Growing up I always had a bunch of girl friends who were similar to me in personality but really different from me in appearance. It wasn’t a bad thing of course, I mean everyone is their own person and everyone looks and acts and is different. I guess my problem was that as I got older, I started to notice, I mean really notice, those differences. I started to compare myself to my friends. I started to realize how I was always taller than the people I befriended, I noticed how I was thicker than them, I noticed how I wasn’t as skilled with makeup as them, I noticed how my hair was different than most of theirs and how I seemed to be more prone to breakouts than they were; they could pull off tight dresses and winged eyeliner and fit into clothing that was less than half my size. Those comparisons pretty much caused my self esteem to go down the drain. And then when I got into social media and looked at more magazines, I noticed that a lot of the people that society idolizes looked just like some of my friends: skinny and clear-skinned and good at makeup and by no means does this discount from their beauty because my friends are absolutely the most beautiful people on the planet but it sort of left me feeling isolated.
Throughout this time in my life I spent a lot of time asking myself questions like how come women who are thicker or are not so great at makeup or who do have breakouts aren’t seen as beautiful? Why did society decide that women who do not meet cookie cutter standards are not beautiful? Why aren’t we celebrating individuality and everyone being beautiful in their own way? It was a difficult period of time. I mean, growing up is hard enough as it is but with that sort of negativity always being on my mind things became a lot more complicated every day. I was constantly comparing myself to the people I saw on the internet and the friends I had. I kept wishing that one day something would be different for me; that my self esteem wouldn’t be dependent upon or chained to whatever crazy new thing society was deeming a standard for beauty. Over time, I gained more self confidence. I took a lot of time to myself and distanced myself from the negative messages that I was getting from social media. I took time to realize that the things that make me different from my friends and from the people idolized by society were the things that made me beautiful. I think that’s an important thing for every girl to realize. Society is always going to have an opinion and the media is always going to try to sell you on this idea that if you don’t look or act a certain way then you are not beautiful. But it is important to realize that beauty is more than skin deep. Beauty is inside and outside and just because you are different that does not mean that you are any less beautiful than the girl in the magazine or your best friend.
One thing that has made me really excited for society and the ever changing definition of beauty is the increasing number of models (and women in general) who are working hard to change what society perceives as beautiful. Models such as Iskra Lawrence, Barbara Ferreira, and Diana Veras are using their platforms to redefine beauty and to spread a message of body positivity not only through their actions but through the words that they share on these platforms. The visibility that these women are gaining is spreading the idea that there is not one set definition for beauty and that sometimes the “flaws” that society likes to call you out on are not flaws at all. These women are also spreading the idea that it’s okay to feel like you are different and that sometimes you will feel like you do not meet the beauty standards set up by society but it is important to remember that there is no one set definition for beauty and that you have a right to be confident in your own skin.
And in the words of Christina Aguilera, “You are beautiful no matter what they say.”