Challenging Beauty Standards

Challenging Beauty Standards

How to be confident in today's society.

Very few people have complete self-confidence. In the society we live in with all the beauty "standards" set forth, it is practically impossible for anyone to love themselves 100%. There always seems something that could be better or fixed. That shouldn't be a "standard." Even girls in Fifth grade think they need makeup. When I was in Fifth grade, I didn't even know what bronzer was. Media has such a strong influence on women and children (men too); It's demolishing our self-esteem and brain-washes into thinking there's something wrong with us. Here's something I wrote in my early high school years:

"What if you looked in a mirror, and actually liked what you see?

What if you said "thank you" instead of denying your beauty?

What would happen if you actually appreciated what you have?

See, there's a reason you are who you are and that reason's never bad.

We were put on this earth to make beauty in everything we do.

But how can you do that if you don't see the beauty in you?

It's hard for me to grasp the idea of self-loathing.

I mean, how much makeup you wear or your weight isn't everything.

Neither are the shoes you wear, where your clothes come from, or how straight you can get your hair.

I can only imagine how you see yourself, but it’s so hard for those around you to bear.

All your loved ones around you want you to be happy in your own body.

You shouldn't listen to the hurtful things from a random somebody.

Listen to the people who care and want to make you happy.

It's them who say the truth, no matter how sappy.

You need to understand just how amazing you are.

You are gorgeous, but that's not what is important by far.

All that actually matters in life is who you are on the inside.

Yes, you've probably heard from your mother or some philosopher who, by now, has died.

But there's still every bit of meaning in internal beauty.

Yes, first impressions are generally based on looks,

but show your internal self and that first impression will be overlooked.

Looks and appearances cannot define a person for who they are and what they become.

It's what you feel in your heart makes you the person you become.

I feel in my heart I am set to create beauty in art in this world.

It's different for each person, but what's the same is, is just one word.

Beauty. Beauty comes in all shapes and forms.

Each and every person has their own unique way to make this earth transform.

I'm not saying that everyone uses it or even knows what it is they can do,

But everyone still has their personal beauty, just like you.

You have a beauty unlike anyone else.

You create beauty in your own way, by being yourself.

You are the only one who can change the world in this way,

Don't waste it on hating yourself while you let your beauty rot and decay.

I'm saying this as a person who cares and has experienced the bad,

Accept yourself for who you are because that person is pretty rad.

Be brave and express your inner self.

Embrace your beauty and stay you."

In summary, don't feel like you have to look like celebrities or models. You don't need it. Beauty "standards" should not be standards at all. Being your beautiful self should be your only standard.

Personally, I have great self-confidence, but I do have things I don't like about myself. It's hard to distinguish what I want to change for: Do I change because that's what society thinks is best or do I do it for myself? It's practically impossible for us to break away from what the America culture sees as beautiful, so all we can do is do what's best for us, not for them.

Cover Image Credit: Samantha Ledbetter

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.

It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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Taking Time For Yourself Is Nothing To Feel Guilty About, It's Healthy

Your emotional health should be your utmost priority — and you deserve to be in good emotional health.


Renowned Sōtō Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki once said that: "We do not exist for the sake of something else. We exist for the sake of ourselves." We've often been told the opposite, however. We've been told that our worth is dependent on what we can do for others and that our existence itself is meant for the advancement of society. There is no place within our culture to truly exist with ourselves. The parts of our culture that claim to value self-love and self-care tend to commodify it in the form of relaxation products and personal development products — albeit helpful at times but mostly meant to addict us without true benefit to our inner selves.

As a young student, I talked with an orthopedic surgeon — a very overworked, ambitious woman — who told me to learn how to make it in the long haul, whether in my personal, interpersonal, or career life. You had to learn to enjoy yourself and find inner peace along the way. Because there would come a time, she said, when I would become guilty to take time for myself and forget what it's like to really enjoy life. Unfortunately, I made it to that point — I worked and worked and worked until I finally burned myself out. That's when I had to make certain changes in my life to understand how I got to that point and where I needed to go from there.

In the midst of our grand ambitions, it's easy to either go all in or all out. Either to give your entire self to a certain end or give nothing at all. I've been very much guilty of ending up on both ends of the spectrum — I would either devote all my time to writing/school or hit a roadblock and give it all up for a while. It felt like the value of my life was predicated on success, whatever that meant, in terms of contributing more and more and achieving more and more. It's never, ever enough, however. No matter what you achieve, there will always be a million more things on your to-do list. Whatever you triumph over, there will always be a million more roadblocks in your path.

The answer for me was to learn how to exist with myself, how to exist with other people, how to exist amidst all the dreams I had for the future, but also in the present moment where all my past dreams had come to fruition. Sometimes I would dive too deep into myself, and lose myself in thought, as noted in Chbosky's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," "Sometimes people use thought to not participate in life." But I learned to participate fully, each moment to moment not necessarily enjoyable, but I find enjoyable moments each day with my friends, dog, boyfriend, and myself alone with a book or a pen.

Oftentimes as a crisis counselor, I am asked the questions: What's the point? Why am I here? What is there to look forward to? It's hard for me to precisely answer that question because, frankly, no one has anyone answer. But here's an answer that I believe in, born of taking time for ourselves: we live to feel the hope for happiness again. We live for the moments of joy, contentment, relaxation, excitement, pleasure, love, happiness, everything. We live to experience and to find each other. We live on because each new moment brings a surprise. There are many, many good moments in the future for all of us, even amongst the bad.

It's impossible to really experience life, however, if we're unable to take time to ourselves. That's one of my greatest fears, actually, that life will pass me by and I won't be able to experience each day as a full and complete miracle. There's something lost when everyone else gains from commodifying all aspects of our lives. Are you going to keep living for everyone else, or will you learn to exist for yourself? Do you owe the world your entire self, or can you take back at least some of yourself right now? Is it selfish to feel happy and not only to suffer?

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