I’ve just realized that I do not know how the word beauty is officially defined. Merriam Webster’s describes it as the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit. This is the first result that displays under the word beauty on their page. So beauty obviously is the qualities that “gives pleasure” to someone else. What I find interesting however, is the attention that this description gives to the mental and spiritual aspect of beauty. As we know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, would it not also be true that beauty is not just a physical concept? Let’s dive deeper.
Society creates standards and people risk life and limb to match those standards, just for them to change again. My question is, why is there no “standard” for the trees, the rocks, the rainbows, or the plants? We as humans, love to marvel at the outdoors, yet they have no standard that they are held to. People flock to places like Walker Canyon in California to experience the rare, super bloom of flowers. Nobody sits there judging the one flower in the middle of the field for not being colorful enough or having misshapen petals. We just enjoy the beauty. Why is it different when it comes to ourselves?
Did you know that “85% of the world’s population are affected by low self esteem”(Thought Provoking)? There is a very real disconnect between a person’s admiration of beauty around them and their appreciation of their own beauty. I attribute this to societal standards. For example, “exposure to the “ideal” body images has been found to lower women’s satisfaction with their own attractiveness”(Statistics). Consider this fact, “69% of girls in one study said that magazine models influence their idea of the perfect body shape”(Statistics). Our dissatisfaction with ourselves is clearly heavily related to what is being “pushed” at us.
You can see this disconnect all throughout history as people are marketed one perfect body shape after another. From the corseted waists and hourglass figures of Victorian times to the more straight waisted, gender neutral fashion of the 1920’s. We have always had something “perfect” pushed in our faces. Men and women have strived to achieve the unachievable. Going so far as to surgically “fix” what society says is wrong with them. This hurts my heart. Why do we as humankind, have to experience this struggle?
I ironically went to watch the live action remake of Dumbo as I am writing this tonight. It put a light on the true meaning of beauty for me. I’m only going to point out what is also in the original movie, so I don’t spoil the new movie for anyone. Dumbo is teased for his ears like in the original. He also learns to embrace his ears, by using his newfound ability to fly. What I am trying to say is, Dumbo only learns his true beauty when he accepts himself as he is. This is such a beautiful message for everyone, chronic illness or not.
When you have a chronic illness and you find your body changing, it is frightening. Maybe you were able to achieve society’s standards before, but now it is impossible. Or maybe you have always struggled with the concept of beauty and not feeling beautiful enough. Whatever your situation, I believe that chronic illness is a gift. Just like Dumbo, we need a struggle to be able to truly understand our worth. I also believe that this is true for every person. The most important thing is for us to find the beauty in ourselves.
Now, I have to think in a perfect world, nobody would have self esteem issues. People would not have standards of beauty to be held up to and everyone is appreciated just as they are. Seeing as that is not the case, we need to discover the importance and worth in ourselves. Just as I talked about earlier, beauty is not skin deep. Beauty also is your personality, spirit, and mind. Who says that society gets to determine if I am beautiful or not? I’m throwing away that notion. We are all beautiful. I can’t sum it up better than this psalmist. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (NIV, Psalms 139:14).”
Thanks for reading this important article! Do you struggle with feeling beautiful? Please let me know if this is a topic that I should further expand on. Subscribe for more content and I’ll see you next time my Un-imaginables! Remember, each and everyone of you is beautiful!
“Beauty.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/beauty.
“Eating Disorders Community.” HealthyPlace, http://www.healthyplace.com/eating-disorders.
Statistics – WOMEN IN ADVERTISEMENTS AND BODY IMAGE, womeninads.weebly.com/statistics.html.
“Thought Provoking Self Esteem Statistics and Facts.” Thought Provoking Self Esteem Statistics and Facts, http://www.self-esteem-school.com/self-esteem-statistics.html.
Unwritten. “Here’s Why Society Has Unrealistic Beauty Standards.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 13 Nov. 2017, http://www.huffpost.com/entry/heres-why-society-has-unrealistic-beauty-standards_b_5a09bb8ee4b06d8966cf3172.
Image 1 by Alexandr Ivanov from Pixabay
photo 3 credit: Charlotte Astrid Body Image. The subjective concept of one’s physical appearance based on self-observation and the reactions of others. via photopin (license)