As mothers, sisters, aunts, best friends, boyfriends, dads, and cousins, we have a responsibility. Society has painted a picture of what beauty is. Although we’re becoming slightly more open minded, we still have miles to go. I think the idea of beauty should be talked about in the home and with the people that surround you so that the big, scary ideals of Hollywood and current fashion culture can’t get into the heads of our young ones.
My twelve-year old sister is self conscious of her hips. She doesn’t like the way that they jut out a little farther than the other girls in her class. She compares them to my twenty-year old hips. My little sister will never have the body I do, and I never had the body she has. I was a chubby girl and Lydia is tall and thin (with hips).
Look, I know the media is bringing in more diversity into our ideals of beauty, but still we are constantly comparing ourself to someone who we deem “more beautiful,” and that needs to stop. Wide hips aren’t ugly, and there is nothing that can be done about them. Skinny legs aren’t ugly. Frizzy hair isn’t ugly. Bushy eyebrows aren’t ugly. Red hair isn’t ugly. Cankles aren’t ugly. Tummies aren’t ugly. You guys! Every characteristic that makes us the unique human that we are is so gorgeous!
I have always been self conscious of my wide hips, broad shoulders, freckles on my back, scars, and gross feet. My wide hips are genetic, and I have come to understand that no matter how much I diet, or run, I will not change the 34 inches around my hip bones. My broad shoulders showcase thirteen solid years of dedication to softball. I was an athlete and my body lets everyone around me see that. The freckles on my back tell my love of the sun. My scars prove that I’ve been dragged through a patch of nettles, I went to softball practice and forgot to wear long socks, I fell out of a tree, and I suck at shaving my legs. And gross feet are common consequences when you prefer bare feet to sandals in the summer. Find the stories within what makes you self conscious about yourself, and you will start to love yourself even more.
Loving yourself can be hard, though. Make sure to love the people around you as well! Whenever Lydia complains about her hips, I tell her that her hips are okay, and even if she doesn’t like them now, she will definitely grow into them. Whenever she tries on clothes, I make sure that she knows she shouldn’t worry about an outfit simply because she is insecure about her hips. I want her to feel as comfortable in her own skin as possible, and not only feel comfortable, but feel beautiful and confident! Growing up is difficult, and I didn’t have anyone who was reassuring me that I was beautiful, so I am making sure Lydia has that.
Obviously, I treat my friends in the same way. If my friends lose weight, I celebrate with them. If they gain weight, I let them know that they are still fierce and amazing and beautiful, and that the number on their scale doesn’t dictate how beautiful they are. I compliment strangers if I like their style, or lipstick, or shoes. Spontaneous compliments from strangers are the best, because they are so honest. It is so genuine and almost always appreciated.
How can we give younger people the confidence they need, rather than shove the stereotypical facets of beauty in their faces? It will help if we start young. Remind our young people that beauty is so much more than the physical features their bodies have. Knowledge, strength, confidence, curiosity, determination, positivity, joy, and so many other qualities create beautiful humans. We need to stray from the idea that arched eyebrows and toned, tan legs are the only things that build you up to be beautiful. However, we can’t ignore the physical beauty! Tell your little boys and girls to love their freckles. Let them style their own hair, and if they’re happy, reassure them that it looks great! Acknowledge that the pretty model on the magazine is, in fact, gorgeous, but also show them athletes, political figures, musicians, and scientists. Broaden their minds to understand that there isn’t a cookie cutter expectation for beauty. It is okay for you to be a beautiful model. It is okay for you to be a beautiful, muscular runner. It is okay for you to be a doctor with the most gorgeous pixi cut. Address that people, both stick thin and overweight, have beauty. The number on any scale doesn’t determine whether or not someone can be beautiful.
People are beautiful because we are so unique. Our different skin colors, and hair types, and personal style, and eyelashes, and the lengths of our legs, and how our smiles curve are all what make us so unbelievably special. Embrace the amazing qualitites you have been given, and appreciate what others have as well. It’s the differences between us that spark our own love for our own beauty.