Beauty, it isn't what you see when you look at a mirror. It isn't what you don't see when you fancy the celebrity teen on the magazine covers. It isn't what the most famous make-up designers tell you to wear.
Beauty is the sense you feel deep underneath all of you whether you're sitting in your room by yourself or in a crowd full of random people. It's the great inside feeling of pride you have in yourself when you've done good and made everyone proud. It's the feeling you get when your little brother or sister is smiling brightly at you for the help you gave them. It's the feeling you get after your mother or father compares you to the both of them and say, "You're so beautiful."
Beauty isn't meant to be set by how tall or short you are and how skinny or fat you look. It isn't the lipstick or eye-shadow Cosmo Girl tells you what's great on you. It isn't about the best flare jeans or the high-tops that Boys Life tells you looks great on you. It's not even about your own race or your own hair color.
Do you know what beauty is?! Do you know WHERE it is!? It is in YOUR heart! It is in YOUR words! It is in YOUR eyes! It is in YOUR own way!
Don't get me wrong here! I'm not trying to offend anyone in any way. I'm just trying to tell you that beauty is what is on the inside that no one can tell. Beauty is never on the outside where everyone can judge. Beauty is everyone's own thing in their own way! Don't listen to what everyone else tells you. They say wearing 'this' and 'that' is great. But is it worth it? Shouldn't you be the one to think about what's great and what isn't?
It isn't about getting plastic surgery or nose jobs and getting breast implants. It isn't about the latest fashion trend from the most famous fashion designers. It isn't about the purest makeup kits from the most expensive companies. It isn't which cap or beanie looks great on you. It isn't the best skateboard design that looks great with your outfit.
In summary, what I'm really trying to say is, don't waste your money, time, and effort on the magazine's you see at the store. This goes for everyone. Beauty isn't just in girls but in boys too! Think about you, what you have, and what your family's done for you. Look at yourself in the mirror and want to say, "Dang! I look like good!" Don't let other people tell you who you are and who you aren't. YOU are YOU! God made you that way and you shouldn't want to change it! So next time you see that Seventeen magazine, say, "Forget it. I don't need them. I'm my own me and NO ONE can change that."
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," said Margaret Wolfe Hungerford in 1878 in Molly Bawn. But today, it seems that beauty is only about youth, a predefined set of features when it comes to women. Assumptions or stereotypes of who is beautiful can impact women's lives including their incomes, access to resources and interpersonal relationships. We spend billions of dollars on elective plastic surgeries, facelifts, Botox, creams and makeup, sometimes with dangerous consequences.
I grew up in India, where beauty is equated with being fair-skinned and the level of income you get can depends on it. Women use Fair and Lovely cream to bleach their skin so that they transform into the accepted norms of beauty. In addition to the reported inclusion of worrisome ingredients like hydroquinone, steroids and mercury, the lack of its efficacy can lead to other problems. A friend of mine went into a deep depression because Fair and Lovely didn't lead to the results it promised, i.e. a handsome husband.
I now live in the U.S., where youth appears to have the corner on beauty. Hence the willingness to go under the surgeon's knife and use potions that promise the elixir of beauty. Reality television shows like Botched have done little change perceptions or behavior.
But, it's not just older women who face the burden of having to appear beautiful. It begins early. Young women can be teased, bullied and much more for not fitting to the accepted norms. Anorexia and bulimia are frightening disorders beginning in teen years or young adulthood, often caused because we value "thinness" and teach our girls to believe the same.
However, change is happening, but slowly. The film, On Beauty attempts to bring us a different image of beauty. The film follows people to help us see beauty with a different lens. At the same time, we are seeing a new generation of women who are pushing back that "we need to stop convincing girls they're beautiful."
Advertisers are recognizing the need for change and stepping up. For instance, the Dove Soap and Lotions Company is trying to change the conversation uniquely through its advertising and public relations. Although some women think this is creepy.
Change is happening locally in Chicago as well. As an example, The Viola Project is empowering young girls from 10-16 to use their voices, learning through Shakespeare. According to them, "students practice self-defense, create visual art, learn musical instruments, study stage craft, interview professional women, attend live performances, and perform works of their own".
Let us know how you define beauty for yourself. This month, we are talking about body positivism and would like you to weigh in. Add your voice to the conversation: @ChiFndn4Women / #BeautifulMind
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
Follow K. Sujata on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ChiFdn4Women