“It’s true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
Margaret Hungerford, an author and woman was the first person to utter the words we know so well today.
I always thought this statement to be true, that beauty could be defined by the eyes that saw it. But in this new era of Snapchat, Instagram filters, and Photoshop I believe we have been taught how to behold beauty.
Beauty is unique and it is universal. Most of us would agree with this statement. The current narrative and portrait of beauty in media says differently though. We see a common thread and definition of beauty in the models and celebrities portrayed on the front covers. Big smoky eyes, clear flawless complexions, tiny waists, full bosoms and backsides. It is not diversity being celebrated, it is uniformity.
Our bodies are assigned shapes: hourglass, pear, straight, oval, diamond, apple. Our skin and hair types are described by words like; dry, flaky, greasy, blemished, normal, average. We have been taught to measure every part of ourselves by a “one type of beauty for every body” system instead of a “every body is a type of beauty” system.
If you are a woman who has had children, surgery, or struggles with a health condition it seems like there is no lifeline for you. Terms like “mom-bod” and “mom-do” have been coined as though your only allowed to look a certain way after having children. Postpartum bodies are targeted by every type of diet, tummy flattening wraps, and stretch mark removal creams. Scars from surgeries are covered with heavy duty foundations and primers. And if you can’t keep up with the current definition of beauty? You are left behind.
Beauty is so much more than a body shape, skin shade, number on a scale, or hair length or type.
What makes the world such a beautiful place to live is what makes each of us who inhabit it just as beautiful: diversity. If we lived in a world where everyone was the same color, same size, same weight, same height, it would be a world void of beauty. Yet this is often the expectation and message subtly pushed on us by society and the media.
What is we saw our bodies as living stories? What if the dark circles, the unruly hair, the scars- all told stories about our history, present, and future? We can all appreciate historical structures for the history they represent and the memories they house.
In the same way as a building, our bodies are pieces of history and carry memories. We can proudly show all of our renovations, the weight we’ve carried, and the storms we’ve weathered.
Maya Angelou said, “In diversity there is beauty and there is strength”.
What if our strength is beauty? What if we don’t have to change ourselves but the message we are being told? If each women and individual acted as a mirror for another, to reflect back the beauty that was there, there could be a new message and a new standard.
Let’s share the beauty we behold, as we behold it with with each other. Whether it’s another person, piece of clothing, an action or photo. Let’s not be told how to define it. Let’s behold the beauty in ourselves and each other.
– Photo credit: Eduard Militaru