I woke up today, cracked open my laptop, and started having a wee morning read of a few blogs I follow to get me ready for my day. I’ve been doing this nearly every morning for a few weeks now even before Facebook and Twitter, a novel concept for my social media-tethered self.
I feel like the term “beautiful’ is overused, to the point the omission of it almost is taken as an insult. So much emphasis is placed on perceived beauty that we have become lazy in how we try to support and encourage one another. I’ve often wondered why I hear so much of “she’s such a beautiful girl” or “she is stunning” and so much less of “she is super intelligent” and “she’s so kind to others” between women. Why are intelligence, caring, compassion, empathy, ambition, and success less valued than aesthetics?
It doesn’t just happen when men describe women; in fact I actually think it speaks more about the relationship between women-to-women than the male-female dynamic. What was once a compliment or a remark on the extraordinary is now not only expected when describing any person, but has lost its specialness in the process. Just to be clear, I am not implying that anyone should ever feel they are not amazing, I just don’t understand why we think something that is so arbitrary is so important to our self-worth? The insinuation that beauty is paramount is a damaging concept to teach children because it devalues their other standards of self worth.
My parents always encouraged me academically, to have goals and aspirations, and to be a better person. Be a good friend, be kind to strangers, and don’t litter. Subconsciously I think I have surrounded myself with good friends who were raised to value every aspect of a person rather than assume everyone needs to be given a “PRETTY” sticker.
A few years ago, I briefly shared a flat with a girl who, though very intelligent, had been told by her parents that her best qualities were her looks, and her blonde hair. I am not joking; though her hair was pretty spectacular, to place such importance on it and value it as an aspect of her personality was negligent and cruel. She was home schooled, and had little experience with her peers until she was an adult. Her father refused to speak to her for a week as a teenager because she rebelled and got a haircut. Her value as a human being was measured by whether her parents considered her to be suitably attractive on the surface, but she was not rewarded for wanting to devour books or go to college.
Why does body positivity need to be linked to self-perception of beauty above all else? Can a person not be happy with their own sense of self without the need to be considered aesthetically pleasing? Though we may feel we are just being nice, maybe this need to classify everything and everybody as beautiful is doing more harm than good.