Stories

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

March 31, 2022

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, had to lie down for almost a year to then finally agree to go into surgery.

 

Post-op, woozy yet content, ready to head home.

 

A full 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; there was nothing remotely attractive about the way I felt. My year-long immobility, similar to that of the infamous Cheshire Cat, made my body unrecognizable to me. 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 rather ironic how grateful I was for my body when I had regained my health post-op, and how fervently I hated it at the same time. I looked in the mirror and I was grossed out by my legs. 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 bad-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. Some days they were so busy 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 be subjected to her beautiful, fit, and cellulite-free photos every time. Session after session, I somehow managed to feel even worse about myself. I lacked the toned thighs, but did I also lack the dedication that I needed to turn into my “best” self?

A year before that incident, I was invited to a prominent medical aesthetics fair in Monaco. As a journalist, those industry insider events where I can meet world-famous doctors and learn, learn, learn, learn! 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 quite quickly; simple procedures to be done whenever I’d wanted. Here I was, with an injectable carte blanche from a massively 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, and I hadn’t realized it had to be either-or. What even is that alleged best version of self, and who is to decide 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 truly, I LOVED my job; I felt like I had some sort of editorial superpower that enabled me to alter people’s moods’ through sound recommendations. I still feel that way, and could even go as far as to say that it’s my calling in life. 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 truly 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 on creating editorials, and also give space to so many of my other dreams in beauty, but I didn’t want to sacrifice mine or anyone else’s spiritual wellbeing. I longed for a space that didn’t take things too seriously all the time – but more than enough when it came to topics about health, mental and physical. Creating space for free expressions but also honest vital information. A space that welcomes all definitions of beauty, a space that isn’t critical or judgemental. A space that is fun. Together with a team of incredible people, who also happen to be very dear friends, we embarked on the journey to create this very space.

Wonderflaw: An Independent Beauty Playground.

This is the very beginning, or maybe a pitstop, but not at all the final destination of all the wonderflaw things that we hope to create in beauty. It’s a conversation, a process, and an attempt all encouraged by love. A love for the self, for people around us, and for 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 the creation of 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.