"We often go chasing after ideals instead of accepting life in all of its diversity"
When I think of the word beauty, I picture a slim, tall, light eyed, longhaired Caucasian woman. My definition of beauty is a real-life Barbie doll. My definition of beauty is distorted.
When 97% of women look in the mirror they experience an “I hate my body" moment. Their definition of beauty is distorted.
Society promotes the concept that the perfect body is the key to being happy in life.
So what does this perfect body look like?
In Western culture, the culture I grew up in, the dominant standard of beauty is contradictory. It tells women to be thin, curvy, muscular and delicate (all at the same time). The funny thing is that out of the 158.3 million women living in the United States, only 5% naturally have the body type portrayed as the ideal.
So why do we set these unreachable standards?
Maybe it is because we perpetuate this image through media and culture. The Barbie doll that most Western girls grow up with is an impossibly unreal person.
Research shows that if Barbie were real, her 6-inch ankles would force her to walk on all fours and her six-inch thinner neck would prevent her from lifting her head. Barbie in real life is not what anyone would consider beautiful.
So then who is?
In other countries and cultures beauty is perceived in a very different way.
The Kayan tribe (between Burma and Thailand) considers beauty to be “long necks”. Beauty is measured according to the number of brass rings around their neck.
In India, henna, long hair, fair skin and colored saris is considered beauty.
In Mauritania beautiful women are those with big curves. A “heavy” lady is more likely to get married.
In the Middle East beauty is not what one sees but what one does not see. Beauty is not based on what one looks like but how they present themselves and act.
Some of these ideas of beauty may seem strange and even unattractive to us. But it makes one thing clear that beauty is dictated by the places we come from, the cultures we assimilate to and the traditions we follow.
So what is beauty?
Beauty is diversity. Beauty is an individual and extremely subjective perception.
Beauty comes in all different shapes and sizes- there is no such thing as a good body or a bad body.
There will always be someone who is shorter, taller, thinner, heavier, younger, older, flatter, and rounder.
But there will never be you.
So embrace body diversity. It’s what makes us beautiful.
If you ever feel like you are finding it challenging to accept your body or anything else, call Teen Link at (866) 833-6546. You can call any day from 6-10pm to talk to another teen anonymously about what is going on.