How can we both be beautiful if we are nothing alike?

Art by Vivian
By Amy Krimm and Vivian Liao

From a young age, we are taught to compare ourselves to others. We compare ourselves to our friends, our family, figures in magazines and in the mainstream media. In an essence, we are comparing ourselves to society’s socially constructed idea of beauty, and of the ideal body. The media causes us to think that beauty exists solely in one form. This brings about the question we are inevitably conditioned to ask: how how can we both be beautiful if we are nothing alike?


Art by Amelia
You are a little girl, sitting on the poorly upholstered bench in the Macy’s dressing room. You eagerly watch as your mother slips into a dress she found in the back corner of the on sale rack.
"Sweetie can you zip me up", the sound of miniature teeth snapping together, the stretch and pull of the red satin. It is a tight dress, low cut with a small slit up one leg. It seems to move with your mother, they are one. 
"How do I look", she says, turning to face you. Oh, you smile, mommy you look beautiful. You watch as she spins, laughing and dizzy. You are now giggling with her, energized with her happiness.
That’s the moment you’ll capture and keep safe in the back of your mind.
Suddenly, she stops. Posing in front of the smudged mirror, she looks at herself. At her chubby stomach, and freckled skin. At the wrinkles forming on her face, and the way her legs seem to sag under her weight. You are holding your breath, afraid to make a sound. Hours pass before your mother slides out of the red prison and places it back on the cheap plastic hanger. "I would buy it", she says to herself, "if I were a little younger. If I were a little thinner."
"So sunshine, how about going out for ice cream", a brave attempt to lighten the mood.
"Ok, whatever you want."
As you are leaving the dressing room, you glance at the mirror and begin to see your own flaws. A missing front tooth, and a wrinkled t-shirt. Sagging, mismatched socks. Scabbed knees stained green from years of playing outside.
Your mother calls to you from outside the dressing room. You take one last look at your reflection, and scamper out to meet her. Neither of you realize that the first blow has been taking to your body image. The first of many.


But isn’t that just part of growing up?


The same people who say that inner beauty is the only thing that matters are also the ones forgetting the constant presence of beauty standards. We can’t be too chubby, nor too thin. We can have hair here, but not there. That a lack of physique invalidates one’s masculinity. Technology is rapidly increasing, causing many youth to be exposed to society’s standards. At a young age, they are taught to be humbled by the glamorous models in the media. As a result, their confidence is being stripped away. It is no surprise then that after so many years, people are still incapable of seeing see their own beauty.


The truth is, we should not feel the need to fit into this image, this mould constructed by society. Embrace your differences. Know that you are all beautiful, inside and out.
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Art by Amy

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