Everyone is beautiful.
This phrase, although utilized in most body image campaigns around the world, doesn’t quite convey the positive “love yourself” message originally intended. Beauty, by definition, is “the quality of being physically attractive”, and by saying EVERYONE possesses this quality, it loses it’s value.
I recently came across this hilariously candid article called “Not Everyone Is Beautiful“, and completely agreed with the writer’s thoughts on this topic. Nathan Biberdorf wrote,
“Everyone is not beautiful. Some of us have tumors the size of a second head growing out of our ears. Some of us have skin like the Michelin man. Some of us lose fingers, legs, or eyes in horrific factory accidents. We have warts and blemishes and hair loss and dead teeth and lazy eyes and cleft palates and third nipples and unibrows.” Urban Dictionary‘s description of this phrase is right in line with Biberdorf’s statement: “A very naive, cliche and opinionated phrase, that is overused in modern society. This phrase is only an opinion because everyone has a different idea of beauty and not everyone is going to be considered attractive by everyone”.
If it’s true that beauty is merely an opinion, then why is this word and/or phrase being used as encouragement to help people establish self love and acceptance in the first place? In reality, beauty is one of the least significant parts of being a human. It doesn’t bring us success in our careers or happiness in our relationships. It doesn’t bring us passion, dedication, love, or motivation… and it certainly doesn’t affect our spirituality or inspire us to change the world. So what does beauty REALLY matter??? What does it DO?
Well, it makes people unhappy. It makes people feel inadequate.
Because really, not everyone is “beautiful”.
Society loves to point fingers when it comes to issues like these. Let’s blame low self-esteem on Photoshop, the media, ad campaigns, and runway models, instead of looking at the real cause of our body shame – US.
Glamour Magazine recently conducted a survey to find out how women really feel about their bodies. Among the results, the most shocking was that 64% of the women surveyed said that looking at photos of their peers on social media makes them feel bad about themselves. One of these women, Bethany Everett, 27, said, “with actresses, I know they have a personal chef and trainer and it’s their job to have the bodies they do—I don’t have any real expectations of looking like them.”.
It’s rare, these days, to see photos & images that have not been altered in some way. And we’re not just talking about the stuff you see on television or in magazines anymore… This applies to your children, your friends, your co-workers, and maybe even yourself.
With free photo-editing apps and programs available that claim to help you “put your best face forward”, we are now able to smooth wrinkles & blemishes, add make-up, remove cellulite, change the color of our eyes, slim our waists, and more – all with a swipe of a finger. It’s one thing to erase a pimple or remove red eyes, but now people have the power to completely alter the way they look (at least in the virtual world). Glamour also revealed (in the same survey) that up to 60% of women use photo-editors to crop, filter, and re-touch their photos. SIXTY PERCENT!!! It’s no wonder body image issues are so rampant these days. WE are the ones intensifying the Hollywood photoshop epidemic by setting our own unattainable beauty standards. How are we supposed to distinguish what’s real and what’s not?
To prove my point, here is a selfie I took yesterday while sitting at my desk. I used the popular FaceTune app to smooth my skin, and then layered two different filters over it to produce the finished image on the right. In the original photo, my dark circles, wrinkles and uneven skin tone are very obvious. I look tired, blotchy and pasty. In the image on the right, however, my skin is flawless and glowing, and my eyes, make-up & hair color are further enhanced with richer colors (thanks to the filters).
With this ability to virtually upgrade/perfect our physical appearances, we are only setting ourselves up to feel worse, not better, about our bodies (by the way, does this make anyone else think of that Bruce Willis movie, Surrogates??? Well, minus the whole robot thing…). And for what?!
Beauty has no real power…but guess what.
Biberdorf says, “Let go of ‘beautiful’. Not everyone can be beautiful, just like not everyone can climb Everest or play the saxophone or be a good kisser.”.
Good point… we are all given gifts and talents, whether we’re born with them or develop them over time. The unfortunate thing is that many of us are so preoccupied with appearances, and so afraid of failure & rejection that we never discover what those unique abilities are. “What’s so toxic about all of this,” says Jesse Fox, Ph.D, “is that for many women, weight and body shape are tethered to who they fundamentally are as a person—tied to their success at work, in relationships, everything. Which means, if you feel bad about your body, you feel bad about who you are at the core.”
Loving yourself isn’t just a feeling or a state of mind. It’s not looking in the mirror and thinking “I look good today”. It’s an action. It requires effort. It’s about creating a healthy and happy body & mind. It’s about doing things to better yourself and others. It’s about becoming a person you LIKE, and accomplishing things you’re proud of.
Once people begin to realize that each and every one of us has a purpose (and it’s NOT to “be beautiful”), we can begin to establish our own worth and value. Stop letting your appearance hold you back. If you are unhappy with the body you were given, you have two options – plain and simple:
1. If you can’t improve the things you don’t like, you must accept them as-is. Period. You’re not going to be given a new body, so make the most of what you’ve got. Own it. Love it.
2. If you can improve the things you don’t like, DO IT! And QUIT making excuses to start.
Pick an option, and move on. Let go. This life is yours to live, and no one else is going to live it for you.