My twelve-year-old-sister recently opened an Instagram account, and my Mum, unbeknownst to her, assigned me the responsibility of ‘paedo-monitor.’ This involved my perusing the account on a regular basis, and raising a code red in the event of any potential grooming.
I am pleased to announce that Kitty’s account has indeed remained unsullied by paedophilic activity. However, I have come across activity that has caused me to vom in my own mouth. It is that prevalent that somebody needs to coin a term for it. I am sure everybody knows what I refer to when I say, selfies-taken-from-a-slightly-irregular-angle-filtered-in-Sutro-with-the-subject-glancing-away-from-the-lens-and-holding-a-hand-up-to-the-face-in-an-effort-to-appear-vulnerable-and-soulful-with-some-super-poetic-song-lyric-caption-like-‘you’re-trying-to-save-me-stop-holding-your-breath-’in-pink-Georgia-Italic-font.
What yanks on my gag reflex even more is the comments underneath such photography. These range from, ‘stunning babes <3,’ to ‘ohmygosh get ugly biatch! ;)’ Naturally, responses from the subject look something like: ‘shut up, you’re way prettier than me!’ and ‘please. I’m so ugly :/ <3’
This saccharine bullshit did get me thinking. Why are we so adamant that ‘everybody is beautiful?’ Why are we so invested in publicly and cloyingly validating physical beauty?
Beauty is a subjective word. It means a lot of things to a lot of people. If we are to consider it in its deeper meaning, yes, almost everybody has personal attributes that are admirable, desirable even.
However, I don’t think that the ‘everybody is beautiful’ trend, as outlined above, refers to anything but superficial beauty. This is sticky, because physical beauty is variable, of course it is. But then again, it is incredibly scientific. Sorry not sorry, but certain superficial characteristics are quantifiable, and pretty much unanimously attractive, physical facial symmetry, for one.
Superficially, some people are not beautiful. We can offset as many inspirational quotes against as many scenic backdrops as we like – ‘everybody is a stunner’ – but actually, it just isn’t true. And we know it. But guess what? It’s okay to admit it.
I have small tits, for example. They aren’t beautiful. I lost sleep over this when I was growing up. Upon confiding in my school friends, I was told it was fine, and that I was, ‘stunning babes.’ Unsurprisingly, this was not helpful. What was helpful was my Mum’s response, which was far kinder in its honesty. ‘You’re never going to look like Jessica Rabbit, so do us a favor, and stop feeling sorry for yourself girl. You have so much more going for you.’
Honesty can be upsetting. Undoubtedly, some readers will be upset by the frankness of this article. But this is the issue: why? Physical beauty is secondary, tertiary, insignificant even, compared with qualities like generosity, empathy, compassion and kindness. Imaginativeness, adventurousness, loyalty, open-mindedness, tolerance, and forgiveness.
Why not invest time in reminding each other that we all have the capacity to be, basically, a good person? Because that we can all be.