It’s the heart of summer, which for women typically means a lot more style, skin exposure, and stress about trying to measure up to the world’s standards of beauty.
I’m sure it varies depending on each person, but it seems to me that women spend an inordinate amount of time trying to look pretty. I’ve already established that the media does a lot to fuel a woman’s desire for external beauty, but even if the media somehow stopped it’s intricate conspiracy to judge every woman’s looks ever, I know some of you who will simply never be satisfied with how you look. One thing is abundantly clear: it’s hard to feel pretty in a world focusing so much on “pretty people.”
What do you do when you just don’t feel pretty?
I feel now is a good time for you to note that I am a guy, and not a particularly attractive one at that. I don’t expect nor want you to take what I say as complete gospel. I just felt the need to blog about it. Also, a long-time fan of my blog suggested it, so there’s that. Still, I have some valuable, objective advice.
You’ve got to stop letting other people set your standards. Who decided what’s pretty? It certainly wasn’t you. Spend some time deciding what you think is pretty, and run with it. Beauty is, after all, just a social construct that changes all the time.
This, I admit, is the hard way to go about things. In order to accomplish an inner sense of confidence, you’re going to have to shield yourself from the constant barrage of “skinny people, sexy people, and stylish people” in popular media. You’re going to have to ignore bad advice from people perceived as authority figures in the field of beautification. You’re going to have to ignore the drive to live for those seldom “oh, you’re so skinny and pretty” comments from people that don’t know you.
You have to decide who you want to be, and run as far as you can with it. Never ignore two simple, cliche, valuable words. Be yourself. You are unique, and that is worth far more than the definitive non-uniqueness of the world’s idea of beauty.
Never confuse beauty and health. For some reason there’s this confusion between health and beauty. If you’re too overweight (or too skinny), this is a big deal and can lead to health issues. It requires lifestyle changes to overcome. There really is a problem with obesity in America, and it’s the main fuel for the nation’s health crisis.
Believe me, I know. I am just now at the point where my weight is “okay.” Read: not good, just “okay.”
But being big doesn’t make you any less beautiful. We need to stop judging beauty based on size right now. We just need to focus on the good in every person.
You’re beautiful whether you like it or not. Period. If you have a functioning heart and brain and you’re reading this, you’re not ugly. If you don’t have a functioning heart and brain and you’re reading this, then you’re a zombie. I guess zombies are pretty too.
There are things about yourself that you can’t really control. Things like your height and your bone structure. Things like the color of your hair or your skin complexion. When you try to alter those things based on the ideas of others, something unique is lost in the process.
It takes time, but the key to being beautiful is to look inside at who you want to be, not outside at what the world wants you to be.
[Thanks to Rosemary Perdue for the suggestion!]
[This post was originally published on April 14, 2014. It’s been revised and republished because, frankly, I’m a better writer now.]