Challenging Beauty Standards

by Gaby Marraro

The Lammily doll challenges Barbie’s beauty standards

In a world of strict, and often unrealistic standards of beauty, I find myself comparing, hating, and scrutinizing my own body. It’s easy to do. There are a million reasons to see my body negatively, because there are a million different people telling me to. There is a strong culture of shame around eating and indulgence, around blemishes and scars, and around a number on a scale. We talk about it every day, we make comments, we judge people on their appearance and the ways they choose to present themselves. It’s welcomed. It seems normal.

But here’s the thing—it’s not. Although this type of discourse exists and is in front of us all the time, there is nothing forcing us to be a part of it. There is no one telling us to comment on someone’s outfit or to judge. Yes, it is encouraged and welcomed, but not required. I have been told that there is an important difference between what your first reaction is to something and how you handle it. So while your first thought when looking at someone might be to question his or her personal choices, you then get to decide what you do about that reaction.

I’ve recently started following a rule I made for myself, which is, simply: do not comment on other people. Unless you have something kind to say (and even then I wonder if it’s in my rights to express any opinion about someone else’s appearance), don’t say it. And since I began following this, I’ve noticed a big difference in my life. I’m more positive, kinder, and I worry less about what other people think of me because I see that when the roles are reversed, it really shouldn’t matter. Once you start living by your own standards, presenting yourself in a way that contributes to your own happiness, and promising to give others the space to do the same, you begin to feel so much more secure in your own skin, and that is worth more than the few seconds of satisfaction we get from doing the opposite.

Gaby Marraro is a first-year at Barnard and a staff writer for the Nine Ways of Knowing blog.

Image courtesy of Forward.

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