It is the year 2011—a year of endless possibilities, the last movie of the Harry Potter series, and yet another, blissful release of a Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. You want nothing more in life than to wear your favorite Aeropostale shirt, take a selfie (with a Photobooth filter), and give your crush a code name that probably has something to do with an edible item or brand name (corn flakes sat next to me in algebra today!). Your most pressing concern is how many times you can watch One Direction’s latest music video without seriously upsetting your mom.
It’s not really a matter of concern to you that the very music you and your friends, at your most tender, impressionable age, listen to, is ingraining within you a normative measure that will eventually become an inherent “given;” something that may change your view of what love should really look like, or even your expectations of a future partner.
A key, pivotal line in that One Direction song that likely was stuck in your head for hours at a time is that where it changes from “you don’t know you’re beautiful” to its effect on this decidedly beautiful boy singing it: “that’s what makes you beautiful!” Cause, and effect. Simple, right?
Think about it. When was the last time that guy on Tinder paid you a compliment about how lovely or beautiful you are, and you responded with an acknowledgment of your beauty and worth? It was likely more along the lines of a denial of our beauty—a thank you, an “oh, I’m alright,” or something far more submissive and definitely not in ownership of the compliment given to us. We as girls are not supposed to know and acknowledge that we are beautiful. That would make us conceited, or brazen. Men don’t find that attractive. Even writing this, it seems unrealistic for me to be urging readers to take responsibility and credit for being beautiful. How conceited, I think, even as I ponder these statements. I couldn’t do that.
No, but we have to.
For the sake of our future daughters and our younger sisters and any beautiful in her own right, shy, already-overwhelmed girl in a mostly unfriendly world, it is our inherent duty to take ownership of our worth. Mac Miller raps that his “favorite part” is that when a woman “don’t know how beautiful [she] is.” When did masculine criteria become what we base our reactionary interactions off of?
Women are meant to be confident but demure, alluring yet innocent; beautiful, yet unaware.
According to the perpetuation driven by mainstream media upon impressionable young women, that is.
This expectation shouldn’t be the case.
Take ownership of yourself. Take ownership of your beauty, your worth, and separate that from the expectations of other people who don’t deserve that power. They can only have that power if you give it to them. I cannot, of course, tell you what to do—and yet I cannot do this alone. For too long women and minority, classes have been trying to change perpetual harm with little to no success because of their lack of community and unity in their decisive actions.
Let this be our time, our place; let us take ownership of our own selves and recognize our invaluable worth. You are all beautiful, each and every one.
It’s time to start telling that to the world.