Just The Way You Are

For many of us, women, it is difficult to look at ourselves in the mirror and not find flaws in what we see. But let me tell you, most of those flaws, if not all, are in our heads—they are social constructs that we have come to internalize over time. Unlike what many believe, it is very difficult to master our own bodies, and even more difficult to accept them the way they are. We cannot control our genetic composition, and as much as we all wish we were born with long legs, perfect skin, and shiny hair, the reality is, not all of us are. The persisting problem in today’s culture, however, lies with society’s standards of beauty, which have mainly been shaped by those long legs, perfect skin, and shiny hair we all dream of. It is time for everyone to recognize that this is not reality.

Women have to stop telling themselves that they are “too fat”, “too small” or “too tall”. Our society has emphasized skinniness and flat bellies too much for us to feel good about our bodies, which has led to both psychological and social stress for the vast majority of us. We shouldn’t be ashamed of having cellulite and no thigh gap, or being under 5’2” while weighing more than 120 pounds. We shouldn’t hide our curves, our breasts or our skin just because they aren’t identical to the features we see on the “flawless” models in magazines or on social media.

The truth is, advertisers photoshop everything, and the same models who we are exposed to daily are just as imperfect as us. So tell yourself this next time you look at yourself in the mirror: models’ legs are not that long and not that thin, their breasts are disproportionate, their stomachs are not that flat (and if they are, they spend hours at the gym because it’s a job requirement), and their hair can get as greasy as yours.

“Be your own woman. Be your own kind of role model”, said Ashley Graham, body activist in the model industry. Her body positivity movement has grown tremendously over the last few years, and more and more women today have embraced her message and started trying to feel good about their bodies rather than constantly working to alter them. Like Graham, we should all be advocates of and contributors to the changing face of beauty.

After all, we are all representative of beauty, despite our physical differences. It doesn't matter if we are plus size, 00, short, or tall, white, black, Asian or Hispanic. All of the labels fabricated by society and the fashion industry are not supposed to set standards of beauty—because in real life, there should be no “standard” beauty. Beauty is incredibly subjective and we need to stop letting advertisements dictate what we look like or how we feel about our looks. We don't need magazines to tell us what to eat or not eat, how much time we should spend at the gym, or how much money we should spend on makeup.

It is ok to be small, you can wear high heels! It is ok to be large, you have sexy curves! It is ok to be tall, you can rock any pair of pants! And it is ok to be skinny too (even skinny people have physical complexes)! Whatever the label society has attributed to you, it is not a measure of how beautiful you are. Therefore, we must stop relying on fashion magazines and society’s expectations of beauty. Because if we don’t feel good on the inside, our body will find a way to reflect that negativity on the outside and we will remain in a vicious cycle of self-consciousness and self-doubt. Do not doubt that you are beautiful. There is nothing wrong with you. Love yourself, just the way you are.

Freshman student at Brown University. Originally from Paris, France.

Contributing writer at Brown's chapter since March 2018.

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