Our Everly Mag Writing Leaders told us about their definitions of beauty and how beauty plays a role in their life. In their responses, they think critically about who gets to define beautiful, how they can make other people feel beautiful, and about times when they feel beautiful.
This article was written by our writing leader Emily. Get to know our Summer 2018 Leaders here!
As difficult as it is to hear, so much depends on our physical appearance. It’s a constant pressure that weighs down everyone, girls especially, from the minute they’re able to understand what it means to look in a mirror.
We’ve been barraged with baby clothes with questionable messaging and encouraged to focus on dressing up pretty instead of building our creativity with “boy’s toys.” Elementary school-aged girls have come up to the counter at my work, a frozen yogurt shop, talking about calories and diets. As girls enter adolescence, these messages are only amplified by the peer pressure. You learn that you get more tips at your job when you wear a little more makeup, that people will always call you pretty when they call the boy next to you smart or funny, and even that your appearance puts you at risk of getting harassed.
The twentieth and twenty-first centuries have brought in so much progress for women on paper, but we’ve also seen a boom of random “must-have” products that girls now need to feel beautiful, new social media platforms that can seem like they’re quantifying how beautiful you are through likes and followers, and tutorials everywhere that girls need to memorize to keep up with all of this. It seems like there’s always something new you should be doing, so how can we possibly learn to 1. be happy with ourselves and how we look and 2. get people to see past the surface? It’s time for a culture shift.
The next generation of beauty should celebrate fashion, fitness, and makeup as art forms rather than restrictions. Beauty can come in clothes that make you feel good, even if they’re not the most expensive and most trendy pieces that you think everyone is wearing right now. Athleticism should be celebrated for the promotion of not only a healthy, happy life, but for the talented girls that are out there killing the game in their sports. Have fun with your face – if that means glitter and neon everywhere, go for it, and if that means you’re happier all natural, that’s cool too! Moving towards these ideals means supporting your sisters, and stopping the judgement – even if something isn’t your style. No one should feel the need to fit a certain label to be beautiful.
Finally, we need to look past what’s skin deep to find beauty. Someone’s worth can’t be seen in their eyelashes or in her highlights. Reject objectification by complimenting your friends on their accomplishments and their true self. There is so much more to a person than the outside – intelligence, charity, humor, honesty, and humility are just some of the values that make a person great. When you can’t necessarily get those things from an Instagram profile or buy them bottled up at a store, it can be difficult to sense – to create change, accept the challenge to look inward and pay attention to what makes someone special.
Almost unattainable standards for physical appearance are something placed upon everyone from the time you’re in baby onesies to the search for anti-aging methods. Reaching happiness with yourself doesn’t mean perfecting yourself, like a lot of modern influences may suggest – it means accepting yourself for your quirks, your insecurities, and your creativity. Setting a new standard also means accepting the same thing from others without judgement, even if we’ve been conditioned to do so. Beauty doesn’t look a certain way, and looking a certain way will never be the most important thing about you.
What’s the cringiest message on children’s clothes you’ve ever seen? Comment below!
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