Photo 2: http://media3.policymic.com/ZWJkNjBkNzZiYSMvYWxJT05zWDRUb3N1MDlyVXpGUHRwSF93VFEwPS83MngxNTo5NTJ4NjY3LzcxNng1MzAvZmlsdGVyczpxdWFsaXR5KDcwKS9odHRwOi8vczMuYW1hem9uYXdzLmNvbS9wb2xpY3ltaWMtaW1hZ2VzLzA1YWVwem96Z3hyZHZqc2NsNDVncXFsM3E3ZnZoaWZseHFqcmlleGFsdjVwazh3b25wdnk5a2hmeWswNndsNTIuanBn.jpg
Beauty Knows No Age, Race, or Countries!
For centuries, beauty standards have been undeniably media-centric. Such narrow criteria are difficult for anyone to achieve, but can be particularly alienating to women of color. For example, bright complexion, huge blue eyes, and straight nose are part of the beauty standard set by media and it affects both men and women to believe that beauty is based on set criteria. Also, we can commonly see the photos of flawless body and complexion of celebrities on a magazine, and a lot of women are obsessed over getting such fabricated and unattainable image of perfection. Eventually, that leads to low self-esteem and even worse some consider changing some parts of their face and body through surgery.
But is beauty really something that is confined by standard? Just because every little detail about someone's complexion matches that of what media defines beauty as, is that someone more beautiful than any other person in the world? If you answered yes, take a look at these two photos below. Both of the women in each picture are not white, have fair complexion, nor presented in their best selves. They are not dressed in fancy clothes, they are not posing on the runway, and most of all, both photos are taken naturally without perfectly set background or poses. However, as soon as you look at these women, would you call them not beautiful? Would you judge them for some of the flaws that are shown on the face? In most honest responses, the answer would be no. In fact, we would find ourselves not paying that much attention to the details, but the whole image the details create when they are combined. In other words, we feel the atmosphere that comes out from the image and the women, not the single details.
In the first photo, a woman with unwashed powdered face is beaming presumably at a market selling leaves. Her clothing is casual, and she has no makeup on her face. By looking at this woman, we can feel her happiness and her smile seems to give out positive energy. Unless we are a beauty pageant judges, we barely notice anything about her skin color, eyebrow shape, and whether or not she is stylish. What makes this photo/this woman beautiful is the sincerity. There is no pretention and her smile seems genuine. Would she look more beautiful and shinier if her photo was photoshopped to look exactly like those in a cover magazine? Maybe, from media's perspective, but that would take away her own charm, what she has that makes her who she is.
Same can be sensed from the second photo. Unlike the woman in the first photo, the second woman isn't smiling. However, that doesn't make this young lady look less beautiful if not ugly. There seems to be sadness flickering across her face like a shadow, and she is true to her feelings rather than faking a smile. She doesn't have white complexion, she doesn't have colored eyes, and she doesn't seem fit. But that's probably not the first part about this photo that will grasp your eyes and heart. The fact that she presumably is a Native American and how natural her posture and facial expression are what you will get to notice first. Nobody will think, "She is way out of beauty range," but get to appreciate the sincerity and naturalness the photo of this woman has. I'm not trying to say you must think these two ladies in the photos are beautiful. What I'm trying to say is, after looking at these photos at a glance, we rarely notice the flaws of one's complexion and body. Rather, we are unconsciously driven by the whole image and vibe the person effortlessly and inevitably shows, not the perfection of a single body part.
That's why we shouldn't be insecure about the things that make us different. Maybe your nose is a little crooked, maybe you don't have the longest legs, and maybe you have freckles. But it isn't that little intricate things that are important; it is how those little things harmonize and make us who we are and how we look that set us apart from every other random girls on the media that look exactly the same. Beauty is diversity. Everybody is beautiful in their own way, and maybe we don't fit media's beauty criteria, but so what? That doesn't marginalize us and we are still who we are. Beauty is racially and geographically, and even individually, diverse, and trying to align with stereotypically Western standard of beauty has to stop. Furthermore, it's important to emphasize that outer beauty should not be a determining factor of women's worth in the first place. We must continue to advocate for a society where women's intelligence, humor and capacity for empathy are held in higher regard than their appearance. After all, beauty is what comes from within, and it is that energy and vibe that influences how we look on the outside.