Early on in our lives, we as women are bombarded by social standards of beauty. The media we have constant access to leads us to formulate beauty standards based on what celebrities are wearing and what magazines tell us is “hot” or “not”. As we grow older a greater emphasis is put on individuality, and finding likeminded people who share the same styles and tastes as we do. Still, the media, Hollywood, movies, TC shows and pop culture will always be a part of daily life in the 21st century, forever shaping the way we see ourselves and those around us. For women’s history month, it is important to both look at women throughout history but also to create history with our choices today. It is these choices that will shape the lives of our children and grand children to come. As the world continues to change, beauty standards change with it. Any women, old or young, of any ethnicity can create a beauty standard. We are all unique in our own way and each woman has many aspects that make her beautiful, regardless of the media’s standards we see everyday.
How can we as women create a new standard of beauty for ourselves and others? We can start by seeing the value of being an individual. While magazines and social media outlets can give good input on skincare, contouring, what workouts to use for rock solid abs and so much more, it is important to take written advice with a grain of salt. These articles available to us are a choice. We can choose to follow Cosmo girl’s advice religiously, take the bits and pieces we like specifically, or choose our own path altogether. Finding our own idea of what we think is beautiful can be so empowering. Whether it means becoming a makeup expert and playing around with different looks, or foregoing makeup altogether as a statement of comfortability with ourselves, each and every woman on earth is beautiful in her own way.
The best way to create an idea of beauty is to start being more positive about our bodies! For so many years we have heard how we SHOULD look and what we SHOULD do to look a certain way. Using the word “should” in itself can lead to feeling of negativity towards our self that can create shame and self- criticism. We have to stop giving power over how we feel to media outlets who don’t speak to the individual, but to the beauty conscious world as a whole. What they write is simply a reflection of how they feel, not how you HAVE to feel about yourself. Sure, models at New York Fashion Week have to maintain a certain body proportionality in order to remain in the industry, but it serves a different purpose. It is not the statement of how you have to look as a woman. We as women are all created differently, shaped differently, have different bone structure and are unique in every way.
In order to maintain a positive outlook about our individual beauty, we can start saying nicer things to ourselves. In a “fake it till you make it” kind of way, complimenting yourself can change the way you feel about your insecurities. Insecurity is a normal part of life, but letting your doubts define you is unhealthy and completely unnecessary. You are beautiful! Today, find something unique about yourself and start working towards loving that aspect as beautiful and part of what make you, UNIQUELY you. For instance, if you like that you have long legs, or small feet, or even how your hair smells when you first get out of the shower, say it out loud to yourself! Wake up each day and say something nice to yourself. “I am unique and I love my fair skin!” “I am beautiful and so are my big feet!” or “Today I promise not to be critical of myself or those around me!”
Perhaps most can relate to an experience of meeting someone and not be remotely attracted to them at first. Often when we take the time to get to know someone, we start to notice things we find beautiful about them. It is much easier to criticize ourselves than others. Whether it be noticing their quick wit, how they have good posture, or how they have natural highlights in their hair, there is absolutely without a doubt something beautiful about each person on earth. Feeling of shame and disgust for ourselves are born of societal pressures, not from facts.
The second part of maintaining a new standard of beauty for future women’s history is to spread positivity. This may sound silly at first but after some time, it creates a feeling of authenticity and kindness, a feeling that if spread far and wide may start to change your self criticism as well. Give one compliment a day and it will change your life. Instead of just thinking you love the perfume the lady in front of you in line at the grocery store is wearing, tell her. It may seem pointless or even a little odd but the more you do it, the more appreciation you gain from noticing beautiful things around you. Tell the store clerk her necklace is cute, tell your best friend she should buy those jeans regardless of the size, ask your teacher how she takes care of her skin and ask your neighbor where she bough her handbag. What you say may seem insignificant but it does not matter as much, as what matters most is that you speak something that breathes life, and the positivity will spread from there. If we spend less time looking for flaws and more time looking for beauty, we can change the future of insecurities little girls who hear the words “fat”, “ugly”, and “hopeless” will feel, the same way we felt in our formative years.
Women’s History month exists to acknowledge women who have empowered themselves and others throughout the years. This month is not only about remembering those women, but bringing positivity to the table and empowering the women of today! Learn to accept compliments graciously, and give them plentifully! As women it is our job to stick together and build each other up to our highestlves.