My beauty not yours. Pretty, gorgeous, stunning, striking, attractive. All synonyms to one connotation; beautiful. Beau-ti-ful; more than just a word. An emotion constantly sought for. A word so powerful it can fulfil a stomach lacking food for days. A term that fuels an insecure soul. What does beautiful mean to you? Does your definition of beauty even matter?
Beauty standards define what it means to be attractive, or at least that’s the theory society has constructed us to believe. The standards act as a criterion every female competes to achieve. The ideas of beauty standards force us to believe that to be attractive we must perfectly adapt to them even if our inner gut, soul, and psyche tell us we don’t.
Beauty standards have and still do evolve overtime. From having insanely tiny feet in the Han dynasty (206 B.C – 220 A.D), the lighter hair during the Italian Renaissance (1400-1700), corsets in the Victorian era promoting an hourglass figure, slim figures in the roaring 20’s, The Marylin Monroe look (1930s-1950s), to the current look dominating today’s definition of beauty; natural makeup, fit body; not too skinny, not too muscular, and most importantly young.
We, as a society highly depend on beauty to be seen, acknowledged, and appreciated. It’s a shame that compliments revolving around beauty take precedence over others when the definition of “beauty” might not even adhere to our own. Individuals on the international stage are constantly fighting for the allure of acknowledgement and “perfect”, altering their own features to fit in the divisive standard.
Although beauty has been lately inclusive, the label remains dominant homogenising beauty into one category. To be skinny, but not too thin. Full lips, but subtle. Makeup, but not too much, and the list goes on. Our brains have been wired to believe that the criteria we are being held against is the right one, yet it’s impossible to perfectly fit in. 15. 9 million plastic surgeries implemented yearly, 126 diets tried throughout a person’s lifetime, millions of dollars spent on clothes and makeup. So many different strategies used to fix something that was never initially broken. Strategies used to fit in the impossible, hasten the change. Strategies that don’t necessarily make us happy.
Women are constantly being spotlighted on the international stage, with so much pressure on us it’s a no brainer we so harshly judge ourselves even if it’s against a criterion we don’t necessarily agree upon. From the early nuances we have been gaslit to believe that the society we belong in is always correct, and we, as individuals are wrong. Whether you enjoy putting on makeup, being extravagant makes you fake. It doesn’t matter how happy food makes you feel, skinny remains a priority. If you admit to being beautiful and confident you are vain and shallow. So many oppositions to what we desire, and what bring us joy.
It is unfortunate that beauty remains in the eye of the beholder. But, at the end of the day, the decision remains yours, your body, your choice. It’s up to you who you allow to hold the most power. Who you allow to dictate your definition of beauty, you, or the community around you? The allure you hold is yours at the end, so is the most significant beholder you? Or, are you comfortable passing on the power to the audience around you?