Thursday, 23 January 2014

Let's Talk About Beauty & Body Image!

With a show of hands, how many of you have, at least once in your life, wished you could change something about yourself? I mean, purely physically. You look at that girl across the street or in your class or maybe on magazines, and you wish, you wish that you were more like her. Yeah, we've all been there. We may not even need to look at other people. We could look in the mirror and frown at the one or two flaws on our bodies that we wished would just go away. We all have it, an ideal of beauty. But for some reason, none of us think that we fit perfectly into that ideal. Why is that? Why are we so afraid to love ourselves?

Sometimes I wonder, if Photoshop was never invented, if there was no such thing as photo manipulation or airbrushing, would we have a different idea of what beauty looks like? Dating back to the age of Classicism and Romanticism, where beauty probably only required flawless complexion and inhumanely long legs - body fat notwithstanding. And let's go further back to the Elizabethan era, where people with incredibly pale skin and funky hairstyles are considered stunning. But even then people have come up with all this ridiculous ideas of what beauty should consist of, while no actual human looks like these people they portray. And we end up lusting after human beings who don't really exist, lusting after this idea of how human beings are supposed to look like - as opposed to how they actually do. And, chances are, the idea of beauty will keep changing. A very interesting twist I learnt from Scott Westerfeld's tetralogy, "Uglies." It tells a story set in a post-apocalyptic world, where people will go through surgery to be 'beautiful' when they're sixteen. They have this whole methods and rules of what 'beautiful' people look like - and not like the ones they see from our magazines. Imagine that, all those airbrushed people aren't even good enough.
Illustration by Kelly Bastow
But seriously, why are we so afraid to love ourselves? Why are we so scared to deem ourselves worthy of the word 'beautiful'? Do only certain sets of people fit that role? People always say, "Beauty is not about what's on the outside, but what's on the inside." But most of them don't really believe that. I do, I really do. When I was in middle school, our class did a poll - best looking, funniest, etc. - and I filled one in too. I wrote down the name of this one very kind and friendly girl - who was probably average-looking physically - as everyone else wrote down the name of this very petite, skinny girl - who made fun of all the nerds (including me) a lot. Everyone was somehow surprised the nice girl's name made it to the poll. But she truly was the most beautiful girl in class, in my opinion. Because she was kind, she was friendly, she was smart and she definitely respected other people. So if I had to do that poll over and over again, I would write her name every time.

I would level with you, when it comes to admitting that I myself am beautiful, I also could not do it. When people told me I was beautiful, when I first met Firu and he told me all these things, I decided they were lying. No way was I beautiful! I was fat, unkempt, disgusting. Ugh. But having all these people love me definitely helps, I started becoming more confident with myself. So I have a bucktooth sticking out of my mouth when I smile, so my forehead is the size of Borneo, so my eyes disappear when I laugh. But so what? If I just keep trying to give out kindness to others, if I just keep trying to pursue my dreams, if all my flaws can make my loved ones laugh, I would be so happy. Here's what increased my confidence: In the end, I wear what I wear, look the way I look, it's all because of me and not for others. If I can accomplish what I strive for and become the person I wish I could be - not physically, then I am beautiful. Also, this video below is really inspiring. Ten ladies share their stories of beauty and body image and how they struggle through it all. The poem in the end should really help you break through all that self-doubt. I hope by the end of it, you could all finally say: "I have a beautiful body!"

video taken from Soul Pancake

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