The problem with beauty

As humans, we seek beauty, don’t we? The beautiful sunset, a beautiful flower, elegant beauty in movement and composition, words strung together in beautiful ways, beauty in people — I think it’s normal. I think it’s ok to want to seek beauty and feel beautiful. What I think is sad is that we all fall prey to believing that such a narrow range defines beauty that anything outside the boundaries becomes worthy of scrutiny. I wrote this post recently, laying out my confusion about how on one hand, we can support our friends so fiercely, but talk so negatively about other women. It’s not exclusively women doing this, but it’s particularly evident during awards shows that women take immense pleasure in tearing other women down.

And it’s not just other women we criticize. We do it to ourselves. I’m ugly, I’m fat, I’m out of shape and lazy. My hair is too this, my skin is too that. My this isn’t that way. My that isn’t this way. We point fingers at the beauty industry for making us feel this way, when we have the power to make the decisions on our own, don’t we? Don’t we have the free will to decide that we are perfect just as we are?

The message that “real is beautiful” or that “nobody is perfect” is flawed, too. The statements themselves are rooted in the idea that some kind of unattainable perfection exists, or that it’s a compromise to embrace being “real”. I heard on the news (isn’t it sad this is newsworthy?) that photos of Beyonce (for a L’Oreal ad) were released unedited, and recently, Cindy Crawford was making headlines for her untouched photo releases — these women who are seen as pillars of beauty are being simultaneously insulted for their “imperfections” and lauded as heroes of “realness”. Where is the middle ground?

We are all real.

We are all perfect.

We don’t have imperfections we need to learn to “accept”, because by nature we are just as we are meant to be, and that is perfection.

you are beautiful

My friend Jeff sent me this article from Mashable today, which talks about Dove’s plans to tweet positive messages during the Oscars to combat the “four out of every five negative tweets posted on the site about beauty and body image” (which are by women putting themselves down). Isn’t that crazy? Why are we doing this to ourselves and others? I’ll be watching their stream, and amplifying positive messages to drown out the critical ones, for sure.

Last year I wrote a post about what I see when I look at different people. I want everyone to see those positive things. Why can’t we just reinforce the good? We post photos of “makeup free” faces like it’s some kind of brave feat (while still making sure we diffuse the light and use a filter, and fill in our brows and maybe line our eyes just a little). You know what?

It’s just ridiculous, and it’s time we stop.

I love wearing makeup, and I’m ok with you seeing what I look like without it, too.

Makeup doesn't make a person beautiful

I love colouring my hair, but I’m fine with the greys, too. I love the progress I’m making with my fitness regime (fit by 40!), but I’m ok with you seeing me in my bathing suit.

I want to feel beautiful, and I want you to feel beautiful, too. I want you to feel loved, and intelligent, and entertaining, and whatever else you want to feel, but beauty doesn’t have to come last or be ignored. It should be embraced for its natural existence. Just the fact that we’re all here is beautiful.

You’re beautiful. Don’t let anyone tell you any differently, or make you feel bad for believing it.

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6 thoughts on “The problem with beauty

  1. You are beautiful and have a beautiful way of expressing yourself. I’ve always admired that about you.

  2. I’ve talked to some people who simply don’t buy into the idea that beauty is something we should all desire or strive for. Some people may be beautiful or want to be beautiful, whereas other people may prefer to be known for or prefer to strive for other attributes.

    In particular, the Oscars should be about people’s abilities and achievements, not their looks. If I’m tweeting, I hope not to send positive or negative messages about what someone looks like, but rather to focus on the achievements that got them on that stage.

    1. And that’s fine. I believe people should be allowed to feel however they want to feel. I just think this whole backlash against beauty is silly, too. We’re allowed to want to feel beautiful, just as we’re allowed to feel anything else.

      I won’t be watching the Oscars, so I’ll have nothing to say about them, I’m sure.

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