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What it takes to be "perfect"

Extract from an English endorsement speech written & performed by Isabella McCarter (year 12) in February 2020.

Everyone in this world has a dream; something they desire, something they hope for, something they really want.

But these dreams will change throughout your life. What you might want now could be different to something you wanted when you were four. As you grow, you learn more about yourself, others, and your surroundings.

Children's dreams are wild, bizarre, and boundless. At that age, their imaginations have no limits. They’re always hoping for superpowers that would let them fly, turn invisible, read minds, or help them save the world. But I mean, who wouldn’t want to? I too had a dream, yet I didn’t want to teleport, nor did I want to have super speed or move things with my mind. I wanted to become a princess.

I didn't care about how popular I was, nor did I care about my body. My only worry at that age was finding my prince charming to make my dream come true.

But I noticed that as I grew up, my dreams shifted from being dreams to becoming needs. At ten, I dreamt of being the fastest runner in my class, at eleven, it was to perform on stage in front of a big audience, and at twelve, it was to win first place on sports day. You see, my dreams used to be very ambiguous. Yet everything changed upon becoming a teenager. It was when I turned thirteen that I began discovering the hidden side of society. The darker side. Instead of dreaming of becoming a princess, I dreamt of having perfect skin. Instead of dreaming of being the fastest runner, I dreamt of having a smaller nose. Instead of dreaming of performing on a big stage, I dreamt of having smaller thighs… and instead of wanting to win first place, I wanted a smaller waist.

I felt like my insecurities were written across my head for the world to see. Not only had I forgotten what it was like to have an ordinary dream, but I felt like everywhere I went, I was getting judged for not looking ‘right.’

The question I was left with was; what happened to becoming a princess?

The thing is, everyone dreams of being perfect. But what does this actually mean? Must you have a small waist? A particular body shape? Maybe it’s your eye colour, hair type or nose size? Truth is: there is no definite answer. One person’s meaning of perfection may be different from another person’s, and that's what makes it so hard to achieve.

As young children, girls are indirectly taught what people think perfection looks like. Barbie dolls display the exact meaning of what it takes to be ‘perfect’; they are a symbol of femininity and pop culture, their flawless face, heavy makeup, and thin body are loved by millions of girls around the world. But to them, Barbies are more than just a plastic doll; they are a friend, a mentor, and a role model.

However, these dolls have led many girls towards eating disorders, body image issues, physical transformations, and lowered confidence. The idea behind Barbie is that she displays an entirely unrealistic body that has proven to make girls who play with her feel

more self-conscious than those who don’t. To get a real picture: If the original Barbie doll were a real woman, she would weigh 54 kg and have a height of 1m 75. She would have a child's size 3 feet (that’s for a baby that is 0-12 months old) and 40cm thighs. Not to mention her 9cm wrists, 40cm waist, and 74cm hips: giving her the waist-hip ratio of 0.56. Her BMI would be 16.24, meaning she would suffer from moderate anorexia. With these measurements, she would have room for half a liver and a few centimetres of intestine at most. Giving ideas of real-life measures; the average American woman weighs 76 kg, not 54kg, has 62cm thighs not 40cm, 17cm wrists not 9cm, an 89cm waist not 40cm, 102cm hips not 74cm and a waist-hip ratio of 0.80 definitely not 0.56.

We question why young girls feel so insecure about their bodies. They’re still young, still free and still kids. But the reality is; by age six, girls may begin to express concerns about their weight or shape. So if girls as young as six already feel strangled by the shadows of society that are cast upon them by ‘beauty standards’ glamorised in every magazine, advertisement- and barbie dolls; then it raises the question and concern of how they will think about themselves in the future.

Truth be told; no one is “perfect.” Not you, not me, not anyone. And that is how it should be. Don't let yourself be defined by the inches of your waist or the number on the scale. Define yourself by the kind of person you are and by what you choose to offer to the world. Know that you are beautiful no matter what they, them, or anyone says.


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