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Beauty in the eyes of the beholder

February 19th, 2014

 

A couple of weeks ago, our lovely managing editor for The Carroll News, Ryllie Danylko, wrote a fantastic column called “20 signs you’re a 20 something who’s sick of being told how to be a 20 something.” If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly suggest you go digging through your old issues or browse jcunews.com to find it and give it a read, because it really hit the nail on the head with how our generation is now seemingly obsessed with giving others life advice. I’m finding that these “listicles,” as Ryllie so aptly put it, are becoming increasingly prevalent on social media sites and about nine times out of 10 tell you about something you are doing wrong or others are doing right in the most sarcastic, biting way possible.

 

I, like Ryllie, agree that this whole little “listicles” trend is far from a suitable substitute for actual writing or blogging and needs to go pronto. However, I see a far bigger problem in this trend that Ryllie touched on in her article and I would like to now expand on. I think it’s hilarious when any “20something” thinks they know enough about life to tell other people how to live it. Furthermore, I’ve been seeing an increasing number of articles about what it really means to be beautiful. For example, I’m pretty sure everyone with a Facebook or Twitter has seen the countless articles about how fantastic and beautiful Jennifer Lawrence is and how the way she talks about her body image is doing such great things for young girls everywhere. I do agree that Jennifer Lawrence is beautiful and although I do not know her personally, she seems to have a sparkling personality and is indeed a great role model for girls. However, constantly idolizing her for these body issues is doing just as much damage as idolizing someone like Paris Hilton or any other beautiful actress or model.

 

The problem is that we keep setting this new standard for beauty. In the past, the general guidelines for being considered beautiful was the whole “Barbie” ideal: tall, skinny, luscious locks, perfectly tanned and perfectly madeover. This image of beauty is essentially unachievable for a large percentage of women, and I’m glad to see that it is changing. But, the fact is that we keep trying to tell other women what they must do or say or eat to be beautiful. Whether we are telling each other to starve ourselves or eat an entire pizza in one sitting, it’s wrong to perpetuate this one standard of beauty.

 

There’s another article floating around on social media sites titled, “The Actual Difference Between Women Who Are Hot And Who Are Beautiful.” It discusses how a woman’s beauty shouldn’t be measured by her physical attributes, and it’s more about her heart and mind than it is about her face and body. My favorite thing that they mention in this article is that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” That’s a pretty common saying, and yet so many seem to forget it. The article identifies men as the culprits of this, but it seems to me to be more about the standards us women place on ourselves. There have been countless studies about where the idea of beauty comes from and how it has continued to change in society for many decades. I remember learning about “The Beauty Myth” in one of my classes last year, which is a book by Naomi Wolf that discusses the ever-changing ideal of beauty and how it has been a thorn in women’s sides for countless years. She suggests that this unattainable standard of beauty is an attempt by men to undermine the power of women. She describes how everytime women make a social or political breakthrough, a new standard of beauty surfaces in a sense and breeds doubt and insecurity.

 

This is an interesting idea and perhaps it has been true in some circumstances. However, I think that men have become a common scapegoat when the reality is our society is just obsessed with perfection. No matter who or what the newest idol is, it always boils down to this idea that we can be perfect and beautiful if we do such and such.

 

We really just need to stop telling each other what to do and who to be. I mean, does anyone really truly know what exactly it means to be beautiful or have a perfect life? All anyone really knows how to do is how to be themselves, so no one is in a good position to tell another they’re not beautiful. Enough with all the standards already.