“As I looked in the mirror, my mother placed her hands on my shoulders with disgust filled eyes,” student Dani Adams recalled. “She sighed before saying, ‘We will just have to fix your face later,’ then left the bathroom.
Adams stood there crying, telling herself that she wasn’t enough. She thought it was true because her own mother didn’t think she was good enough, then who would?
It hurt me to hear this story not only because one of the most beautiful, sweet, caring young ladies I had ever met had such low self-esteem, but also because the woman who told her she “wasn’t good enough” was also the one she called “mom.” That made my blood boil. People like my classmate’s mother have set beauty standards for the younger generations that force us to create and uphold a certain image that is “perfect.” Anything less than perfect is not accepted. So what is “perfect?”
Perfect is something or someone having all the required/desirable qualities, elements, or characteristics. This definition can change based on the country you’re in, and the mindsets of the people surrounding you. Here in America, the definition of “perfect” has more to do with looks than anything else. Throughout history, a majority of the people that live here fancy skinny women, or buff and muscular men that have money. Of course, they also have to be white or at least light-skinned. Their faces have to look a certain way, no double chins allowed, only straight white teeth, and women can’t wear anything above a size six.
I spoke with Denise Tench, a woman from my church, about the beauty standards and trends that were relevant when she was in her teens. “Every female was trying all types of diets, waist trainers, fasting and other weight-loss methods to get the glass Coke bottle or hourglass figure,” she explained.
We aren't taught to love the jelly rolls or different pigmentations of the skin. We aren't exposed to the beauty of melanin, all of the different eye colors, the many imperfections of the face that make us beautiful.
We are taught things like “being fat is bad because it causes so many health problems,” but that's not completely true. I myself am fat, and I have no major health issues besides being fat. Why does the fact that I'm a little bit bigger than other people have to be a problem? It doesn't have to be. Appearances are nothing compared to what's on the inside. And yeah, it's a cliche, but your beauty truly does shine from within.
This is partially our fault for enforcing these ridiculous standards on others constantly. Not only are some of us still trying to squeeze into those old jeans that we know are way too tight, but we’re also just starting to tell others how the way that they look doesn't matter. Sadly, it was too late for our generation. We have already been exposed to the pressures of society, and the idea of making ourselves as “perfect” as possible, just so we can make it through their day without much judgment.
“Everyone is beautiful, period,” said Vivian Snow, a 16-year-old student at Dearborn STEM Academy. “There is no ‘beautiful in your own way,’ nor is there any such thing as ‘perfect.’” Snow was labeled the “ugly” child at school and bullied on a daily basis, but that didn't stop her from keeping a smile on her face. While she accepted a boyfriend who only liked her for her body when she was younger, her perspective has changed.
“I was only twelve when I started dating him,” Snow said. “I was young and dumb, but I truly thought that that was love. Now whenever I think about that relationship, I think of all of the people like me who were in a toxic relationship because they were afraid that nobody else would love them. Us ‘ugly’ people don't get much of a choice anyway, or at least that's what people make you think.”
Snow is right, us “ugly” people are made to think that we have to stick with anyone who shows any interest in us, even if they're literally one of the worst people on the planet. That's why so many of us try our best to become something that everyone wants, but not what you want for yourself.
We as the people of the world — and specifically the younger generations, since the future is in our hands — should start to end this cycle of overrated, and fairly boring beauty standards. It's time for a change, don't you think? Let us make 2020 the first year of full acceptance of all people, regardless of what they look like. Let's try to agree that everyone is beautiful (and if you want to add the “in their own way” thing, then do that) and just start being real to ourselves.