What is the cost of visibility online? With the power of social media, everyone wants to be visible and they would go to extreme lengths just to be seen. Women who think they are not up to the beauty standard would go to TikTok just to laugh at themselves. All of that just to be seen. It’s crazy because you don’t have to care about how you look. Everyone has different perceptions of beauty. Join Whitney Lauritsen as she shares more about the cons of wanting to be visible. Learn the consequence of fitting in. Whitney talks about the new beauty trend on TikTok and the comment she posted about it. Discover the Oops Ouch Educate model of dealing with different perceptions. Find out why people want to be visible, especially on social media. And, Whitney shares her thoughts on gender reveal parties in today’s cultural climate. Learn the expense of visibility today!
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The Expense Of Visibility: The Consequences Of Fitting In
I feel fired up. It’s tricky because sometimes I’m not in the mood. Sometimes I don’t feel like I have the creative energy to record. This is a big exception in a couple of ways. 1) Is I can’t wait to talk about what I’m going to talk about. 2) I have multiple things I could talk about. I don’t think I have the energy to record two episodes but I’m tempted. As you may know, I’m traveling soon. I’m also going to need to record some episodes much farther in advance.
It feels good to have a topic that I feel deeply connected with and that I want to explore with you. I also want to acknowledge the fact that this episode comes out on the 4th of July, 2022, which would have been an interesting thing to look further into. Back in the day with Jason, we used to do very time-sensitive, time-centered or holiday-centered episodes. I used to plan a lot of content around the day that the episodes came out.
I don’t know if we ever released one on the 4th of July and if we ever talked about it because off the top of my head, I have a sense memory that there might be something problematic about the 4th of July that might be worth talking about. I feel ignorant at this moment. It’s interesting because it feels like a privilege to be ignorant of things that are or could be problematic.
I’m not trying to take any magic away from some of these celebrations but I’m trying to be mindful of holidays and what they mean. A great example too was June 20th. That was tied into June 19th or Juneteenth. I still feel pretty ignorant about what Juneteenth means even though I thought in 2022, there was a lot of media dedicated to that day, which was incredibly helpful for me not understanding it. Cultural awareness and conversation are helpful because it’s easy to celebrate things.
Thanksgiving is a great example that maybe you were raised to believe as being happy and unproblematic but sometimes it takes a lot of education and mindful conversations to realize that not all holidays feel the same to others. That ties into our topic. I want to acknowledge that it’s summer. The 4th of July often feels like a very summer-focused and fun day. I hope this day does not trigger anything negative for you and that you are enjoying it or have enjoyed it.
I’m traveling. I am so excited to talk more about that experience and share what’s going on with that but that’s not what this episode is about. Partially, it’s about perceptions. How one thing feels to one person may not feel the same to others. It’s almost impossible for things to feel the same. I’m passionate about keeping myself aware of that and checking in with others.
I learned something along these lines. I’m part of something called the Food Justice and Policy Team Coalition. We had a meeting to discuss how we were going to work together to advocate for Food Justice and Policy. Something I learned from that was this terminology called Oops-Ouch-Educate. From what I understand, that’s a framework for acknowledging that you may make a mistake. Your Oops, say something that might not be accurate, fit into the context, and turn anything besides accuracy.
An Oops is a mistake and probably an unintentional one. The Ouch is when you say something that hurts somebody or triggers somebody. The Educate is an opportunity for that person who’s acknowledging the mistake, feeling hurt or triggered for them to educate the person who said something that triggered that. Hopefully, I described that well. That framework has resonated with me.
It’s so important in spaces where you are talking to people who have drastically different life experiences or are very different from you. One, in that context, was race. You might unintentionally say something that is not right or factual or something that triggers somebody. It’s because you have very different life experiences and backgrounds, and you are just different. It’s an opportunity for somebody to educate you on why that hurt or was a mistake so you can grow from it.
Even though I have a fear of making mistakes and try hard not to tread lightly, there’s no way around it. I will inevitably say something that is misinterpreted or hurtful to somebody or might not be right. Maybe I think it’s right but it’s not. That has been a huge part of my journey as a podcaster. I welcome the Oops-Ouch-Educate model from people like you who might want to take an opportunity to educate me on something that felt like a mistake to you, was a mistake or was hurtful to you.
How You Perceive Yourself
The reason I’m bringing this up is that I had one of those moments on TikTok that was interesting. I saw two videos in the context of a short amount of time of my TikTok scrolling that was playing on this trend of women. I’m trying to describe this visually, especially if you are not on TikTok or you don’t know about this trend. It’s typically a woman that shows her front view, meaning her face and the front outline of her body.
She’s standing toward the camera and showing how she feels sexy or hot from that view. The music changes, and suddenly, the music sounds off. The tone has changed. I can’t remember exactly what song has been used for this trend but it turns into almost clown music. It goes from cool music to not-cool music or sexy music to not-so-sexy music. I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s like. I will have to go seek it out again.
When the music changes, the perspective changes too. Now you see a side view of this girl. Generally, her side view is a very different view of her body. The text on the screen starts from the front view saying, “What I think I look like.” When the side view changes, the text on the screen says something along the lines of, “What other people see me as.” When I view this trend, it seems like girls are saying, “I feel sexy when somebody sees me from one angle but they are seeing me from a non-sexy angle.”
The reason this has become such a big trend from my perspective is that it feels very relatable. It reminds me of the times when I’ve gotten ready, gone out, and felt sexy, hot, cool, and confident in how I looked. Someone took a picture of me. I saw it later, and I didn’t think the photo was flattering. I felt like, “Is that what I look like? I must not be as hot, sexy or beautiful as I thought because of that photo.”People's appearance is generally a huge part of their self-esteem, and that's not fully in their control. Click To Tweet
That’s something that I’ve experienced throughout my life. I remember being fairly young and seeing photos that triggered a lot of shame for me, especially photos my friends would take. I would think, “I’m not that pretty. I don’t look as good as I thought I did.” It’s that awful feeling of wondering if how we perceive ourselves is not in alignment with reality. That can feel painful, especially if our self-worth is tied to our appearance.
I’m always trying not to make this a gender issue. For many people, our appearance is generally a huge part of our self-esteem. That might not fully feel within our control. That might not even be something that we are fully aware of. As I’ve researched this, one of my favorite sources for information on beauty culture is Jessica DeFino. She has a phenomenal newsletter. She goes by she/her. I don’t want to misgender Jessica. Jessica’s newsletter is called The Unpublishable.
It’s probably my favorite newsletter. I have been thinking about revamping the Wellevatr newsletter, which I’m pausing. I’m feeling very drawn to relaunching the Wellevatr newsletter in the style of Jessica’s The Unpublishable because she has this amazing ability to convey knowledge and wisdom but also feels like a friend to me. Jessica feels relatable but has authority. I learned so much.
I bring Jessica up because I sat down and started taking notes intentionally. I’m trying to go through every single newsletter she has published because I haven’t done that. When I read this newsletter, I want to take notes. It’s almost like I’m reading an eBook or something. Something that stood out in one of these newsletters was that beauty standards have always been physical manifestations of systems of oppression.
In one of her segments, Jessica wrote about how it’s harder for women and girls to opt out of spending their time, money, and energy on aesthetic labor without facing financial and social consequences, meaning that there are consequences to opting out of the beauty standards. That hit home for me. No wonder many of us are concerned with our appearances and how people perceive us because we are likely very afraid of the consequences of not fitting into the beauty standards. That has a massive ripple effect. It’s probably more than most of us have stopped to think about.
I’m going back to this TikTok trend where I saw multiple girls showing their front and side views, which was a direct comparison. My perception of that was they don’t think they look as pretty, sexy or appealing in the side view. I wrote in the comment section of one of these TikTok videos something along the lines of expressing how I felt like it was hard to watch these videos because they didn’t come across to me as being accepting.
They came across as virtually, our side views and profile views were not as attractive. This is something I see people say a lot on TikTok. It wasn’t these specific women that posted these videos. It wasn’t the one that I commented on. I wasn’t trying to call this person out but somebody else in the comment section was saying something similar. I commented back to this person, saying, “I agree.” I don’t think I used the word disappointing. Maybe I did.
I commented something is conveying frustrations and disappointment. The creator writes back something along the lines of, “I wasn’t saying that I wasn’t as attractive from the side.” I stepped back. I’m still processing that comment because I’m not sure that I believe them, to be honest. It’s easy to say, “I’m just saying that I look different from the side,” which is part of what her comment was saying.
When you show the front of your body and say, “This is where I feel hot, sexy, and confident,” and then you show the side of your body and say, “This is how other people perceive me,” isn’t that saying that the way other people perceive you isn’t hot and sexy? This is all going off my memory. I don’t even remember the words that were on the screen but this is my perception.
Oops, Ouch, Educate Moment
This is going back to that Oops-Ouch-Educate formula or framework. It felt like an Ouch to me to see women. I’ve seen countless women do this over months. It has always rubbed me the wrong way. I take back the always because maybe the first time I saw one of those videos, I thought it was funny because it felt relatable. It was relatable because, for example, I’ve seen photos of myself, videos or whatever it is feeling like the way that I looked in the camera was very different from how I felt. I can relate but to see that over and over again gave me pause after a while.
I thought, “Are we reinforcing the idea that how we feel about ourselves is not in alignment with how other people perceive us. Is that creating more insecurity?” To go back to my example, when I was younger, that created massive insecurity. It also has a deep ripple effect. This is where the Oops comes in for me. It ouches me. I’m triggered by this trend, not these individual girls. I’m not trying to call them out. I am curious, though, how much awareness that girl had who tried to say something along the lines that almost like she was backpedaling, “I didn’t mean it that way.”
How else was that supposed to be perceived? How else could you interpret the comparison between a front view and the side view or the profile view? This part is interesting to me. It’s when the way that the woman is positioning her body drastically changes. Even that posture changed from the shoulders back, looking proud and confident. There is scientific research that shows the difference in energy that we convey to others based on how we hold our bodies.
To go from that confident stance to a slumped or shrugged over and maybe sticking the belly out type of pose, you can personally claim that profile is acceptable, beautiful, and sexy certainly but culturally, I don’t believe that to be the case. When you dig into the work of people like Jessica DeFino, who studies beauty culture, and I don’t have a specific example of this but her body of work, in general, is sharing how we have set standards. If you go against it, you risk social consequences.
We can’t ignore racism. For example, we can say as White people, “I didn’t mean that to be racist,” but if our words are typically considered racist, it’s not a matter of our intention. Hopefully, I’m articulating that right. I make mistakes on the show and cause Oops and Ouches regularly despite my best intention. That’s why it’s helpful not to get defensive but to acknowledge how we are triggering others.Beauty standards have always been physical manifestations of systems of oppression. Click To Tweet
This caused me to go down this whole rabbit hole that I’m still on because I read her comment, and my first reaction was, “Maybe she didn’t mean it that way. I could try to accept that.” The next level was, “Is she trying to cover up and backpedal? Does she not realize what this body of work or this trend represents as a whole and how that as a whole is problematic?”
It’s not her specific video but participating in a trend that’s pitting women’s bodies against themselves is further pushing this idea that there’s a difference between how we perceive ourselves and other people and that if they don’t align, this is part of the issue here and why I want to take this apart. I stick to my guns here. Reading so much about this and having so many of those experiences reminds me of that scene in Mean Girls.
If you haven’t seen it, there is this moment when there are four girls. There’s Lindsay Lohan, and I don’t remember all the other girls from the top of my head. That cast is amazing. When you look back, all of them are very famous. Yet right off the top of my head, I can’t even name them all. Lindsay Lohan is playing this girl who moved from South Africa to wherever else in the United States.
She’s the new girl. She, because of the way that she was raised, doesn’t understand a lot of the social norms at the school. She gets drawn into the popular group. All the popular girls befriend her. The “Queen Bee,” or the blonde girl, is standing in front of a mirror and starting to complain about a part of her body. Her other two friends start complaining about their bodies too. Lindsay Lohan is standing there awkwardly, watching them do this.
They turned to her and asked, “What part of your body don’t you like?” They think, if I remember correctly, that she makes up something to fit in. The reality is that moment is showing that she doesn’t feel that insecure about her body but the girls manipulate or peer pressure her into finding a flaw within herself. That scene is also conveying how girls are bonding over their flaws.
That’s interesting too because maybe it feels good to know that other people find flaws within themselves. I felt that growing up. I still do. It feels good to notice other people’s mistakes sometimes so then you don’t feel like someone is perfect or better than you. It feels good to have someone else notice something they don’t like about their body, so you can say, “Me too or FU. I’m not the only one that is uncomfortable in my body.”
As that scene points out, it’s perpetuating itself and drawing other people in. What if somebody saw that trend on TikTok and didn’t feel uncomfortable about their side profile but they saw enough of those videos? Suddenly they think, “Is there something wrong with my side view too?” What if they have the same shape body as this girl? This girl is reinforcing insecurity about themselves.
I have never had a flat stomach. That has been a source of a lot of discomforts. I spent so many years of my life trying to flatten my stomach. Even though, to this day, when I don’t try that hard, there’s still part of me that thinks about it all the time. It’s sad because I’ve spent so much mental energy, time, and money in the span of my life trying to get a flat stomach. For what reason truly? Is the reason because I don’t want to pay the social consequences? Is the reason because I’ve been told over and over again by the media that if I don’t have a flat stomach, then I’m less than, not as pretty or as hot?
For me, that’s where that Ouch comes in when I see a video like that because when I see a girl complaining about her profile view, specifically her stomach being emphasized in a video like that, it’s that message coming again and saying, “Whitney, that girl’s body isn’t good enough. She doesn’t have a flat stomach. Since you don’t have a flat stomach, you must not be as good. Your side view is not as good as your front view.”
Voicing Your Feelings
It’s seeing other people point out these things over and over again about themselves. That can be incredibly triggering and cause harm even if it doesn’t trigger an old memory or feeling. If that feeling isn’t there, maybe it’s planting that seed in the first place. The fact that the girl who posted that video doesn’t see a problem with that is concerning. She isn’t willing to acknowledge it or is too busy trying to defend herself. I get the defensive.
I have a big challenge with feeling misunderstood. One of the most uncomfortable things for me is when I say or do something, and it’s misinterpreted. However, when somebody else articulates an Ouch, that’s where I’m learning to say, “This is not the time to be defensive, say it was misunderstood or try to defend my original point.” What I’ve learned and what I’m practicing since I’m still working on this is this. What if somebody said that to me? Let’s say I put out a video. I’m sure I have.
I’m willing to bet that somewhere in my YouTube history, I’ve done something like that or commented and joined in on it. This is not to say I have not done these things but with present-day Whitney, I would hope that if the same thing happened to me, I would first acknowledge my trigger of being misunderstood because that would probably cause me to want to defend myself.
I could avoid that knee-jerk reaction, take some pause, and say, “What this person is saying is that was an Ouch for them and maybe an Oops. Perhaps I could ask them to educate me instead of defending myself because collectively, that makes more of a difference.” The other side of it too is when that girl wrote back her message. It wasn’t defensive. She didn’t come across as angry-defensive. She was more like clarifying, perhaps. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who commented that, so she felt she had to say something.
I get the desire to clear the air. You see this happen all the time in comment sections of things. It’s so common for things to be misinterpreted and misconstrued. People get on a bandwagon. I don’t know what the context for her responding to me was. What’s tricky is that she got defensive. I started to question my comment and think, “Am I being “overly” sensitive? Is this the issue that I’m projecting onto her? What if it is innocent?” I started to doubt all these things that I had been sharing.People are not perfect, so they're going to make fun of the fact that they're not perfect to psychologically fit in with others. Click To Tweet
“What if I should let it go? Why did I need to comment?” In hindsight or at this moment, I’m realizing that I commented because it was an Ouch and maybe an Oops. I’m trying to find the words, strength, and confidence to let people know when it’s an Ouch or an Oops. That’s challenging for me because I don’t like confrontation. I get very nervous, especially around a stranger. I don’t have a lot of psychological safety with them.
It’s hard to share feelings in place of strangers who might not accommodate your feelings, engage in a psychologically safe dialogue, be open-minded, and be in the same mental space as you. I wasn’t trying to get into a debate. I found myself thinking, “Whitney, why did you post this? What if a bunch of other people starts ganging up on me?”
That mob mentality is interesting. That in itself is tricky because when you try to speak up on something that hurts and you are afraid of being attacked for voicing your feelings, that’s sad because then what do you do? If you don’t feel comfortable voicing the Ouch, you internalize it instead and feel further shame and hurt. What if, in these spaces, we don’t feel comfortable pointing out an Oops because of that?
It’s very tricky to talk about beauty culture. It’s tricky enough talking about racism. I’m deeply passionate about noticing racism, capitalism, the patriarchy, and all of these forms of oppression. I’m noticing them everywhere. I finished a book that ties into this too called Belly of the Beast. It’s a book about the racist roots of fatphobia. There’s also messaging in that book about transphobia and gender issues. There’s so much in there. It was eye-opening to see the historical side of hatred for larger bodies.
Here I am commenting on another White woman who maybe can’t see the issue here because she’s White, young or has some privilege. She, because of that privilege, doesn’t have to examine those things. Maybe it’s because the beauty standards are in her favor. What if her making a video like that is a way for her to fit in? What if that’s why this is a trend? If they don’t feel like they meet the current beauty standards, they feel like the only way to fit in is to make fun of themselves for not meeting those standards.
What if that’s a safety measure like the movie Mean Girls? Like, “I’m not perfect, so I’m going to make fun of the fact that I’m not perfect to at least psychologically fit in with others because nobody feels perfect. We all have flaws. Let’s all point them out. That’s the way that we bond.” It’s like gossiping. If we can gossip about other people, it often creates a sense of safety. That’s how we come together in our shared feelings.
Maybe me calling out made her feel unsafe. That’s why she defended herself. It’s interesting because what she posted made me feel unsafe. I was trying to call that out as a way of saying, “Can we bring attention to this? What if we stop participating in these trends?” I’m not saying we should never talk about our flaws but should we? Honestly, in general, I take a lot of issues with that.
I feel so uncomfortable when other people talk about their flaws. Maybe it’s that Mean Girls moment too. It’s almost as if I’m the Lindsay Lohan character. Her name is Cady in that movie. If someone else complains about her gray hair, does that mean that she thinks it’s socially unacceptable that I have gray hair and that I’m not dying it? Does that mean that there’s something wrong with that? Am I going to have to pay these social consequences?
Looking Socially Unacceptable
Suddenly, she highlighted an issue that I wasn’t concerned with before it was brought up. The other random thing was nails. There’s this sound trend. I’ve seen at least a few videos of girls saying that they feel psychologically safer with girls that don’t get their nails done. I don’t do my nails. I maybe get one manicure a year. It’s an exception. I typically cut my nails. I don’t even file them.
I’m the most basic person when it comes to stuff. I don’t do most beauty things in general. I don’t enjoy it. Doing my nails, especially the long nails that are in style, is not my thing. I have zero interest in it. Maybe painting my nails or getting a manicure with short nails is cool. I like the way that looks, although I cannot stand it when the nail polish starts to chip off and then I have to take the nail polish off. It’s such a pain. It’s like my hair. It’s one of the reasons I’m trying not to dye my hair again.
I’m not saying that as a statement like, “I will never dye my hair again,” but for the indefinite future, I don’t intend to dye my hair and my grays because when I used to dye my hair, which was years ago, I couldn’t stand on my roots starting to grow in. I was so annoyed. I’m like, “Do you mean I have to go back to the salon again and spend more money and time because I have a little bit of my root showing?” That’s when I stopped. I was like, “No, thanks. This is not worth it for me.”
There’s this video trend of feeling more comfortable or something around girls that don’t get their nails done. You would think that someone like me who doesn’t get her nails done would take that as a compliment but in a way, I saw that video and thought, “Do you mean I’m on the outside? I’m in the minority of women because I don’t get my nails done. Is that what this trend is trying to say?”
That’s how it came across. I wasn’t offended but I stepped back and thought about it. I’ve had several moments like that throughout my life. There was a time when somebody pointed out my eyebrows. I never thought about doing my eyebrows truly. I don’t think until that point. That wasn’t that long ago. That was probably in the past few years. My eyebrows are naturally on the fuller side. How they are in my YouTube videos and my photos are my eyebrows.
I don’t even pluck them anymore. I can’t remember the last time I did that. I used to do it a little bit in high school. I have a couple of little patchy areas in the front but I don’t even know how I would style my eyebrows. I’ve tried to use eyebrow pencils. I have no idea how to use them. I used to wax my eyebrows a little bit. I didn’t know what I was doing. I got them professionally waxed once or maybe more than that.Hope for transformation obscures the reality of harm. Click To Tweet
My point is I could have cared less about my eyebrows until somebody pointed them out. I don’t even remember if it was my eyebrows they were pointing out or somebody else’s. Thinking about somebody else’s made me wonder about mine. Every once in a while, I have this moment of thinking, “Do I look socially unacceptable?” That’s scary because then you start to feel like you are the outsider and don’t fit in.
To go back to Jessica DeFino, it’s this term social consequences. I’m trying not to overuse pronouns without being clear on them for people. Jessica also said, “We buy into the beauty myth, the idea that embodying an aesthetic ideal will bring success and happiness for the same reason, we buy into the myth of meritocracy. Hope for transformation obscures the reality of harm.” That’s pretty heavy.
If we constantly think that we can change and do better, we feel like we can protect ourselves from harm, failure, and unhappiness. This might have been a quote from somebody else based on where I took notes on this, “To earn life, time, and money through beauty, you sacrifice your life, time, and money to beauty.” This is huge for me. To use beauty as a way to earn life, time, and money, you sacrifice your life, time, and money. I don’t want to do that.
I don’t do my nails, eyebrows, and hair because it’s time and money. I do the most minimal amount possible. I get my hair trimmed about every nine months or sometimes every year. That’s about all I need. I spend maybe fifteen minutes doing my hair when I go out. Generally, my hair is up in a bun. I was thinking how interesting it is. I moved to a place in my life where I rarely ever wear my hair down.
I don’t like wearing my hair down. This might be a sensory thing tied into neurodivergence. I don’t like the sensation of my hair on my neck and shoulders. It’s so fascinating because I feel like there was a big chunk of time in my life when my hair was mostly worn down, especially in videos. I would rarely ever wear it up because I thought I looked more attractive with my hair down. Now, I could care less.
If someone is judging me on my appearance, that’s not the type of person that I want to focus on in my life because my aim is to connect with people on a deep emotional level, not a surface level or a visual level. That line, though, is time and money. You can see that being a sacrifice but the fact that the word life is used in that quote is alarming to me. I am trying more frequently to take in how fleeting life is and spend my time and energy where I want them to go.
Perhaps TikTok as a lesson for this video is probably not a great use of my time, although I’m also not a big fan of judging how people spend their time. I’m not saying I’m free of judgments but I enjoy most of my time on TikTok until it triggers me. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with these triggers. Maybe these are great opportunities to reflect on what’s important to me, not judge this girl and this trend but reflect on why that hurts and where I can educate. That’s why I made this episode.
Being Neutral & Visible
There’s another line too that ties into what I’ve shared. I don’t remember the context of it but in Jessica’s work, the line was, “It’s convincing others to adopt her oppressive eye of beauty.” This was mostly on the topic of Kim Kardashian and how people like Kim capitalize on convincing others to adopt oppressive ideas of beauty. The thing with these videos is when something becomes a trend and is about comparison, there’s no way around that.
The fact that she compared the front of her body to the side of her body is a side-by-side comparison point-blank. She tried to position it as if it was a neutral thing but the music and the text on the screen weren’t neutral. In general, I don’t think a comparison is neutral. This is something else. I was trying to think through my reaction to it. You put something side by side. It does not mean that it’s a competition. It doesn’t mean that it’s greater or less than but culturally, there’s a general tendency to compare.
We have to be careful about how we present things and their meaning. This is where education comes in. Even though it was uncomfortable for me to comment, I felt compelled to comment on that video because I wanted to stand up for other women who also felt like that was an Ouch and who also didn’t want to feel oppressed by this cultural narrative of how we feel about ourselves versus how other people perceive us and how generally, we are trying to convince other people to perceive us in a favorable way by shaping and manipulating ourselves.
That’s a big statement to make but I feel pretty confident in saying that based on the research by people like Jessica and these examples over and over again. I don’t fully believe that these girls viewed themselves as neutral. I wish they did. I would love to be wrong. I would love for that woman to feel like her side view, despite being “different” from her front view, is equally beautiful. If she believes that, it does not take away from the fact that I was triggered by it, though.
That’s where these things are complicated. It’s another reason why it’s not worth defending ourselves. We can do better by acknowledging when we have heard someone, even if we haven’t intended to. That’s something that I’ve learned through this show, especially doing this on my own and acknowledging that I will stumble. I’m trying to figure this out, talk through a lot of these complex things, and say, “This is hard. There’s a lot working against us.”
The other reason I feel so drawn to Jessica DeFino’s work is another phenomenal statement, “To vanish into beauty is to become visible as a person.” This trend ties into that too. It’s not that girl’s video that I commented on but there were a few others with this comparison between how somebody felt versus what they looked like. One that stands out is a girl talking about how she went to a bar and thought she was pretty. She was sitting at the bar, waiting for a guy to come up and ask for her number.
This secondary comparison view was her side view once again of her slumped over. Her stomach was spilling out over her dress or whatever she was wearing. It was forcing her body into a shape that’s culturally viewed as less attractive and saying, “No man would possibly be attracted to me.” Those exact words are probably not used but that was the gist of the video. What she thought would attract someone was perceived as being unattractive because she didn’t look nearly as good as she felt.To earn that lifetime and money through beauty, you sacrifice your lifetime and money to beauty. Click To Tweet
Thus, to tie into this Jessica DeFino quote, this person was no longer visible. Society talks about certain people feeling invisible because they don’t fit into the beauty standards. Many people feel the need to make themselves look beautiful within the confines of the standard of beauty to fit into that to be visible. I think about this so much with social media. It’s probably why I’ve moved away from it and why podcasting feels much better to me because it’s an audio medium. It’s not about my appearance, even though I’m working on getting all the videos on YouTube.
I put them on YouTube because it’s a way of connecting. I’m not on YouTube anymore to fit into that societal structure. Sometimes I feel like showing up without makeup, wearing my hair in a messy bun, and not adjusting everything to look as perfect as I used to try so hard to do. Showing up as I am that day is almost a rebellious act. It feels vulnerable because I feel open to criticism and people criticizing whatever flaws they might perceive in me as they have off and on throughout my whole career. I would rather put myself in that position than try to become more visible through beauty.
That feels oppressive to me deeply because I spend time on TikTok. This is the danger of me as Whitney using TikTok. As a sensitive person, when I’m there seeing all these videos of girls fitting into the beauty standard, I’m exposed to the beauty standard over and over again and to these girls tapping into the trend of making fun of their flaws, positioning themselves as flaws, saying they are invisible because of what their profile looks like or they are nowhere near as pretty as they think they are.
When you are exposed to that over and over again, it starts to convince us on some level. Perhaps that’s why I wrote that comment because I’m angry and resentful about that. That’s heartbreaking to me truly that human beings spend all of this time, money, and lives trying to be visible but whoever said that we were invisible truly? None of us are. We are all worthy human beings. It almost gets me choked up. I’m feeling the tears come up, and this is a bigger part of my life’s work.
I feel so saddened by a culture or a society that convinces us that we are not visible if we don’t follow the standards put in place by somebody who made them up. It’s this capitalistic mentality. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about capitalism but more and more, I’m like, “What is the purpose of making us feel invisible?” First of all, does it take away our power? Do we feel like we don’t matter that nobody pays attention or cares that nothing we do will be important?
That’s one level. We are more easily manipulated and dominated if we feel invisible. That’s a huge part of the racist ties the more I learn about the history of racism. It’s convincing somebody that they are not as worthy and visible because of the color of their skin. It’s sickening. It’s a way to dominate because people feel threatened by someone looking different than them.
We do the same thing with fatphobia. There are these issues and projections we have put on other people because of their body size. The fact that being larger than somebody else makes you less visible is completely counterintuitive and messed up, “Being a different skin color makes you less visible.” Having different skin colors would make you stand out positively because you look different and stand out. Instead, “Let’s convince people to believe that they are invisible and don’t have as much power.” That’s deeply messed up.
It’s to tell people because with ageism, they are invisible, “You are over a certain age. You don’t matter as much anymore. You have been on this planet longer than me. That’s too bad. I matter more.” It’s something they have zero control over like skin color. Although you could, through some drastic change, manipulate the color of your skin, perhaps, you can’t change your age. You can pretend. All of this could be pretend. You can pretend to a certain extent that you are different than who you are but there’s the drastic measure that any of that would take to be seen.
Maybe the whole point of this is somebody who participates in these types of beauty trends on TikTok. The trend in itself is fitting and is about visibility. At the end of the day, maybe that girl wants to be visible. Maybe her cry for help is like, “See me. Hear me. I’m participating in a trend. You can laugh at my expense but at least if you laugh at my expense, that shows that I matter to you. At least you can relate to me, so you see me.” It’s crazy. How many things in our lives do we do to be seen?
Gender Reveal Parties
Something else I wanted to touch upon before I wrap this up is a completely unrelated thing but I do see some parallels because it’s social media and appearance-related. I was talking with someone about gender reveal parties and how we don’t recall them being around for very long. Off the top of my head, I feel like gender reveal parties are a new thing within the past few years. Do people do them before? I’m ignorant of that. I don’t recall.
This person I was talking about how it seemed to correlate with social media because at least my perceptions of gender reveal parties have developed over social media seeing pictures of parents finding out the gender of their child. I also thought, “How strange is it that this is a relatively new phenomenon, yet we are in a time where it seems like society is embracing nonbinary and learning more about gender issues, having more equality, and accepting people who transitioned from one gender to another or didn’t identify as a gender they are born into?”
It seems like we are learning and making progress towards acceptance, yet it’s still very common for people to do a gender reveal. I don’t feel comfortable with that because you are telling the world before your child is even born what gender they are. Truly, what is the purpose of people knowing in advance whether they are having a boy or a girl? At this moment, it is an opportunity. This is complicated. In the context of the conversation, this person and I were talking about how it seems like another opportunity to celebrate together before a child is born and take photos and videos for social media.
Excuse my ignorance if I’m wrong about this. I spit this relatively big little bubble that landed on my microphone. I had to acknowledge it. It might sound gross but it has never happened to me before. How humbling. I digressed. Is a parent deciding to have a party and have that photographed and videotaped so that they could have more photos on social media? How much of our lives is a performance? This is something I have been talking a lot about. It’s at the expense of another human being. Even though it might sound innocent, there’s an issue not only with your child who may not identify as the gender they are born as or the gender they look like but also with the other people that are perceiving this and witnessing that performance.
When you have a party, some people attend that party. Is it reinforcing the idea that gender is 1 of 2 options? It’s a complicated thing but the more I think about it, we still have so far to go. It’s a boy or a girl. It’s blue or pink. Those are the colors typically used at these parties. We are planting the seeds before the child is even born to perceive that child as being pink or blue, or a boy or a girl. The presents that are given tend to shift once that answer is revealed.
Does that then become more complicated for this child to be organically itself when it’s already being imposed and projected into these adults that are attending these parties and witnessing these performances? Is it making it harder for them to conceptually accept the fact that the child may not identify as that gender? I hear it over and over again. I was talking to a stranger about this and how it’s hard for them to understand nonbinary and pronouns.
Likely, we didn’t talk about transgender but I imagine, based on what they were saying, that it is challenging for them. It’s not that they are against it. It’s just hard. It’s even hard for me. You’ve heard me stumble through as I was talking about Jessica. I don’t know offhand. This person’s name is Jessica. It doesn’t mean that they identify as a woman and use she/her pronouns but here I am assuming and in the habit of saying, “Jessica means her. Jessica means she.”
I am more proactive about that because it’s not my place to project that and convince you. I take my role as a person that has somebody listening to them very seriously because if I keep assigning pronouns to somebody without knowing it, then in a way, I’m encouraging or modeling for you to do the same. What if we both found out that Jessica identifies as they/them or he/him? It could be confusing if you kept hearing me always identifying Jessica as she/her.
I find gender reveal parties interesting from that standpoint but also the performance of it all. All the performance that goes into children is deeply fascinating to me as someone that does not have children. The decisions, nuances, and all of that are a whole other episode. There’s a woman on TikTok. This is one of the bright sides of TikTok that I see. I get exposed to some incredible points of view.
There is a woman who deeply advocates for children’s rights in terms of social media content. Her whole account is exploring the dangers of parents using their kids for views on TikTok and calling out parents who do potentially harmful things, either psychologically harmful or sometimes even physically harmful to their children, because it gets that parent’s attention. It ties into this visibility thing. Are parents using their children to feel more important and visible? At what expense to their kids?
That’s the big lesson here. At what expense do we do things for our visibility, time, money, lives, and other people’s feelings? Ideally, we would consider the impact that we have on others to the best of our ability, which is not easy. I don’t fully know how to do it myself but it’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about. Speaking of thoughts, I would love to hear yours.
Speaking of psychological safety, I am spending more time reminding or telling you for the first time, depending on your reader journey, about my number one favorite place to communicate, which is Beyond Measure. It’s a private community I created to develop a psychologically safe place to connect with each other and introduce you to other people who are interested in the same topics.
It is free to join depending on when you join. It may be free indefinitely. Even the word indefinite isn’t quite right. I’m in a transition gearing up to start charging a small membership due for it because it does cost me time and money to run that community. It is not a project that I want to do for a large profit. I’m trying my best to structure it in a way that is super affordable. It will be free to at least tryout. If you are curious about it, I invite you to come to take a look and see if it feels like a fit for you.
The aim of it is to have these types of deep conversations in real-time. It’s not just me speaking to you but it’s an opportunity for us to speak together at the same time to learn from each other and practice that Oops-Ouch-Educate framework in an ideal setting to connect to other people that have different ideas, thoughts, and feelings on things. Generally, we are in alignment.
It’s a like-minded bunch of people but I’m hoping as Beyond Measure expands, it will welcome more people that have different points of view so that we can truly educate and learn from each other. I invite you there. I would love to have you as part of it to get to know you. That is the ultimate way. Beyond Measure does not have to involve live conversations. It’s a great way to connect.
There’s a messaging section in there that you can use privately with me and other members. There is a forum. It’s like a Facebook group but not on Facebook. That’s there. I would love to hear more about your thoughts. A lot of the members do discuss the episodes. If you want to chat with other people with me not even involved, you are welcome to do that. If Beyond Measure is not of interest to you whatsoever, that’s okay.
I would love to hear from you via email, which is also linked at Wellevatr.com or on social media. I have several social media accounts. I check them pretty regularly. Instagram is a great place to reach me. I mostly use Instagram for the direct message feature and TikTok as well, although their direct message feature is tricky because it doesn’t alert you as well if you have messages, at least not these days. You can reach out to me on TikTok too. I’m on there all the time.
However you choose to reach out, hearing from you is one of the greatest joys for me. Thank you for reading. I will be back again with another episode, this time with a guest. I have an amazing lineup of guests. I strive to bring in people with different perspectives, knowledge, and tons of diversity. That’s of great importance. I’m trying to examine diversity from all different angles, whether that’s age, race, religion, education or parts of the world.
At this moment, I have not had a lot of guests of various body sizes. I’m realizing that. I need to do some more outreach. Maybe it’s because health and wellness are associated with a smaller body or a thinner frame. Maybe people don’t feel welcome. I’m trying to broaden this show so that it’s not stereotypical White wellness. It’s the opposite of what I want this to be. I might need to work a little bit harder to be more inclusive of different elements.
I will aim to do that so I can have more discussions. I would love to have Jessica DeFino on the show. With certain people, I’m like, “I want to wait until the right time.” Maybe I will send her this episode and say, “I would love to hear your thoughts directly from you.” We will see. I will try to make that happen. Until then, thanks again for reading. I will see you soon. I’m wishing you all the very best with your mental journey as you continue reflecting on anything that I’ve explored.
- The Unpublishable
- Belly of the Beast
- Beyond Measure
- Instagram – Whitney Lauritsen
- TikTok – Whit Lauritsen
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