Who cares about beauty? (We’re so much more than that)

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Source: huffingtonpost.com

While discussing women’s education and why it’s significant, a third grade student said, “Girls need to learn, too. It’s not just about our looks. We’re so much more that.”

Smart kid. This is the type of thinking I wish the media would adopt.

From birth, little girls are dressed in frilly pink dresses. The first compliment we hear in life is that we are pretty, cute, precious, sweet, or angelic.

We are taught how to apply makeup, and the media pushes their definitions of “beauty” in our faces throughout our entire lives. As girls, and later as women, we are taught that our beauty comes first.

Photography student Hannah Altman,Β currently attending Point Park University in Pittsburgh, recently did a photo series depicting the dangerous and impossible standards of female beauty. Through photographs of women splattered with glitter to represent blood, tears, and vomit, Altman shows how negatively “beauty” affects women if the fascination with it becomes an obsession.

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Source: huffingtonpost.com

From birth, our outward appearance is obsessed over so much that many of us internalize these values. We must be pretty first, and that is more significant than being smart. Our appearances win dates, not our brains.

The first comments we usually hear from peersΒ relate to our looks.

“You’re pretty!”

“I love your makeup!”

“You have beautiful hair!”

“Your teeth are so white!”

The leading phrase regurgitated during those breakup pep talks our friends give is almost always the well-meaning “You’re a pretty girl. Guys will be lining up for you.”

Our bodies are what most guys notice first, and are the subject of the first comments they whisper in our ears (or send in random Facebook messages).

Compliments are usually meant to bring us up. But when the first things we hear are related to beauty, we are expected to believe that looks are the most significant part of us.

According to the media and society, it’s about WHAT we are, not WHO we are.

If you want to argue that men struggle with this pressure too, I beg to differ.

Most of us don’t ever hear men meet and say things like this to each other:

“Your hair is so hot!”

“Your muscles look great!”

“You’re so tall!”

“I wish I had your chest!”

When men go through breakups, they don’t usually hear from their friends, “You’re a hot guy, bro. Girls are gonna be lining up for you.” More often, they tell each other to just get laid. It comes back to women being beautiful objects.

As we age, we strive to look as if we AREN’T aging. Diets, lotions, makeup, even surgeries, all marketed almost 100% for women to stay “beautiful.”

Why does it matter?

Seriously, think about it. The compliments, the pep talks, the ideas men have about us, the consumption in which we partake for society’s perception of beauty.

Beauty: who cares?

No matter what dresses we are paraded in as kids, no matter how many compliments we are fed, no matter how many pep talks we hear, no matter how many products we purchase, none of that makes us any less empty.

Beauty means nothing when we break it down. Sure, it means trillions of dollars to companies all over the world marketing their narrow idea of “beauty” to female consumers.

But to us?

In terms of substance to our lives, it means nothing.

The idea that we are THINGS could mean eating disorders, depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, and other dangerous obsessions with our bodies.

That’s what obsession with beauty gives us. Impossible standards, unhealthy and neurotic obsessions, and the false belief that our beauty matters.

No amount of foundation will assist me in publishing a novel I haven’t yet written.

No amount of starvation for the perfect weight could erase painful memories.

I would risk seven, 14, 21, even 28 years’ bad luck to smash every mirror I own. To prove to myself that what I see means nothing.

Source: tvtropes.org

Source: tvtropes.org

Who cares what I look like? As long as my clothes are appropriate for the occasion, nothing else should matter.

Yet to this society, it does.

I am what people see. The first compliment out of anyone’s mouth is, while well-meaning, related to looks.

“You are pretty.”

So what?

Beauty doesn’t hire me. Beauty doesn’t erase the last train wreck relationship. Hell, beauty can’t keep a guy faithful to me.

However, my definition of beauty has nothing to do with a human’s physical appearance.

By my definition, beauty is art. Nature. Poetry. Music. Film. Books. Mediums of inspiration.

Physical beauty is shallow, and for many women, only leads to dark journeys from which they don’t always escape alive.

Generation after generation has been devoted to defining what is “beautiful,” and it’s an easy way to rip women apart. Women haven’t been able to decide for themselves what is beautiful; it has been dictated to them.

My reflection in the mirror is not WHAT I am. I am not a what. I am more than what I see. That is not who I am.

Source: nairaland.com

Source: nairaland.com

I am more than my looks. I am so much more than that.

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91 thoughts on “Who cares about beauty? (We’re so much more than that)

  1. While a beautiful person may meet someone’s definition of attractive, it is so much more. To my mind beauty involves a person’s personality, wisdom, and demeanor along with other intangibles.

  2. Growing up my parents never told me I was pretty, they told me I was smart, so naturally now when I get compliments on my appearance it doesn’t make me feel validated like I do feel when I’m told a character compliment πŸ™‚

    And also women need to realize physical beauty will only attract men sexually. Working on our “emotionally beauty” will attract men emotionally. It’s still a novice concept, but it can be life changing for people I think. I recently heard it on youtube from Adam LaDolce.

    • That’s awesome! I’ll have to look up that YouTube video. I completely agree that physical beauty only attracts men who want women for sex. Emotional connection is more meaningful and long term.

      • You’re more than welcome. I thought I would reblog this because your article reminded me of my last article on women’s rights.

        I hardly wore make-up when I was in Secondary school and I still don’t. I only do occasionally, but a lot people do mistake women having make-up on because they think these women are trying to impress someone (which is ridiculous).

        And thank you for posting this, you are a life-saver to modern women everywhere. πŸ™‚

      • Thank you for your kind words. πŸ™‚ I’ll make sure to check out your article on women’s rights. I find this topic so significant.

        I agree that it’s ridiculous some people interpret women wearing make-up as hoping to impress others. Some women wear make-up simply to make themselves feel pretty or because they like the way they look with make-up on.

    • Thank you! I really appreciate it. Yes, I hope there are parents out there who educate their children about how important their character is. I hope children learn early that being pretty will not make them good people, happy, or even successful. I was incredibly proud of the student who said girls are so much more than their looks. She is a wise eight-year-old. πŸ™‚

  3. Ideally, I think you are on track. Realistically, I think we have a long way to go with many years of generational baggage to shed. When I look at the avatars above, I see mostly pretty, I don’t see personal character. I get that from reading further than the initial presentation and comments. And there is plenty of character there.

    • I agree that we have a long way to go. It’s engrained in us as humans to judge first on outward appearances. My dream is for society to one day have more balance on the importance of personality and character as well. Our society is so heavily focused on physical beauty, and a particular brand of what is viewed as “beautiful.” If we can move towards acceptance of more forms of beauty as well as the significance of character, I think humanity would be on the right track.

  4. I love how you’ve presented the topic here. Very clear and straight forward.
    I am divorced now, but I remember on my wedding day, when everyone was giving a toast to us, and my brand new husband gave his: “To innerdragon, because she is beautiful,” or something like that. I felt my every hackle raise. I finally mentioned it to him some time later, and he said that wasn’t at all what he’d meant to say — he meant to say something about me as a person, but got nervous and that’s all that came out.
    It kind of goes with what you’ve presented, though. It’s so ingrained into both genders.

    • Thank you, I’m glad you appreciated it. That’s so true how ingrained in both genders the idea of beauty is. Even if we don’t mean to, it’s the first thing we notice or comment on in most cases.

  5. Well said! I totally agree. We pay way too much attention on looks. It seems a little less in some other countries I’ve been to. I got it all the time when I was growing up, ‘you have such a pretty face’ (meaning I was too fat). I wish people would pay more attention to other things than looks (and that goes for more than the phsical body- it includes things like cars, houses, clothes, jewelry- all OUTSIDE things instead of what a person is really all about)

    • Thank you! I can’t wait to see more countries and learn their cultures’ views on beauty. I do think the obsession is stronger in America than other countries.

      I wish people would focus on other things, too. You’re right that there is so much focus on STUFF. All that stuff and physical beauty doesn’t make us feel happier or fuller in our lives. We should be paying more attention to personality and character.

      • Yes, I agree. I used to get so mad at people when they would look down on me for my clothes or my weight. Now, it’s more depressing than angering. I really don’t pay as much attention to what other people think any more. I guess that’s one advantage of getting older.

      • That’s good you don’t pay as much attention to it anymore. I hope that as we age, our looks become less important. It’s sad how much people base their opinions on someone off of looks.

      • I probably still pay way too much attention to what other people think.
        I agree, it is sad that people are so shallow, that they are so influenced by things like looks and possessions.
        That movie Shallow Hal was a good one for that (I think that was the name of it-Gywennith Paltrow? was in it).

      • Oh man, I never saw that! I always wanted to just because it looked very interesting. Yes, that was with Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie.

        I still do care what some people think, but it’s the important people in my life like friends and family whose opinions matter to me now. I try not to pay attention to what everyone else thinks, but sometimes that can be difficult. It’s very sad how focused many people are on the material things in life.

      • It was a decent movie, made the point that so many people are so superficial. Yeah, I care what some people think too, more than I should probably.

      • It can be difficult not to care what people I think, maybe because we’re taught by society and those around us growing up that we’re supposed to care.

  6. Reblogged this on Capt Jills Journeys and commented:
    Excellent post! I totally agree, we pay way too much attention to what someone looks like. The appearance they present to the world. We ought to pay more attention to who that person really is, I’m sure we would see something different that we expect much of the time.

    • Thank you for the reblog. πŸ™‚ I agree that we should pay attention to WHO the person is, not WHAT the person looks like. Hopefully we will see positive changes in the future and maybe less emphasis on physical appearance.

  7. Really great post. I’m pretty confident in who I am as a person but like many women struggle with issues about how I look and how I’m being judged by that criterium. Nice use of the Hannah Altman photos,I think those are really extraordinary.

    • Thank you! I loved her photography project. I thought it was a brilliant way to shed light on an important issue.

      That’s good you feel confident in who you are as a person. Some people spend most of their lives striving to be comfortable with who they are.

  8. Very nice post. I agree with what you’re saying. These days, our worth/lives and even beauty as a whole is reduced to physical beauty. But I think we all desire physical beauty because it is after all, however superficial it might sound, something that makes an immediate impression. The challenge is how we not only appreciate physical beauty but also judge one more based on the inner being. And I really like your point about society’s impossible standards. It’s ridiculous to have fixed definitions of ‘beauty’, because to me, beauty is diversity.

    • Thank you! That’s a cool point about saying beauty is diversity. I agree with that. It’s fascinating to read articles about what is considered “beautiful” in countries all over the world. I think beauty can take infinite forms, and in America, the media only shows a narrow view of what it considers beautiful.

      It is true that we strive to be beautiful because we know how significant those first impressions are. Even though we don’t always want to judge others based on looks first, we do. But it’s important for us to pay attention to inner beauty. When we take away our physical appearances, we are left with what is truly important.

      • I think the media’s fixed notions of beauty happens everywhere, it’s something that’s quite scary. It will only make people look at beauty in such shallow terms. I agree that we need to really look on the inside if we ever want to live a more fulfilling life.

      • Very true. It’s scary because it affects how we feel about ourselves and what we value. Many people truly internalize the media’s obsession with beauty and spend their lives trying to be what society believes is beautiful. Then they feel disappointed and empty when they realize that being physically pretty will not make them emotionally fulfilled. We do need more than just physical beauty. There is so much beauty in the world that has nothing to do with outward physical appearances.

  9. This is your best post yet. It’s sad that our society focuses on physical appearance so much- what’s even sadder is that is the way it will always be. Sure, we credit people’s intelligence and intrinsic characteristics, but we will always be quick to judge appearances.

    • Thank you! Yes, it’s very sad, and it’s instinctual for us to judge others based on physical appearance. The media heavily focuses on looks, and big corporations make their money with the notion that being pretty is what matters. If society as a whole believed that looks are secondary to who a person is, many companies probably wouldn’t even exist.

      I’m glad to see that there has been some pushback and some celebrities are beginning to speak out on this issue.

      • For sure. I love when I see celebs out and about without makeup on. Just simple gestures like that show that they are fed up with the pressure to look beautiful and sexy all of the time. I feel like we are very well educated about it but it just makes me sad for those 10 year old girls (and boys) out there who are too young to know how FAKE it all is.

      • That’s true. I also wonder what the long term impact will be of the social media the younger generation has grown up with. We started using it at a time in our lives when we were old enough to understand how looks don’t matter as much as the media wants us to believe, but I wonder how teenagers are psychology affected by social media. With Instagram and the popularity of posting pretty pictures, I have to wonder how that makes younger girls feel while growing up.

      • It makes me sick to my stomach. I have two younger sisters. I don’t want them valuing their self worth by how many “likes” they get on photos and stupid shit like that. I think it will have very, very negative long-term consequences. Social media is great for so many instances (like talking to you for instance, who I never would have met otherwise) but has very negative associations with it as well. I completely agree with your thoughts. They need to educate them at an early age about the danger of social media

      • I have two younger sisters as well. I completely agree that I don’t want them believing that any of the social media “likes” matter. Because they don’t.

        It’s great to connect with other bloggers, and I love that aspect of it. But the younger generation definitely needs to be educated about the importance of character and how selfies or photoshopped pictures won’t make us happy.

  10. Right on girl! I couldn’t agree more. We live in a society obsessed with looks and it’s ridiculous. I’m not going to lie: I love fashion and I’ve got a ridiculous wardrobe full of stuff & more pairs of shoes that anybody with any sense needs, BUT I AM so much more than that. I may be into fashion but I totally don’t care what (other) people look like, I am seduced by brains and a sense of humour. Talk to me about books, art, ideas, feelings, life, etc…… if you want to catch my attention, not about Kim Kardashian’s new hair. If you tell me I’m beautiful I’m going to say thanks and move on – however if you compliment my brain or personality then it’s going to make my day. I can’t stand shallow and superficial, hence why I couldn’t care less about the Kardashian Tribe (I feel bad singling them out now but they totally represent modern shallow celebrities to me) and I really wish people would get a life rather than obsess over looks. When I see all those girls and their half-naked pics all over Instagram, FB or Twitter – I just want to shake them and tell them that it’s not the way to get noticed. There is no self-worth to be gained that way, none whatsoever.

    • I completely agree with all of this! I’m the same way where compliments about my personality and my intelligence or my mind mean so much more than compliments about my looks. I love deep conversations as opposed to shallow subjects. But our society is totally obsessed with looks and the media tries to make us believe that looks are what matters most.

      I hope that the phase of people posting half-naked pictures on social media stops soon. It’s not the way to get positive attention from anyone. Posting those types of pictures won’t make those girls any happier.

  11. “No amount of foundation will assist me in publishing a novel I haven’t yet written.
    No amount of starvation for the perfect weight could erase painful memories.”

    Amen to this.
    Amen.

    Blessings to you, Rebecca,
    Dani

  12. As I read this posting and its replies, I just cannot help but think of all the comments that nudists make regarding beauty, appearance, and the constrictions of clothes. The culture issues certainly affect the fully clothed and the unclothed. Crazy, those cultures that tattoo their bodies. To enhance their “beauty”? Fight the good fight as we raise our/your children. Makeup? Short skirts? Baggy jeans? Piercings? Even pierced ears for earrings: at what age? It’s a battle for parents, to be sure–mine included. Long hair or short? Thanks for the stimulating topic.

  13. Pingback: In honor of International Women’s Day (Why I’m a feminist) | Humyn

  14. Thank you for such an insightful post on this subject.
    Body image, self-confidence – these ideals harm more than most realize. I love hearing the positive side to this topic.
    Again, thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  15. Pingback: Who cares about beauty? (Advertisers make girls feel ugly) | Humyn

  16. Entirely true, bravo! And actually, living without mirrors seems to be a pretty darn good idea (though perhaps it works better if there’s someone to tell you when you have spinach in your teeth).

  17. Really well said. I wish society didn’t focus so much about appearance either. Making us feel unworthy if we are unattractive. I used to think me being pretty was important and did everything to look good because I felt that was who I had to be. I went through many ugly duckling phases and rhey hit hard. I never cared if others were physically attractive as far as partners went. It was their personality and how Ifelt around them that mattered. But for me, I had to be thought of as pretty.Now that I’ve aged, and not to my liking it feels like the end of the world. My looks are gone, so what’s left? I need to find who I really am so I can be happy again. It’s ridiculous that I was so ignorant for so many years. I try to teach my children that they are amazing people because of their personalities and wonderful traits. Thanks for a great article. πŸ™‚

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