What is beauty? I have asked this question of myself many times starring in the mirror. Am I beautiful? Or am I really asking if I am enough?
Girls are bombarded with images everyday and to say we get mixed messages is putting it lightly. We grew up with Disney princesses with over sized eyes, under sized waists and perfect skin. We look at magazines and watch television where women are petite, pretty and perfect.
Then on the other side we get the message from our mothers, lyrics in songs and some advertising campaigns that says beauty is on the inside. It does not matter what you look like on the outside. It is our personalities, our inner strength, our intelligence, our heart that matters. So as I stare at myself and notice my flaws, what am I to think?
Our generation seems to be plagued with girls wondering if they are enough. Plastic surgery is at an all time high for teen ages 13-18. Over 60,000 girls will have plastic surgery this year including everything from nose reconstruction to breast enlargements.
Depression, anorexia and bulimia are also running rampant through our generation. Here are some eye opening statistics. According to National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders:
• 47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
• 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.
• 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner
• 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat
It seems that the message that beauty is on the inside is not being heard. We as a generation of girls, soon to be women, need to stop this nonsense and here are some guidelines.
First: The pictures of women in magazine , music videos and television/movies are not real. Not only do they sit in hours of makeup and hair prep, but there is professional lighting, editing and don’t forget the wind machine to blow their hair ever so slightly . It‘s all just fake. No body looks as good in real life as they do on a magazine cover. Period!
Second: The fake images we see everyday is usually to sell us something. Abercrombie & Fitch is one of the worst companies that uses this type of advertising on young adults and has been heavily criticized for it. They try to get us to buy their over priced, made in China clothing by using subtle messages in their ads like this one. It says, if you buy our clothing you too will be on a beach with a super cute guy and be able to have a stupid look on your face. Don’t fall for it!
Third: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This means that not all people think the same thing is beautiful. One person might think that a tall woman with blond hair wearing a ton of make up and high heels is beautiful (very stereo typical) but there are some that don’t find this beautiful. They think a natural woman with no make up, her hair in a pony tail wearing sandals is beautiful. Just because we are bombarded with images of “perfect women” does not mean that is what the public perceives as perfect.
Fourth and most importantly: Beauty is connected to love. If you love something, you think it is beautiful. For instance, I love my big, old, fat dog. She is not pretty and will not be featured in the Pretty Pooch monthly calendar anytime soon, but I think she is beautiful because I love her.
This holds true with people too. If someone loves you, they think you are beautiful just like the people you love are beautiful to you. This beauty has nothing to do with what you look like or what clothes you wear, it has to do with the love that is shared.
Fifth: So do not look in the mirror with a critical stare.
Your mother is right.
You are beautiful!