When I was 14, some people from my class called me ugly because (they thought) my face looked like a mini juice carton. No kidding.
When I was 16, some people said that I was too opinionated because (they thought) I voiced my opinion a little too loudly.
When I was 18, some people told me that (they thought) I felt too much.
When I was 19, someone I cared told me that (he thought) I was a boring girl to be with.
To be honest, all of these meant nothing. Except for the fact that I believed them — and I let them sank in my soul. It might even echo once in a while. But now, I am not beautiful — and that’s okay.
You see. I didn’t have the time of my life during high school. I enjoyed (some part of) it — and I wouldn’t trade it for the world; but I wasn’t the most popular, the prettiest, or the smartest. Things don’t come easy for me as those who are lucky enough to win the full package of genetic lottery; or as those who are born with naturally feminine and lovely characters. Disclaimer: I take pride in my appearance and as of right now, my confidence is totally fine.
But our world is not the perfect world. It is definitely not as perfect as Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, where they call all women beautiful. While I think these campaigns are heartening and brilliant in general, the reality is: physical beauty is one of the most important social currencies. Attractive servers tend to get more tips. Attractive people are seen more likable and trustworthy. Beautiful people get more job interviews, promoted more quickly and make more money. These are why the word ‘beautiful’ is overused. And dangerous.
Beauty is already associated with self-worth and pushing people to believe every person is beautiful simply doesn’t work.
If being beautiful means to check all the beauty standards; if being beautiful means to ‘act like a woman’ — to confirm with the world’s standard of being feminine: ladylike laugh, less opinion, more smile, less thoughts, more makeups, less passion, more table manners— then I’d say: forget about being beautiful.
We should teach people — especially women, not to aim for being beautiful. Instead, we need to teach them to be inspiring. We need to teach them to be intelligent. We need to teach them to voice their opinions and nurture their passion. We need to teach them to be adventurous and learn from their mistakes. We need to teach them to be crazily talented and kind, to have a big heart and big dream, to be their own definition of amazing. To be beautiful is only something we will wear today — and not necessarily tomorrow. On the other hand, to be inspiring, talented, interesting and passionate might mean we are too edgy for some people — but that is the only way you can actually make an impact to some other people, and even the world.
That is so much more powerful than being beautiful. So if someone asks me today if I think I am beautiful, my answer would be ‘No’ — and I am perfectly fine with that. Because beauty doesn’t define me. I am my own definition of amazing.