An Obsession with Perfection, a Very Problematic Self Image, Big Love for Beauty and Other Things That Led to Wonderflaw
My favorite flaw is my constant need to attain perfection, because it led me here, to the creation of this very platform.
Text by Valerie Dayan
We exist on an ever-turning sphere amid an incomprehensibly colossal galaxy, and for a brief moment in time, I was at my ideal weight.
It didn’t last too long, though. Long enough for me to make overjoyed sartorial purchases but short enough to retire them to the dark side of my wardrobe, I’ve labeled as ’emotional baggage.’ The thing is, I didn’t just gain back the weight through mindless, heavenly eating (yes, if paradise does exist, that is my definite plan for the rest of eternity – lemon meringues, French bread and butter, borekitas and lahmacun, forever). I was 28 when I fell down a staircase, almost broke my back, and had to lie down for nearly a year to agree to undergo surgery.
A whole year was spent lying on my back, and my body had accumulated all this weight. I wasn’t bigger or thicker in this positive, sexy way; nothing was remotely attractive about how I felt. My year-long immobility, similar to that of the infamous Cheshire Cat, made my body unrecognizable. There was no way I could fit into any of the clothes in the promised land section of my wardrobe. Spoiler: To this day, I still can’t.
I felt like my body had betrayed me and my youth back then. It’s ironic how grateful I was for my body when I regained my health post-op and how fervently I hated it simultaneously. I looked in the mirror, and my legs grossed me out. Hello, it’s me, and I hate my body. And even worse, I was mad at myself for being so harsh with my image. This never-ending cycle of lousy talk became too much to deal with.
Right after I had my surgery, I decided that I had to rectify this situation. So I started going to a body massage parlor upon the recommendation of an editor friend, where I was promised a leaner figure through a painful (I can’t emphasize this enough) and vigorous manual massage. The so-called massage was, in fact, pure torture and left horrible bruises on my skin. I did not mind. They were so busy some days that I had to pop in for 7 AM sessions. This was something I had to endure, a punishment perhaps, for the failure that was my body. The woman who managed the Maison de Torture would often confirm that my cellulite and weight were in a not-so-ideal state but that there was “some hope” for me. Three times a week was my schedule, but to her, it wasn’t enough as every time I went in, she would tell me of a celebrity client who came in for double sessions every single day for at least a year (how? how do people have that sort of time??), and “Look! Look at how fit she is now!” I would constantly be subjected to her beautiful, fit, and cellulite-free photos. Session after session, I somehow managed to feel even worse about myself. I lacked the toned thighs, but did I also lack the dedication to turn into my “best” self?
I was invited to a prominent medical aesthetics fair in Monaco a year before that incident. As a journalist, those industry insider events where I can meet world-famous doctors and learn, learn, learn, learn! These are some of the special moments that satiate the beauty nerd side of me. But a wet March morning, when I took a 5 AM flight to interview an acclaimed surgeon, triggered a completely different side. At the end of our brief talk about novelties and different approaches to injectables, he kindly asked permission to analyze my then-unrested features. My lips were asymmetrical and abnormally big compared to my “thin, frail face that will sag, as there’s no refined bone structure in the cheeks.” It wasn’t even noon; I was already at war with my self-image, and these comments charged at my greatest wound, as life mostly does. He reassured me that these little issues could be solved quickly, with simple procedures to be done when I wanted. Here I was, with an injectable carte blanche from a famous specialist, yet the sense of privilege didn’t kick in. I felt personally attacked. Mostly because I loved my asymmetrical lips and thin, oval face and had always thought of my features as parts of me that defined me, but that day, I felt like the industry was forcing me to pick between being Valerie or beautiful. I hadn’t realized it had to be either-or. What is that alleged best version of self, and who decides what it looks like?
As I endured mental and physical comparisons on micro and macro levels, I was also covering beauty at Vogue Turkey. Honestly, and indeed, I LOVED my job; I felt like I had some editorial superpower that enabled me to alter people’s moods’ through sound recommendations. I still think that way and could even go as far as to say it’s my calling. But during the peak of my self-image issues, I knew 100% that I had turned into an imposter: Someone who advocates freedom, inclusivity, and self-love in beauty but has a very, very problematic image of herself.
I honestly didn’t want to feel this way.
That’s when I knew my next move would have to be something that could make me and the people around me feel good without distorting alterations. There wasn’t a way I kept myself out of this equation and merely appeared confident. I still hoped to continue my career as a genuine editor. That’s how I came up with Wonderflaw back in 2018. I wanted to keep creating editorials and give space to so many of my other dreams in beauty. Still, I didn’t want to sacrifice my or anyone else’s spiritual well-being. I longed for a space that didn’t take things too seriously all the time – but more than enough when it came to health, mental, and physical topics. Creating space for free expressions but also honest vital information. A space that welcomes all definitions of beauty and isn’t critical or judgemental. A space that is fun. We embarked on the journey to create this space with a team of incredible people who are very dear friends.
Wonderflaw: An Independent Beauty Playground.
This is the very beginning, or maybe a pitstop, but not the final destination of all the wonderflaw things we hope to create in beauty. It’s a conversation, a process, and an attempt, all encouraged by love. A love for the self, people around us, and the world of beauty. A digital space where you’ll find things, people, and thoughts that have inspired our team, written through an honest and light-hearted lens, appreciating the nature of flaws.
And my favorite flaw is my constant need to attain perfection because it led me here to create this very platform. In the same galactic nothingness where I’ve previously been so cruel to myself, I’ve also created something that made me want to embrace myself compassionately and lovingly. For that, I’m grateful, and for the rest, I’m very, very excited.