Models are supposed to be tall, skinny and flawless. Instagram models are seen as gorgeous and beautiful. The Kardashians are the epitome of stunning females. But why are these the only categories that define beauty? Society has constructed beauty to be these things: skinny, petite, straight hair, lighter skin, girlie, and quiet. I'm here to say that this is NOT beauty and I am glad to explain what beauty means to me.

Beauty is such a vague word. The definition represents a vast amount of people. Beauty is coiled and curly hair. It is big ears that poke out from your head. It is freckles and moles. It is messy buns and sweatpants. It is being quiet, loud, courageous, and bold. Curves are beautiful, including the one you use every day on your face. Gapped teeth, straight teeth, crooked teeth, it is all beautiful. Chocolate skin, caramel skin, and mocha colored skin ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. Beauty consists of your imperfections.

Beyond the physical features, beauty comes from within. It may seem cliché but that statement is true. Genuineness is one of the most absolute beautiful things in this world. The ability to show affection through laughs, tears, and smiles is a beauty. The ability to cry and show your emotions as a man in this society is amazing. The ability that women can "work as hard as a man" is unruly shocking. How is it shocking? It's shocking because women are overlooked and seen as less than a man, but that is not right and the world has changed SO much. The ability to fight against societal norms and be who YOU are a beauty.

I am an African-American woman in America and I have been questioned about my hair, heritage, culture, and more. Growing up in America, I have always tried to fit in with what society thought was beauty. At the age of 8 or 9, I begged my mother to give me my first relaxer (a chemical product that straightens hair for a period of time). I begged her for one because I wanted to be like some of my Caucasian friends. I thought that by straightening my hair that I would belong, but what I didn't realize that I was changing myself to fit into a norm that constricts other definitions of beauty.

Beauty is not straight hair, but how you wear your hair, whether that's curly, colorful, braided or locked. Whatever you think can help you express yourself in a brighter light is Be-YOU-tiful.

What do you see when you look in the mirror? You should see a person with many flaws, but flaws are what makes you who you are. To be beautiful is to be unique. Give yourself a break from the negative thoughts and critiques. Focus on positive features about you (which to me is everything). Never let someone make you feel like you're less than the beautiful person that you are. OWN ALL of your imperfections, because that is what makes you PERFECT!