Redefinition of society’s ‘beautiful’ not the fix we need

By Sehar Siddiqui

I’getting pretty sick and tired of hearing that everyone is beautiful.

As a society, we are constantly redefining beauty and increasing the width of the umbrella of categories beauty encompasses. As admirable as this is, we are still placing value on a very shallow, trivial trait.

The more fluid we make the term “beautiful,” the more people that will be considered beautiful. As magazines begin to move away from just showing headlines of “How did she lose all that weight after giving birth?” to “A REAL woman is a beautiful woman” we see a slow shift in the redefinition of beauty. 

Which, in theory, is great — broaden the definition of beauty so everyone is beautiful. But at some point we also have to realize that all we’re doing is making the word more compliant, feeding into our society that’s entrenched in the importance of physical appearance. 

The redefinition of beauty is a copout in itself. Does a majority of society really find all these different types of people to be beautiful?

Probably not.

But it sure is a great way for us to seem progressive and accepting without being that way.

And although I applaud initiatives such as “The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty” to promote curvy — among other characteristics society deems “unbeautiful” — as beautiful, I can’t help but continue to think about the deep importance we all put on outer appearance that essentially shouldn’t matter.

The nation is seething with a self-esteem issue that follows girls into old age. When they’re young they worry if they’re thin or curvy enough, and as they get older they worry if they look youthful enough.

No matter where a woman goes in her life, the stress of physical appearance is lurking.

There are videos on YouTube of girls as young as 10 years old, some even younger, asking the World Wide Web if they are pretty or not.

And in response to these videos people aren’t saying, “Young girls shouldn’t be concerned about looks.” Their response is, “These are prepubescent girls.”

From a very young age, we are feeding the importance of beauty in these little girls’ minds. Television shows on Disney and Nickelodeon star impeccably beautiful teenage girls who end up becoming their role models. 

Instead of discouraging worry of outer appearance, we are merely telling these girls they can’t possibly be worried about this  kind of stuff now — they’re too young. But we are telling them that outer appearance will be relevant later when these young girls hit puberty and grow into the genes they had no control of inheriting.

We are creating an environment where girls are absorbing information that tells them it’s important they grow up to look a certain way — whether it is to diverge from or converge with society’s “beautiful.”

The self-esteem of these little girls plummets while they wait to grow up and then continue to suffer when they don’t meet the physical standards of beauty they grew up looking forward to upholding.

I am guilty of placing importance on beauty and most likely so is everyone else.

To boost the self-esteem of young girls — and boys — we should move toward an attitude that encourages the importance of a strong character over the importance of beauty.

We should focus on helping all members of society feel comfortable about what’s on the inside and not even second guess about what’s on the outside.

Decreasing the importance of beauty is a lofty task to take up. The more we redefine beauty and make it more encompassing, the more people can fit in it. And that just exposes how much beauty means to our society.

Looks shouldn’t be used to define another person; they shouldn’t even be considered while defining oneself, either.

Sehar is a junior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected]