On Being Beautiful

Despite the progress that still needs to be made, we are in the midst of a generally body-positive movement. Society is waking up to the unattainable images we are surrounded by and the unrealistic beauty standards that permeate our media. We are learning to accept, love, and appreciate more types of bodies and physical beauty, and we are condemning those who don’t. We are working to change the idea of beauty and to inspire more people to feel beautiful. It’s a powerful, inspiring message that many, from individuals to entire corporations, are adopting and touting. A great example of this comes from Dove’s entire “Campaign for Real Beauty,” a collection of advertisements and stunts that help expose why societal ideas of beauty are so flawed and to encourage all of us to feel beautiful as ourselves.

We live in a world where anything can be made beautiful by means of a filter, a procedure or even an attitude adjustment. Hidden underneath this glossiness, we continue to emphasize the importance of physical beauty, which is why I think we need to challenge these messages. Beauty is well and good and certainly desirable. But in the entire scheme of things, beauty is not important because beauty accomplishes very little.

Even if the messages are framed differently, I find myself constantly being told that I can be beautiful. Therefore I feel like I should want to be. I know that I don’t have to be beautiful for a man. I know that I can radiate inner beauty. I know that I can beautiful by enhancing myself or not.

What I don’t know is why it matters.

Feeling beautiful is like retail therapy. It’s a fleeting feeling of accomplishment and joy. And if it goes unacknowledged, then it doesn’t exist. So unless a man or a woman or myself or my network tells me I’m beautiful, then I’m not.

Every woman at some point in her life has wanted to feel beautiful, for themselves and for others. I certainly have and I don’t deny this. But these days, I feel more pressure to participate in the idea of beauty because I am led to believe that feeling beautiful is fulfilling in some way. Instead of just being me, I have to be a beautiful me, to love my beautiful self. When I don’t feel beautiful or pretty or even remotely publicly acceptable, I should still feel beautiful because there is a great importance in doing so.

I can say with 100% confidence that men are not told to feel beautiful or constantly told to accept themselves as they are. The attention that women receive around this subject has caused me to question whether or not I am beautiful and often why I don’t or cannot feel beautiful.

I’ve come to realize that beauty is an empty pursuit. I want to feel beautiful and be a part of this movement that is ultimately about self-acceptance. But often the ideas of self-acceptance for women are reduced to the goal of feeling physically beautiful, rather than feeling powerful or accomplished or happy.

Many of us will lead a life of beauty that doesn’t revolve around our physical appearance but rather around the beauty we put out into the world. That’s the only type of beauty that lasts and matters, and the only type that I hope to attain.