I have spent a large portion of the last year working to help others see the beauty that they posses, both inside and out, through poetry, discussions, blog posts, performance art, and so on. (Just look at how many blog posts I have written over the years about being beautiful!)
This mission comes after years and years of struggling with my own demons; in fact, I’ve been fighting to feel pretty and worthwhile for so long that I think, maybe, I have lost sight of the bigger picture. In my quest to help myself & others feel beautiful, I’ve stopped asking questions.
What is beauty, anyway? How can EVERYONE be beautiful?
Why do I even want to be pretty? Why are beauty and self worth so intertwined in our culture?
Why am I working so hard to subvert beauty standards? Wouldn’t it be better to just abandon the quest to be beautiful all together?
Why does it feel more important to be beautiful than nice, or smart, or interesting, or funny… or any of the other awesome traits people have?
Now, I’m not saying that all of the work that I (and so many others) have done is worthless by any means, but at the same time I have to ask…
Just for a few minutes, at least, can we try thinking of something even more radical? Namely, why can’t we just say FUCK YOU to beauty?
Out of all of the things there are to find admirable and valuable in a person, why is it that beauty so often seems to win out over intelligence, strength, compassion, athleticism, creativity, bravery, honesty, and so on? Rarely do we see people wasting countless hours fretting over their lack of compassion for others, or their cowardice. Rarely do we compliment others on their kindness, or their strength… for whatever reason it all seems to come down to beauty, at least it does in my life.
Its funny that until now, I just accepted that unquestioningly, asking myself over and over again how can I feel beautiful? when I should have been asking WHY. Why does everything come down to being beautiful in the first place?
Let’s think about this logically: what does me or you being beautiful do to improve the lives of others? Nothing, really. Certainly it does not do as much as passion, or kindness, or empathy, or bravery… these are the attributes that change the world… not beauty. And, even better, these are the attributes that have nothing to do with genetics. We can CHOOSE to go out of our way to be kind, to be brave, to passionately chase dreams, to harness our talents to change the world. At any moment, each and every one of us has the power to be a strong, compassionate, brave, and make a difference in the world.
You can’t wake up one morning and just decide to change your appearance to fit whatever mold beautiful takes on in your society (at least, not without a lot of money and pain)… either you fit the mold of beautiful or you don’t. We all know this and yet, we all seem to spend so much more time obsessing over beauty than we do over all of those other wonderful and useful qualities.
So again, I say fuck beauty. Beauty is passive, either you have it naturally or you waste endless amounts of time on primping and preening until you look as beautiful as possible. BEAUTY IS DISEMPOWERING!
Even the concept of “inner beauty” bothers me to a degree. Why not inner strength? Inner kindness? Inner AWESOMENESS? Why does it always come down to beauty?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am NOT trying to belittle the struggles of those who wrestle with body image issues. How could I be, when I am just as entrenched in this as anyone else? All I am trying to do is shed some light, shake things up, and get us to question just WHY it is that we feel so much pressure to look a certain way; to be beautiful.
Instead of trying to change perceptions of beauty, maybe we should just run with it… embrace the title of ugly and use it to force others to see the value in the rest of us; our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams… because at the end of the day, that’s where the real value lies.
My Ugly Manifesta
(What would yours look like?)
I’d rather be courageous than beautiful. I will not be demure, quiet and pretty… instead I will be loud, friendly, and assertive. I will get into the face of those who try to oppress others and I will confront them. I will be that loud, “ugly” feminist when the situation calls for it.
I’d rather be unique than beautiful. I will wear the clothes that make me feel happiest in whatever manner I desire. I will wear as much or as little makeup as I feel comfortable with each day. I will shave as much or as little as I see fit. If I happen to fit some standard of beauty one day, fine; I will not care one way or another because my confidence does not depend on anyone’s approval but my own.
I’d rather be happy than beautiful. I will not waste a moment of my life worrying about how I look to others. I’d rather spend my time concerned with how I am treating others, and interacting with them!
I’D RATHER BE UGLY THAN BEAUTIFUL. Being ugly means saying fuck you to the beauty norms and embracing the person I am, not the person that the world is trying to tell me to be; being ugly means being totally happy with the person I am and never hiding that girl from the world, no matter what.
Crossposted @ Amplify.