It was a pivotal moment.
I sat still, and the words resonated deep in my soul. “Learn how to be beautiful from the most beautiful women in the world.” It wasn’t meant to be an attack or even convey any negative emotion, but for some reason, I felt vulnerable, offended and devalued. Why do I need to learn how to be beautiful? Am I not already? Why is there a select group of women deemed as the most beautiful? Why are they all celebrities? What do I have to do to receive such a title? Ultimately, am I beautiful?
The media has created such a narrow and inaccurate definition of beautiful. In order to be beautiful, you’re instructed to lose your wrinkles, have a flawless complexion, be skinny but not too skinny, have the perfect smile, don’t be too short, don’t be too tall, wear expensive brands, and basically attempt to attain perfection. What the media doesn’t tell you is that celebrities have blemishes, they aren’t all skinny, and they vary in height, but all of these things are edited out of the content you read and see. What the media is portraying is a completely unattainable ideal for women all over the world.
According to Dove’s research on their Body Positivity Campaign, only 4% of women all around the world consider themselves beautiful.
This statistic is largely affected by media propagations, overly-edited images on social media, and an ideal placed on perfectionism (which actually doesn’t exist). Why are we creating a visual and an ideal that DOESN’T exist? Why are we editing women’s bodies in photos, clearing up their skin, changing their complexion and more? Some areas of the social media world have become a place that fuels anxiety. We feel the need to edit our imperfections away because that’s what is presented as normal. This is simply inexcusable. Women should be celebrated for every curve, texture, color, shape, size, virtue, and value that makes up who they are. We should be allowed to embrace our body whether it looks like the media wants it to or not.
The good news is that brands are noticing this, and they are responding.
Aerie launched their Aerie Real Campaign that has sparked a movement inspiring women to embrace their real, authentic selves. They have committed to releasing content that is UN-RETOUCHED. This means the bodies you see are real, the skin you see is real, and the women you see are REAL. Another company partnering with the same standard is Darling Magazine. All of the models in their magazine issues are 100% real, authentic, and un-retouched. The only editing they do is adjust lighting, temperature and other basic components, but the models are not touched! How inspiring, empowering and encouraging to see popular brands allowing women to be their real, authentic and honest selves?
Why is beauty defined as one thing, and why are there guidelines and requirements that must be met in order to be beautiful?
When I go to an art museum, I see hundreds of pieces that are stunning. When I daydream about countries I want to go to, the diversity in each is astounding. When I listen to music, I admire multiple genres, styles, and sounds. Art is diverse, and there is beauty in that. Art is meant to speak to us. Its purpose is to be admired - to bring inspiration and joy. Why do we treat human beings any different? Each one of us are a unique piece of art. Our shape, size, color, texture, values, standards, passions, dreams and virtues are unlike any other person on the planet. When you encounter someone, do you ever think about the fact that you will never meet someone exactly like them? They are a piece of art walking around carrying experiences, feelings, and beauty deep within their soul.
So, let’s change the standard.
You are beautiful, different, brave, wonderful, and unique. You are a work of art. No one can look like you. No one can sound like you. No one is capable of what you are capable of. No one is you. The media will not devalue us. The media will not set a standard for something that is immeasurable, and the media will not define something that is found inside of us. Beauty is not one thing. Beauty is when you have found the confidence to be the most authentic, real and honest version of yourself. You are beauty.
In my ideal moment, I am surrounded by trees, the sound of a bird’s song and accompanied by a cup of coffee. I believe women should be empowered to live in their most authentic, real and honest form. Last but certainly not least, I am in a committed and life-long relationship with ice cream in all its forms.