Beauty, Perception and Everything in Between
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
This is an oft-used phrase, in discussions of physical aesthetics and arguments as to what makes one woman beautiful and not another. For many, the ideal of beauty is purely physical and sometimes superficial. What we look like on the outside is often the only judge as to whether a woman is considered attractive. For me, however, traditional and societal norms of beauty are incomplete.
When I decided I was pretty.
It wasn’t until Middle School that I thought I was pretty. One day I just decided that I was. I still had insecurities and compared myself to the other girls that had always been known as pretty. But every once in a while I would get a glimpse of my own beauty. My negative view of the way I looked still outweighed the positive, but this was the beginning of me accepting myself.
I remember asking my best friend, “Am I prettier than so and so?” The answer was often “no.” I knew why she said no because they were the same reasons I said no. I was too dark-skinned, my nose was so wide that you could see my brain (from my granny). I was too skinny like the starving children in Africa (from my peers). My hair was too nappy and I needed a perm (from my mother).
I know that other kids are cruel to one another, but these views were comprehensive of our environment and how we saw ourselves; same for my family.
So while I now understand where the stigmas were coming from, it doesn’t make it any less hurtful for young women going through this right now.
Back when I was growing up, there was no Lupita Nyong’o to show me that my dark skin was beautiful. There was no Alex Wek to show me that girls who looked like me could walk a runway. Thank God for these women now and thank God that societal views of beauty are slowly, but surely, evolving.
I had to figure out on my own that is was up to me to declare what makes me special. I had to discover what my unique gifts to the world are. I had to overcome color-ism (my skin tone) and hair-ism (my coily hair) and feature-ism (my wide nose and big lips).
The purpose of me writing this today is that so many little girls, teenagers and women still feel victimized if what they were born with is not considered beautiful.
Fact. We are all perfectly made in God’s image, and as spirit, soul and truth do you really think how we look matters?
Beauty is simply perception and all you have to do is perceive that you are beautiful and that makes it true. For you to know your beauty is a simple choice. Choose beauty, but not based solely on your physical appearance.
The sum total of a person is not just what your eyes show you. What you hear in an intelligent conversation, the way certain voices have a peculiar lilt, what a person’s scent evokes in you, how close proximity draws up unexplained feelings – these all make up the person. True beauty is not only sight, but in all other feelings and senses as well.
Beauty cannot be confined to just one standard, which is what our modern society seems to demand from us.
For too long we have been shown by the media that a woman must be have long legs, light skin, thin lips, slim body, tiny waist, long flowing hair (insert your own). There is nothing wrong with any of those physical characteristics, however, there isn’t anything wrong with short legs, dark skin, full lips, full-figured bodies or kinky/curly hair either.
Our difference make us beautiful!
It is our differences that make up the constructs of beauty. Cultivating a gentle personality, a fierce intelligence, or an intriguing creativity are beautiful inner qualities. Our inner beauty is what drives humanity forward and makes our world a better place in which to live.
But Carla, don’t you want to be beautiful?
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t want to be beautiful. I’m saying it’s more important to feel and know that you are. Yes, like all women I want to feel pretty, desired and sexy. I’m saying to open your mind to what beauty is and you’ll see that it includes you. I wasn’t called pretty or beautiful when I was growing up. I was called ‘black dog’ or ‘African booty scratcher’. Then when I got older, I was ‘cute to be dark-skinned.’ So even then there were limitations on my ‘cuteness.’
I know the pain and insecurity that stems from not feeling accepted in your own skin. I am now in my 30’s and I still have moments of insecurity and comparisons. This is human nature. However, I always return to telling myself that “I am beautiful. I am brilliant. I am smart. I am creative.”