Beauty Without Standards

magnoliaI’ve been thinking about traditional beauty standards lately. I’ve been thinking about the physical traits you’d see on the front of a magazine or the looks used to sell. And beauty pageants. I’ve been thinking about the kind of look it takes to win. I’ve been thinking about the standards for men as well…their hair, eyes, nose, cheeks, lips, shoulders, arms, stomach, legs. There’s not just one standard for all of these things, but I’ve been reflecting on the various physical traits that often portray beauty in our society.

After thinking about all these beauty standards for outward appearance quite a bit, I’ve decided to throw them away. To me, all of these standards are no longer considered beautiful because they aren’t considered at all.

If we did this, what would beauty be? What would make a person beautiful? What would they do and say and how would they treat others? Their physical appearance means nothing because it could be anything. So how would they appear? We would have to redefine what it means to be beautiful.

When I think of a beautiful person without considering their physical attributes, I think of someone who is kind and selfless. They are accepting of other perspectives and confident in their own uniqueness. The atmosphere around them is welcoming and warm, and it follows them wherever they go. They know what they want and practice perseverance. They are aware of others’ needs, but also aware of their own need for self-care. You can look into their eyes and feel gratitude and love looking back.

What would happen if we redefined beauty in this way? Maybe women would put on makeup because they enjoy it more like an art and treat it less like a necessity. Maybe she’d put on a pair of badass heels because they’re badass, not because legs should appear longer and leaner. Maybe weight would only be treated as a potential factor in health, but otherwise left alone. Maybe the world we live in, the world I see lately that needs a whole lot more love, would be a little kinder and a little gentler. If beauty standards were gone, allowing us to physically appear any way we do without a second thought, maybe we would focus more on our inner beauty. Maybe we would be surrounded with less competition and more support.

I was listening to a podcast one day, and the guest on the show said something that’s been running through my mind ever since. She said that she very rarely compliments someone on their appearance anymore. And I thought…that’s a bit drastic. Because so many of the compliments I give and hear are focused on appearance. But I thought about it a bit more. And the longer I thought about it, I started to understand why she might stop giving people this type of compliment. The less time she spends thinking about and commenting on someone’s looks, the more time she’s probably considering other aspects of the person. She said that she would take these compliments that often fuel traditional beauty standards and replace them with words that note a person’s character: the beauty within them instead of the beauty on the outside.

It’s probably silly to think about a world without beauty standards because it’s something that’s not going anywhere. But for me, it puts into perspective what beauty really means. It’s not to say that being considered beautiful by today’s standards is a bad thing. I just believe people have so much more to offer. I know that if someone called me beautiful, I would prefer it’d be more because I was bringing extra love into the world and less because I looked physically appealing in that moment. But that’s just me.

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