Why We're Afraid to Call Ourselves Beautiful

Everyone wants to be happy with themselves. To be able to simply look in a mirror and feel satisfied with the image that is reflected there. We girls especially are drawn towards perfecting their outward appearance.

But how do we as a society determine what is beautiful and what is not? Why do we deem one person’s butt ‘cute’, and another’s not? How and why is there a set standard of physical beauty?

These are all questions I started asking myself after watching a BuzzFeed video entitled “This Is What People Are Actually Saying When They Talk About Your Body”. The video made some surprisingly substantive points about how society has conditioned us to judge other women as harshly as we judge ourselves, perhaps without even realizing it.

It seems that we have subconsciously been trained to think that being beautiful means being thin, dressing a certain way and acting in a particular manner, to name a few; it means looking just like other women whom society and the media have deemed beautiful. It concerns, in a nutshell, purely physical, outward elements. This false ideal of beauty is coloring how women see themselves, and has been for some time now.

According to a study conducted by the beauty company Dove in 2004, only about 2% of several thousand women surveyed in over 10 countries would consider themselves beautiful. In my mind, this is a tragedy. I believe that there needs to be a balanced response to change this statistic. The solution rests in not telling all women that they are beautiful, no matter their size, color and similar features, but rather making the distinction that all women are beautiful because of who they are- not what they look like. Women are gorgeous because there are uniquely themselves; they are beautiful because of their hopes and dreams, their talents and achievements; they are pretty because they are happy, and there is no one else like them.

Not only is this society-dictated idea of beauty convincing women that they are not beautiful (or at the very least, not as beautiful as they could be) but it has scared many into being afraid to actually find beauty within themselves, physical or otherwise. In the earlier mentioned video, the last statement of the short film is made an African American women who is fixing her hair while looking in the mirror. She says, “I’ve been conditioned to be critical of myself and use self-deprecation as a cover up so people don’t think I’m conceited…but the truth is, I look amazing.” She then smiles at herself in the mirror and walks away. This really struck me. How many times have I had someone pay me a compliment, and in reply I attempt to convince them that I am undeserving of it, and that they are certainly wrong? Sometimes, I even have the mindset that if someone compliments me, then they must have an ulterior motive, or want something from me in return.

Once we as a society can come to terms with the fact that being beautiful has much more to do with what is inside of us then what is on the outside, then maybe we will be more prepared to address the aspects of physical beauty.

True beauty is found in individuality; it is found is a kind heart, a genuine laugh and a smile. True beauty is inside of you.

Here’s the video that inspired this article:

Free access to everything sorority