10/ 03/ 2014

On Beauty

I was watching this fashion video from one of my favorite Youtubers, Beautycrush, and a comment from another user caught my eye:

Hi Sammy, i’ve been feeling really really down for the past while lately and I was getting worried about it as I feel like theres no hope for the future because of some boy that wont like me, and I dont feel comfortable with my body or looks and I just watched this video and I got hope for the future and that maybe just maybe one day I could live my dream like you and have a loving boyfriend and be comfortable in my own skin looking after myself like you, so thank you so much for being alive Sammy! I’m 15 and I just realised theres so much more to life because of you, keep shining like you do xx

Firstly I should point out that it’s amazing that platforms like Youtube have enabled self publishers to create content that people like this young woman can really connect with. It’s just amazing that someone’s videos can have such an impact, even if they’re mostly just about makeup and clothes. And I’m not surprised that it’s Sammi–I personally started watching her videos because I was drawn to her personality and how positive energy just shines through in all of her videos.

Secondly I wanted to highlight this girl’s comment because it raises issues about beauty (and boys) that many of us have struggled with. When something goes wrong related to our love lives, or even with our careers and friendships, we often question our own adequacy. And more often than not, the question goes straight to our looks. Is it because we’re not pretty enough?

It isn’t our fault we think this way. From the day we’re born, society teaches us the importance of beauty through all the aunties and uncles who coo over how cute we are. A natural compliment to give a little girl is to tell her how pretty she looks in her new dress or new shoes. Then, we bombard her with fairy tales about how those pretty dresses are going to help her get a man, that getting that man should be the purpose of her life, and that all her problems will magically disappear once she achieves that purpose.

By the time we grow up, we’ve had a lifetime of bad training that being beautiful earns us favor and joy.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there’s anything bad about loving aesthetics and style, or wanting to be pretty; I mean, come on–I made a whole blog about just that. But there is something very wrong with our inclination to feel that any of this is the key to life.

The truth is, in the world we live in, beauty may open a lot of doors. But beauty isn’t the only way we can get what we want, nor the only reason why we don’t. The hottest women in the world have been rejected. They’ve been cheated on. They’ve felt heartbreak. They are not above or beyond anything that anyone else goes through. So it’s safe to assume that when something doesn’t go your way, looking like Halle Berry or Jennifer Anniston is not going to change a thing.

I would be lying if I said boys won’t ever reject you for girls they think are more beautiful–they will, and it will suck. But boys will reject you for lots of other reasons too, which have nothing at all to do with your looks, and there still won’t be anything you can do about it. AND THAT’S OK! We all go through disappointments, it’s part of life. Surviving disappointment not only makes you a stronger person and better prepared for future setbacks, they make the upside of life all the more sweet. As for relationships, the simple truth is that we are not meant to have successful relationships with every person we like, and that’s why it’s so rare and so special when we DO find a mutual connection.

Until then, it’s important to learn to be strong and to love yourself–and by that I don’t mean some cliche about convincing yourself you look like Beyonce. I mean, never give up your quest to discover all of life’s joys, because they can come from so much more than just boys. When you discover the things that make you truly happy, whether it’s a life partner, a family, a career, or a hobby, you will discover the real meaning of the word beauty.

I will end with this beautiful message from Lupita Nyong’o:

4 responses to “On Beauty”

  1. You’re spot on about one thing in particular: we praise little girls for how they look, while we praise little buys for what they do, and ultimatively we start conflating our physical appearance with our ability to lead successful lives. It’s really so hurtful. True beauty is what’s on the inside! Thanks for this great post 😀 xoxo http://powderandpuff.wordpress.com

  2. rose says:

    Aw that was my comment, lovely article haha xx

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I'm a 30-something multimedia creator from New York. I do videos on Youtube centered on open discussion and co-mentorship. Once a month, I host a Q&A with inspiring people from entrepreneurs to athletes and more on The itsme Podcast. Be warned: I can be opinionated. But it's all love! Please follow and subscribe, it would mean a lot! :)

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