What is Beauty and how did you come to define it?
My guess is through glossy magazine covers, curated Instagram images and any other piece of media you’ve ever “consumed”. The ideal of beauty has been pushed upon women and the techniques to achieving it are far from natural: photo-shopped images, airbrushing, Botox, Restylane, laser pulse facials, dermabrasion, cool sculpting, cupping, advanced makeup options such as lip plumpers, eyelash extensions, microblading. The list is endless in the beauty economy that underpins this ideal. Representation in media is the conveyor of it all and it can have a drastic effect on one’s self-image, confidence and the relationship one has with beauty for the rest of one’s life.
Though representation is starting to peek its way through mainstream media in films like Crazy Rich Asians and campaigns like Nordstrom’s ‘True Nord Strong and Free’, the media still mainly portrays desirable leading women as fair skinned and thin, leaving women of colour or other body types to feel inadequate in the eyes of advertising.
These old clichés have real life consequences. They subliminally translate to how women see themselves in the real world. It’s the reason why we see women of colour use face lightening creams in order to fit an unfair ideal that has been perpetually taught to them through media. Or why young women strap themselves into waist trainers that move their ribs and vital organs in order to attain the exaggerated hourglass figures they see all over instagram. These physical alterations are not only damaging but represent how deep the standard of beauty can cut.
Representation of all women and real women needs to be demanded, and we as consumers of advertising and the products they represent can do that. We can support brands like Dove and Aerie who use untouched models of all shapes and colour, and by doing so other brands will realize that diversity is a trend that will never go out of style. But perhaps the biggest change we can make is to start looking away from the media and towards the women around us. It’s time we make our own standards of beauty.
Beauty is one of the most complex concepts and is subjective to every single person so why not define beauty according to YOU? Beautiful can mean your Mother’s delicate sense of style or her abundance of kindness. Your standard of beauty can be your own reflection or it can be the person you strive to be on your own terms, not those that are predetermined for you. After all,
"a flower doesn't compare itself to others, it just blooms."
Be kind to yourself angels and define your own beauty. You’re worth it.
[ *Contributing Editor Credit: Brooke Houghton ]