“It’s what’s on the inside that counts”
We’ve heard this cliché a thousand times, but it falls on deaf ears. When you grow up in a society that places so much emphasis on physical attractiveness, why should we believe that our outer appearance doesn’t matter? It’s ingrained in our psyche at a young age. Disney movies create the protagonist princesses to be beautiful and thin while the evil witch is ugly, sometimes overweight, and always physically undesirable. The message is simple: beautiful=good and ugly=bad.
The harsh reality is that beautiful people do have an advantageous edge on life, not for who they are but for how they look. The “physically attractive stereotype” is defined as a tendency, described by psychologists, to assume that people who are physically attractive also possess other socially desirable personality traits. Attractive people seem more likable and trustworthy. Being blessed by the genetic lottery makes you more likely to be hired, promoted, and make more money. So it's not all about what's on the inside.
It’s hard not to fall into the trap that beauty is the ultimate goal. We strive for this because it has been positioned in a place of utmost significance in our culture, and with a beauty standard that has been defined as thin and white with perfectly proportioned curves, 53% of 13-year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies. This number grows to 78% by the time they are 17. With an impossibly high standard of beauty and no control over our genetics, almost all young girls are set up for self-hatred and a desire to improve themselves.
I’m guilty of falling into this trap, but it’s time to stop chasing the unattainable and improve myself in the ways I can. I don’t want people to define me by my looks and I certainly don’t want to be remembered for being pretty. There are so many things I’d rather be than “pretty”, but here are my top six.
I want to actively seek new information, read lots of books, and get as much out of my education as possible.
I want people to know that I am self-assured and happy with who I am.
I will push myself in my studies and eventually pursue a career that I am passionate about and proud of.
I want to handle myself in tough situations and come out of them with new knowledge and strength.
I never want to feel dependent on others for anything, especially happiness. I should be able to rely on myself for that.
I want people to know I care about them, and I hope to be someone that others can come to with ease.
Beauty is something we may have today, but not necessarily tomorrow. As beauty fades, we’re only left with the person we’ve built for ourselves. It’s time to stop striving for perfection because we all have so much more to offer than plain old beauty.