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005 | RE-creating your norm: From beauty standards to racial biases, you have a say

Updated: Jun 28, 2020


Hey friends, how are you? Welcome to Souls Undressed. I am Tori Rankovich + today's topic is changing your norm.

When I originally wrote this episode + this idea had come to mind, I was originally intending on speaking on it as far as shifting your norms involving beauty standards for our bodies, what you see in your feed + what you take in on a daily basis, like I mentioned in last week's episode,

I think that it is also a really important topic right now to talk on given everything that is going on in the world. I think along with talking on the norms of beauty standards, it is also important + beneficial to recognize our racial norms + the ways that everything that we do + think + feel is based around our own independent biases, perspectives, the fundamentals that we were taught early on + raised around + our environment. I decided to move this topic ahead in episode releases + dive into that today.

We will be talking about how we determine what our own norm is + some different ways that we can recognize what we take in on a regular basis. By that I mean, what we're scrolling through on our Instagram feeds, what we are spending our time focusing on, when we are making decisions, what types of things we allow to steer that decision making process, what we spend our dollars on or what we spend our time on within our day-to-day. Before we dive into that, I am going to read you the quote from my vision board for today.

"People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right-hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds." -Carl Rogers

I think that this quote is so important for this episode because I think that we as a human race have normalized the idea of critiquing things + creating our ideal vision + allowing that specific key-hole idea to become our chase, our interests, our ideal, our "it". I love that quote + how it calls attention to learning to see the beauty in things as they are. For me, it draws me to start thinking about if something is truly beautiful to itself or for itself, if the only way I think it is beautiful is when it is perfected to exactly what my mind had critiqued it down to. If we critiqued something beautiful like sunsets or a garden, for all of the imperfect flowers or peddles, or the ways that the clouds aren't symmetrical, or if we wanted to adjust the colors... that would completely change the beauty + magic of the sunset + of the garden. I think there is something really to be said about acknowledging that maybe if we can't see the beauty in things, in all things, maybe it is our lens or our perspective that needs to shift.

I think most of us can look at a sunset + sit in awe of its beauty as it unfolds, like the poem says. Something somewhere has taught us that it is necessary or acceptable or beneficial or that it does something for us to critique things + I think if we could learn to apply that same appreciation + admiration for the magic of the uniqueness of sunsets + sunrises + things like that we could also attach that to people + humans in our lives + situations + events. Each thing has something beautiful to give, something beautiful to teach, even if it looks ugly or it feels ugly, but deep down it is just discomfort. Or it is different than our norm.

Learning to RE-create your norm:

Let's get down to business with changing our norm.

We are + always have been + always will be, naturally influenced by our society, by the societal norms, by the things that are made popular, made comfortable or are made exciting or "in" by the people we admire. What I want to highlight today is that we determine what we take in + consume. When something has influenced us so much so to become our norm + something in us is able to recognize that maybe we have a very narrow-minded norm or maybe we're only looking at one part of the human race and normalizing that part of beauty.

If I can see beauty in other people, but not in me, I need to pinpoint what it is about myself that I don't think is worthy of that title. To me, as someone who has done some work in this area, that lack of appreciation for your own beauty isn't at all in what you look like or what you're serving to the world. it's in your perception. It is so true, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That's why today I'm really excited to dive into my theories of what sets our norms + how to create norms for ourselves or recreate norms. I started doing this a couple of years ago, as far as body image goes + if you have paid attention to magazine models or runway models or swimsuit models in the last couple of years, you will probably recognize what I mean when I say that those "norms" have shifted. The difference, in my opinion, between holding magazines + brands accountable then + now is that someone else was in control then of what was being put out + those magazines were lining stores that you were in or they were lining sidewalks in bigger cities, but now our magazines have turned into Instagram feeds on our phones + in my opinion, it has shifted in a good way, but also in not-so-good way because once upon a time we were holding magazines + brands accountable for representing women of all shapes + sizes + there are still some people and activists that do that, but now, our norm that is already engrained in us as a bias, is what is deciding what is in our feed on Instagram or Pinterest or wherever it is that you're consuming your futuristic goal ideals.

I want us to think about what it is that we are consuming on a regular basis. Obviously I am applying this to norms, but I think that this is important to consider at all times. We have to be responsible consumers + I said that last week, but it is equally as true here for this week + this topic. You are the only human that can decide what you hold validity in. You're the only person who can decide what you think is true or what you think holds value to your life + I think that all too often we allow ourselves to be hands-off with that. If you are not following accounts on Instagram or investing in brands who represent body types of all shapes + sizes, chances are your norm is not to appreciate body types of all shapes + sizes as beautiful because your brain has only seen swimsuits on that certain "ideal" body type. Are you beginning to shift or narrow your brain's interpretation of beauty or desirable or valuable or interesting traits to one body type? I am not making any accusations of any kind, only you can determine what your norm is or what you take in, but this was something that caught my attention within the last couple of years.

That leads me right into talking on the responsibility that we hold or held in one point of time over our magazine creators or our magazine models or the photographers + editing teams that created the covers- the ways that we fought so hard against air brushing + intense editing + photoshopping, but then, we dive right into a norm of Snapchat filters + face tuning. I love a good filter + trust me, I edit my own photos + others' photos enough to understand the benefit of editing out blemishes, but I also, after doing what I've done for so long, can see how volatile that mindset can become to our own interpretations of ourselves + other people. I want you to consider- did we fight so hard to get rid of intense airbrushing + photoshopping + mainstream media, only to adopt it into our own pockets + on our own faces?

I don't want you to think that I'm criticizing you if you edit your photos. I love taking photos on Snapchat with their filters. A girl wants to feel good and smooth, I get it. Girls, I GET IT. I do want us, though, to consider what we are making our norm. Do you take selfies without a filter over them? I am begging you to do that. Just use it as a challenge from this episode. Even if you don't post it, you don't have to show anybody, but maybe you start taking photos after you've gotten up, washed your face or brushed your hair/teeth, or had breakfast, went on a walk, whatever, done something that makes you feel good- take a selfie, just with your regular ol' camera. I had to start doing this for myself because I caught myself being exhausted doing my eyebrows everyday. If you've been around with me, you know, ya girl used to do the eyebrows intensely. Then, I got to the point where I'm like, you know what, screw this. I'm done with makeup.

I think that once we see ourselves looking a certain way, we feel good, we feel sleek, we get compliments + people notice our beauty, it is addicting. I value the hell out of women who get up everyday + do that for themselves. Please in no way take this as me ripping on people who do their makeup. What I am acknowledging is if we create only a norm of one type of beauty, regardless of what type that is, if it is too narrow, are we missing out on appreciating ourselves + the beauty of others around us. That can go toward mainstream beauty standards, that can go toward skin color beauty standards, that can go toward racial biases + those standards, but what people hold as valuable + not valuable. I think that we are products of what we consume. Our brains, + our opinions + our perceptions + our perspectives. We are products of our environment + what we consume.

So, if you catch yourself thinking after this episode, hmmm? Maybe that's what Tori was talking about? I just challenge you to chew on it. Just think about it. Let yourself be the guide, let your thoughts be the guide. I do want to follow this conversation up with ways that I have worked against societal norms.

So, I have already talked a little bit on it, but my Instagram feed. When I developed my boudoir company + I started shooting with women of all sizes, I recognized very quickly how impactful it was on me to be able to help women who didn't match the "swimsuit model beauty standard" of a certain size. Being able to lift them up, was such a gift, it did so much for me. Obviously, these sessions have impacts on the women who are in them + who are participating in them, but I recognized that I hadn't been seeing beautiful bodies of all shapes + sizes until I started taking photos of them. Until these women were like, "Hey, I'm ready to go, let's shoot this session," + they got into my studio + we could be laughing + celebrating them + crying + having a great time + I slowly got to see my boudoir feed become more + more diversified with different body types + women who looked different.. It just made me recognize that until then, I hadn't had a diversified view of beauty because I was only consuming things that were right in front of me or that looked like me. That's fine if you're someone who likes to consume things that match your lifestyle, but I challenge you to consider what you're missing out on by not also including other cultures + other body types + other smiles + different looks + feels + personalities.

I have also made it a point to include businesses + brands who's missions or messages or purposes align with mine or that further support ideals that I believe it. I also have looked at the ways that I only follow certain types of ideas. Maybe I am only consuming things that have to do with fitness or I am only consuming spiritual pages. It is good to also consume things that are just for enjoyment. I've also worked against societal norms with challenging my own beliefs in my faith + my spirituality. I think that by following things completely outside of what you're raised in, you can expand your knowledge, your education. I was able to use Instagram to do that, I was able to follow different pages that different influencers or photographers- just powerful men + women that have different beliefs than I was raised around + was able to educate myself through those things. You can follow different pages that educate on different benefits of CBD + cannabis. You can learn different things about different cultures + vocabularies + terminologies like calling things what they are- instead of calling things what you were raised to call them.

All these different things that you can learn to pull into your feed + into your life + into your day-to-day, maybe it is the food that you consume or the parks that you hang out at. All these different ways that you can pull a wider world view or a wider perspective into your life. I think if you pick what resonates with you + what connects with you, you can see that our norms get narrowed down into things that become "normed" for us. The world is constantly changing, there are so many things that it has to offer us + that people around us to have to offer us. So, I challenge you to challenge yourself to step out of your "box".

I also want to talk about looking into the mission of boudoir photography + if you're a woman and you don't follow my boudoir page, I am going to use this opportunity to talk about it a little bit about it. I think when we think of boudoir, I see a lot of women, again, falling into a normed expectation. I can only do boudoir when I look like this or when I've lost this much weight, or in this kind of lingerie or in this kind of space or I can only do it for my loved one, or my husband, or my wife, or my girlfriend or my boyfriend, whoever. i think that if you follow my boudoir page, or you choose to invest in boudoir for yourself, I challenge you to challenge your own perceived norms for boudoir photography. I encourage you to scroll through my page, look at the different body types. Look at the different props that are used + the different outfits that are worn + women that are in their jeans + women that are in nothing but a sheet + women who are using their hair to cover their breasts. There's just such a variety in the world of beauty that if we don't challenge ourselves to embrace every sunset, or embrace every body, we are going to miss out on the beauty, the true, raw, real beauty + the wholeness. There is beauty in embracing all of something + all of someone + all of yourself.

I want to wrap up these thoughts with this: if you find yourself wishing or wanting or considering whether or not you should change the norm, change what you're taking in everyday, or that it would benefit you or the people around you to be exposed to a more holistic view of what our world is made up of + the kinds of humans who are gracing this planet, I think you're already half way there. Recognizing that you have the power to shift your own norm, is literally most of the battle. That's why I created this episode. If you have the desire to be a more embracing + open-hearted human, do it. Don't wait for the people around you to do it, don't wait for it to become "trendy," don't wait for somebody else to change their norm. Just adjust your own trajectory, accommodate for the changes that you want + march to your own damn beat.

I think that if you consider the people you admire the most, they are people who embrace what they love about themselves, they embrace what they love about other humans, they tell them, they share those thoughts, they share their heart + it is usually not all the same mainstream shit that you hear, right? Usually the people you admire, you admire them because they are saying what they are thinking + they're not just repeating what they're hearing. Challenge yourself to think a couple steps further. Question what you want.

Thank you so much for listening + we will get to it soon with How Can I Help?


Alrighty, how can I help?

I am just going to quickly summarize this episode because this episode is all about helping yourself. The whole thing was about helping you, so, what can you do to help yourself and help others to change our norms?

Consider what you're taking in on a daily basis, if that's Instagram- pay attention to your feed. What are you scrolling through, what are the messages, the "ideals" that those pictures and captions are telling you? Is it stretching your mind or is it only aligning with everything you've ever heard?

I want you think against the grain. If something catches on you + it feels like it doesn't match or align with what you feel, question that. Think on it, don't just accept it because it was what was handed to you. Ya got a brain, I want you to use it.

Consider what you hold value to: what you see as beauty, what you see as most worthy. Consider what we have spent so much time fighting against at a collective. Consider if what you do in your day-to-day supports that or goes against it. Consider what it is that you are focusing on. Are you only taking in what has been normed by society? Are you taking in what feels good + what feels right to you? We have the power to take control of our own thoughts + our own hearts + be appreciative of every shade of every sunset + every formation of every cloud, every line in every persons' body, every look of every persons' skin. We have the ability to determine our norm. So what will you do? How will you shift? How will you take control?

Thank you so so so much for listening in today. I cannot wait to talk more with you about it on our Souls Undressed Podcast Community Facebook Page + in my DMs on Souls Undressed Podcast on Instagram. If you loved this episode or any others that you've heard, make sure you leave a review if you're listening in on Apple Podcast + subscribe or follow so that you catch any surprise episode drops that go unannounced. We will talk soon, I'm sending all my love.

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