Medb Ruane: Carla, Sam, Michelle -- and the politics of style . . .
Every woman comes to realise that, no matter what her other achievements, she may be considered a failure if she is not beautiful. Her inner beauty may be glowing, her spirit unique, but, from childhood, pressure mounts to shine on the outside, and to outshine other girls nearby.
Although fun sometimes, it's a fairly fruitless pursuit because bodies are real, not ideal, and women are human, not divine. Nonetheless the quest for perfection drives girls on and creates downright unhealthy self-criticism, as well as lashings of frivolity if your sense of humour's warm.
Perfectly normal happenings like cellulite are presented as aberrations to be fought and conquered. Often genetically-influenced features such as body shape and scale are wished away by the magic words 'if only', as in 'if only I were taller/smaller/thinner/more toned/younger/older/leggier/ looked like someone else'.