The green ruffled top and other insecurities

Nicola Adam, Group Editor

Nicola Adam, Group Editor

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The moment is seared into my memory, a scar on my psyche that will probably never quite go away.

I was wearing a green, off the shoulder, ruffled, green top I thought was height of fashion.

But when I entered the party the cool girls laughed.

My humiliation was complete.

This moment and a handful of others played a large part in the insecurities that defined me as a shy child and an insecure teenager –without the dose of streetsmarts I so badly needed.

Perhaps it was part of growing up or perhaps it was a symptom of the indoctrination of women from a very a young age that they simply are not good enough. Whatever it was, it took me a long time to realise I was good enough and even now, like most women, I waver.

And certainly nothing has changed since my childhood.

This week’s headlines included news that a third of girls aged 10 to 15 are unhappy with the way they look – bad as that sounds it is probably even higher.

These days the pressures are from all directions.

The concept of physical perfection is reinforced everywhere – and while shops still try and sell clothes off the back of unrealistic model humans that will remain the case.

Humans are cruel to each other and themselves and the race for some fabled concept of beauty is simply another cruelty on the list.

Because of course happiness is not dictated by the way we look, something that strong women have been at pains to reinforce in the wake of this survey. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder – and that includes ourselves when we look in the mirror.

The good news is that the narrative around what constitutes beauty IS changing and becoming more inclusive, less prescriptive and more about what comes from inside.

But for every plus-sized model and Paralympic champion shouting from the rooftops to inspire young women, there is a blog post or Snapchat making a young girl feel inadequate and humiliated.

And the thing is – the green top wasn’t half bad.