What is beauty? The dictionary defines it as; a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. If this is the true definition, who determines it? Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder or are we all subject to society’s beauty standards?
Age, gender, size, color, class, race, hair, portions and even sexual partiality; are all things that society bases its beauty standards on. These standards have hung over the heads of many people for years. While society’s beauty standards apply to both men and women, many times it is women who find themselves under the microscope most. This is because women are more concerned about beauty than men are in most cases.
At an early age, girls are programmed to be poised and pretty. We are presented with dolls that are supposed to be a reflection of our image (present and future). During child’s play, girls tend to dress up to be pretty more than to represent a desired career. Most girls anticipate the day when wearing lipstick and high heels are acceptable. All because of what they see, hear and think represents beauty.
Now I am not saying that our teaching totally is wrong or that girls shouldn’t want to be poised and pretty but it is one sided. As a girl, when I was teased for being fat, I wasn’t told that I was beautiful, I was told, “your face is pretty and you are smart.” I know girls who were taught that because they had nice bodies and were nicely portioned that was all that mattered. These and other things all play a strong role in somehow validating society’s beauty standards. Instead of tearing down the walls that these beauty standards form, you add to them. Telling our girls things like; losing weight will get the attention of a boy, long hair is more appealing, don’t leave home without makeup, your pretty for a big girl and other bull crap, all build that wall a little higher.
It is a known fact that womanhood doesn’t greet every girl in the same manner and many times it is because of society and the standards that have been placed on them. So many girls make the transition with low self-esteem and lacking self love all because they were made to feel ugly, worthless or less than others. As women, those girls take on a number of negative characteristics like; being promiscuous, mean, angry, insecure, depressed and hard to love. I know this to be true because for a long time, I was one of those girls. I never let it get me to a place of low self esteem or self love but I accepted it. I found comfort and safety in the box labeled “fat girls”, I accepted the fact that I was restricted and dimmed my light.
I wasn’t until I begin to experience the world as a woman that I learned I didn’t have to be constrained or in a box. That is when I begin to see beauty differently. Now I value the diversity that makes all women beautiful. Instead of frowning upon others and their differences, I celebrate them. I teach my daughter that true beauty begins within and radiates outward. I promote confidence in her a make sure she doesn’t conform to society’s beauty standards. I encourage and educate her now so that her evolution into womanhood is smoother than mine. I have adjusted her viewing area so that she can see beauty differently now as opposed to later.
Over the years, I have been blessed to meet and work with many women, women who I connected with and to. All of these women are sisters in womanhood; some are black and some are white; some were plus size, some were standard; some were tall, some were short; some had long hair, some had none; some were lesbians and some were straight; some were Christian and some were Muslim, but they all were beautiful in their own way . Rather they saw their beauty or not I did because; I see beauty differently and It has nothing to do with society’s beauty standards.