As a lady who’s never felt terribly comfortable in her own skin until recently, I’ve always wondered what is beauty? How do we decide what is pretty and what is ugly? Why do we assume pretty people are the ones we want to be friends with a know and hang out with, but ugly people are those we should ignore, tease and make fun of?
How did we turn into a society that appreciates beauty more than brains?
We all have our own standards of what we find beautiful, so the world will never agree on things as a whole. And beyond that, different cultures view beauty in different ways. Personally, I’m waiting for the culture that finds tall, pale, red-heads with skin issues pretty. No? You don’t think it’ll happen? Ah, well a girl can dream!
In middle school I was short, REALLY short, wore huge glasses (I picked them) and was just very awkward. I think I was about 4’9 with size 9 feet (no joke). I never felt comfortable, had very few friends and often found myself escaping to the world within books. That was my beauty at that time in my life. My family moved to a new city where I thought I could finally make friends who wouldn’t judge me for my overly awkward appearance. Ha- such a joke. When you move from one small town to another, they’re quite the same. People already have their group of friends and when you roll in on the first day of 7th grade wearing a t-shirt and jeans and they’re not from American Eagle, you’re immediately black-listed from the popular table.
I had friends, thankfully most of them were normal and a few were as awkward as I was. But as they grew out of it, I kinda stayed in that awkward phase. I wasn’t able to figure out who I wanted to be, because I was always hiding behind the facade of my looks.
I’ve been plagued with skin problems since I was 12. My skin’s always been sensitive to the touch and even now the slightest brush against my neck will leave a visible red mark that won’t go away for hours. I used to get teased for it a lot. I started wearing long shirts to cover it up, because I was embarrassed. And then there is my worst enemy. My face. No matter what I did the glaring red marks and bumps would stare me in the face. It didn’t help that my friends were all beautiful and had clear skin. They did nothing to squash my fears and instead helped feed into them, even if they didn’t realize it.
I got new glasses when I was 13. I will never forget the first day back to school with them. Matt, a guy in my home ec. class saw them and immediately said, “you got new glasses. I like them.”
I don’t think he knows how much that meant to me. It made me feel more like a person and less like a shadow lurking in my classes, waiting to be happy.
When I was 14, I got contacts. That was a boost to my confidence. But, by then, I was one of the last people to get contacts in my grade so the novelty had worn off.
I went through high school like a ghost. Pretending to care, pretending not to care. But I always cared. I watched how the popular girls carried themselves. The clothes they wore. They way they talked. I would never be like them.
I finally realized when I was 19 that it didn’t matter. People didn’t like me because I was the same as everyone else, they liked me because I was me. I’d always been me, it just got lost along the way, in the mix of teenage drama, angst and anger.
As I get older, I’m trying to figure out why we put so much emphasis on beauty. I am much happier getting up and getting dressed for myself every day rather than wearing something everyone else will wear. I love to be myself. I wouldn’t want to be April, Tara, Melissa or anyone else from my high school. I have no desire to pretend that I am one of them or have been, or ever will be.
I like to think I’m the pink feather boa in a room of black flats.
But, enough about me. Now that I’ve given you pretty much my entire back story, I have some other stuff I’d like to touch on.
Dove* is a great role model, in my opinion. I love their campaign for what is real beauty. I found this video and found it quite shocking.
The girl is quite pretty. She’s a normal girl, someone you’d likely know. But watching what they do to her and her image is kinda disturbing.
What if we all went through life like that? Erasing what makes us US and replacing it with fake images? Yes, I admit I edit out blemishes in my photos, but that’s because I don’t want to see them. I want to show off my cute lil outfit, not the blemishes on my face.
I guess my point through all of this is to talk about how we need to be ourselves, be happy with who we are, what we wear and what we look like. Everyone is beautiful, even if their beauty doesn’t fit the usual standards we all attempt to achieve. It took me a long time to realize it, but I finally did, and I am really happy about it. It’s easier to wake up in the morning. Easier to get dressed and go to work without worrying what people will think about me. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I am the only one who should matter to me.
I hope you guys can find comfort in knowing I think you’re all beautiful 🙂
*Dove had nothing to do with this post. I wrote it because I wanted to.