What is beauty?

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.

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10 thoughts on “What is beauty?

  1. I was very similar growing up. Middle school was… a hugely awkward phase. I weighed 71 pounds in the 7th grade and not because I wanted to… i was just that short and that small. I had glasses and then had to get braces and the day the put the braces on I stopped wearing my glasses. Which i am paying for now via much worse vision. And I wanted to fit in SO bad. But sophomore year of high school i just couldn’t be bothered with other people. yeah i wanted to be liked, but i was tired of trying… and funny enough that’s when people I’d been looking up to started wanting to be my friend. I think it took 4 years at women’s college for me to really settle into my confidence and realize that it really doesn’t matter what some else thinks of my style or my hair or my face for that matter… because as long as I do. Then no one else’s opinion really matters.

    I admit I am guilty of photo shopping out blemishes, but for me its like they aren’t there all the time, so I’m not editing me, just making me more consistent. haha. or that’s how I rationalize it… and I don’t care if someone else thinks that’s wrong. haha.

    So I’m definitely with you… everyone is beautiful in their own way. What’s important is finding the inner confidence to make that beauty shine.

  2. I actually modeled for some time so I know how distorted your print image gets from how you actually look…and that video is a great, quick way to get to that point. It is really disturbing. I believe there was an experiment within the last year showing how very subtle differences – moving your eyes half a centimeter closer together, for example – can make you appear more traditionally beautiful. (Beauty defined as symmetry of the face.) And all of the participants reported afterward finding flaws in their appearances that they had previously not been self-conscious about. Disgusting.

    I can’t say I ever have felt the supreme insecurity about my body or my face many girls have. But I would like to think I never contributed to putting anyone down for something out of their control, like their skin’s condition or shape.

    I think loving yourself how you are is the key to success in life. It will help you everywhere from walking up to the bank teller to asking for a promotion. And when you find someone else to confirm that you SHOULD be confident in yourself…well that’s the best feeling in the world. And to end this on a less serious note: Mothers do not count. 😉

    • LOL- I was lucky to find Joe. No matter how terrible I look (even if I’m sick) he always tells me I look good. It’s nice to know he’ll be there not matter what!

      I think because I was always put down, I try very hard to make sure I don’t do it to other people because I know how it feels.

      How old were you when you modeled? Was is during your adolescence or your childhood?

  3. Big hug to you! I can relate with you… we almost have the same story.

    After grade school, I transferred into a private school… I’ve been studying in a public school that’s why I was quite surprised when I transferred. I dunno if it’s just the adolescence stage or something but when I transferred, that’s when I started being conscious of myself. Back in grade school, I don’t pay much attention on popularity. I was a bit popular then because my schoolmates on the public school look up to me because I’ve always been the tidy kid. But during, high school, everything’s changed.

    I didn’t fit in. It’s like everyone will label me ugly. And the worst part is I’m even being teased ALL THE TIME. It came to a point where I’d just cry when I get home because I’m a sensitive person and I just can’t take insults and hatred from others that I didn’t deserve at all. There were some people then who would hate me even though I haven’t done anything to them. They’d leave vandalism on the wash room saying they hated me. I even found that annoying because I can’t hide from that vandal… I’m the only one in school with that name. 😦

    I had friends… lots of friends then (we still talk to each other now) that cheered me up in those times. Then during my third year, I started to learn and fight back.

    So what if I’m not pretty. If you don’t want to see me then don’t look my way so your day wouldn’t be ruined. But even though I started that attitude, there are still people who would really love to ruin your day.

    In college, I was a better person. I guess it’s the new environment… or maybe the more matured persons I encounter. Yes I’m still unpretty, I didn’t changed anything on me at all. I just didn’t care. Love me or hate me, I don’t care. If I would mind those haters, I’d just end up crying everyday…

    Beauty is always being linked to a pretty face… But as we grow older, we learn that beauty is not as shallow as that. Beauty can be found from within. You won’t see beauty in a person if you’ll just stare on that person… you have to know that person well to see the ‘real’ beauty in them.

    I’m still the same me after all these years… just a bit confident and proud of myself. 🙂 That old ‘ugly’ me still managed to gain more friends and respect from other people as well as acceptance to the people I truly care for.

    Christina Aguilera is right when she sang ‘We are beautiful no matter what they say, words can’t bring us down…’ ^^

  4. thankyou for sharing your story and especially that video. it really brings home the point that we are comparing ourselves to something that doesnt exist — even the model doesnt look like that!

    • I was shocked that they’d edit her THAT much. I never thought they’d change the shape of eyes, neck and shoulders! I guess I didn’t know what to expect since I don’t work in fashion, but it was a huge shock!

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