The Beauty of You

October 26, 2008
By Jessica Lai, Brooklyn, NY

Walking down a hallway is like walking on hot coals. Everyone has their eyes on you and you can’t help but feel uncomfortable at the intensity of their gazes. You have the sudden urge to run as fast as you can to your intended destination, but panic begins to set in. Your first thought is, Do I have something on my face? When you’ve reassured yourself that there is nothing on your face (or anywhere else for that matter), you begin to realize that you’re being scrutinized. The look in their eyes tells it all, “You’re wearing that?”

Like many teenage girls and adult women, I’ve flipped through magazines and admired the women on the pages. I was confident of my appearance, until I got my monthly dose of Seventeen magazine. On every other page, there would be some gorgeous young woman in a cute or glamorous outfit that seemed to be calling my name. I looked at those pages and thought jealously, “Why couldn’t I look like that?” and “I want that.” Then I began to criticize my body, trying to find an invisible flaw like an extra ounce of body fat. “What’s she got that I don’t?” is another question that I can’t answer. Suddenly I realized what I was doing and snapped out of my daze. I told myself, “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with me.” I knew that the women on those pages weren’t real, just a product of good photoshopping and airbrushing. The models on those pages represented the unattainable standard of beauty that somehow we had to try to emulate.

On every street corner in New York, celebrities and models are featured on billboards enticing us to buy the latest handbag or cosmetics product. These ads are telling us that to be beautiful we need to have this handbag or that lipstick. It makes women of all ages feel insecure about themselves if they don’t have the product advertised or to compare themselves to the model. We can never look like those models on the pages of magazines or on billboards. For one thing, they’re paid to be slim, tall, and gorgeous. To an extent, those models are just like us ordinary women. We all worry about how we look (the only exception is that models worry about it more). They may get all the expensive clothes and jewelry and travel all over the world, but we have something of value, too – people who care about us, for who we are, not who we try to be.

We all want to look perfect but the fact is perfection is unattainable. We should accept who we are and not care if other people have a problem with it. To advertising companies, we’re just dollar signs. Instead of trying to find our flaws, we should instead focus on how advertising companies play on our insecurities. We have the power to say, “No more” because we are the demographic they go after. We have the power to stop the influence of these advertising companies and we have the right to be who we are.

It’s true that there are plenty of women of all ages who are content with themselves and not easily swayed by the pressure to conform. However, there are millions of women who do care about what others think about them, who do want to fit in and be beautiful. Instead of comparing ourselves to the women on those magazine pages, we should fight for our right to be who we are and to stop the effects of ads that make us feel insecure about ourselves. We have the power to say no because we’re the one with all the cards. Our power lies in being the primary audience of advertising companies.

Women will always feel insecure about themselves, but as the former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” No one has the right to tell you how you should look or make you feel insecure about yourself. You are perfect just the way you are. You have the power to change the situation, but the question is will you?

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