‘Body positivity is obviously an important message, however, it may be better for us to be liberated from such a concept; the notion that our identity is centred largely on our physical appearance.’
It’s time we took another glance in the mirror at our current notion of beauty. Perhaps we need another re-evaluation of beauty standards- or, possibly, the anxiety surrounding body image. Maybe at our own judgemental attitudes. We should probably do all of these. Or maybe we should take beauty out of the equation altogether.
There have been many recent body image campaigns such as #losehatenotweight, #effyourbeautystandards and #speakbeautiful. These movements are promoting the healthy body-positive messages society may well need. Despite this, they may also be encouraging society’s focalisation on the importance of beauty. Body positivity is obviously an important message, however, it may be better for us to be liberated from such a concept; the notion that our identity is centred largely on our physical appearance.
“Beauty can be empowering, but so can many other accomplishments”
If we took society’s belief in the importance of beauty out of the equation then body positivity would be a norm. In writing, this task sounds pretty simplistic. However, this judgement of our appearance is an innate way of thinking which is ingrained in our thoughts, hence it will be tough to uproot. Nevertheless, by making beauty an individual’s choice to dabble in, rather than a necessary requirement to navigate the modern day social metropolis, society would be more accepting. It would be like buying a risqué lipstick shade that is by no means everyone’s colour. It should be (and is) an individual’s choice to purchase lipstick as it is not a necessary requirement, but you can still enjoy wearing it!
Beauty has become one of the defining desires of a modern woman (and perhaps men too). But why do we have to be beautiful? The quest for beauty seems almost oppressive. The ability to achieve beauty for enjoyment is our own choice, but we should embrace the idea that it shouldn’t impact us more than necessary, or simply be the key to social acceptance. Rather than being a one-dimensional standard, we need to put less emphasis on beauty and look to other achievements too. Beauty can be empowering, but so can many other accomplishments. Beauty shouldn’t be a requirement or a worry, but a way to achieve personal satisfaction.
The media and other social influences reinforce the current standard of beauty. Even seemingly harmless comments can have adverse effects. Many current body positivity campaigns are promoting body diversity, due to the current danger of society having a blueprint for beauty. We are attempting to create multiple alternatives for this definition of beauty, to encompass all body types and cultures. Yet, with this we are still emphasising the importance of beauty (regardless of the importance of these campaigns). In retrospect, we may be digging a larger hole that future generations may have trouble refilling due to the constant emphasis society has on beauty being important to our daily lives.
This is perhaps even the case with the idea of ‘inner beauty’, as although a positive message, it continues to highlight the importance of beauty. With even just a simple change of word we can promote a healthier perspective, such as our ‘inner strengths’. These are our achievements and our perseverance for future endeavours. Whilst there is nothing wrong with being beautiful and aspiring to beauty, it should be a choice, like deciding to go to university: we can pursue it but equally live satisfactorily without it.
Whilst fashion, makeup and beauty are all enjoyments for many individuals, our success in life shouldn’t be dependent on these. By firstly ridding ourselves of the current narrow minded perception of beauty, we can then move on to liberating ourselves of the societal judgement of beauty altogether. After all, looking in a mirror (probably) isn’t going help you get your degree.
Text by Florrie Reeves, illustration by Montserrat Fernandez.