we must look attractive in all we do; that as girls especially, we must look perfect and poised and pretty. Stop shopping for flattering clothes. If a dress hugs your hips, and that makes you feel good, then friend-to-friend, that’s fucking epic. But if you desire to wear culottes – despite how they double the size of your calves – wear them. Don’t let some stereotype detail what’s attractive for you. Better yet, stop being victim to the proclaimed importance of “being attractive”.
It might come as a shock, but we as humans were not actually made to be attractive in all our endeavours on this universe. So you look shit when you dance? God, some higher power, or your body in it’s very nature, is essentially shouting at you to dance anyway.
Secondly, girls – but also guys – stop letting others reduce you to your body or the way you look – regardless of whether the focus is intended to be positive or negative. You are so much more than an object of sexual appeal. You are made for eating waffles, for falling over in hysterics, for climbing mountains too.
“Bad angles” will only ever threaten our happiness if we recognise a good one as all we have to offer. Let us not act to belittle ourselves by disregarding our incredible personalities, the individuality and value embedded in our decision-making, in what makes us feel alive and purposeful in this world.
To the boy who made the comment last August, to the boys and girls who will make the comments, please realise that self-perception issues were once rooted by such blinded conversation. Our inability to change the way we speak has merely watered an importance of appearance in society today.
Please, let us rewrite the definition of being deemed attractive – for what currently represents it is heavily out-dated and we’re not growing because of it. If you look like you’re having the time of your life, then this will be the new beautiful. Beauty will be measured not by the extent an angle compliments our body shape, but by how well it reveals the vivacity of our spirit.
Most importantly though, no one – not a single soul – will be considered unattractive in a moment where they are enjoying themselves.
Shot by Two Dark Coffees