I Believe in Real Beauty

Elizabeth - Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
Entered on December 21, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Beauty is a war. My body is the enemy.

Every morning I fire the opening shot of this war as I frown at my reflection. Every night, with my last gaze in the mirror, I’ve lost again.

The kitchen, cafeteria, and grocery store are battlefields. Magazines, TV shows, advertisements, books, and movies are weapons. It’s near-impossible not to pay attention to the assaulting images which shoot down my self-esteem. I have to close my eyes and ears to the outside world in order to make peace. But that’s near-impossible, too

Every self-criticizing action presses me further into the heat of battle: passing my reflection with despair, pinching any flesh I’ve got; my parents’ and friends’ worries about my body going in one ear and out the other.

Every lunch when one friend drops her food, saying “I’m such a fatty…” then another shoots back “You’re fat?! Look at me!” the looks I give them could melt that so-called “fat” right off. Then I hear the excuse: “You’re skinny, Elizabeth. You wouldn’t understand.” Yeah, right.

The pressure to be thin and beautiful has taken its toll on all teenage girls. In school bathrooms we gaze in the mirrors and criticize every imperfection. Skin blemishes, hairs out of place, makeup mess-ups. Fleshy stomachs, hips, arms and legs. In the locker room, we throw around statements like “I’m so fat today,” “Look at this food baby!” and “Ugh, my thighs are huge!” as casually as the dodge-balls we’re about to use. These comments are normal, accepted, even encouraged among us, each trying to top the others with her flaws.

I see a world where beauty is measurements: height, weight, breast size, waist size. And if you don’t fit, it’s hard to be beautiful.

Tall, thin models plaster every fashion magazine we buy. On TV, the only women we see larger than Kate Moss appear on makeovers and weight-loss infomercials. Tabloids at the grocery store offer us “The 20 best and worst celebrity beach bodies” and question whether that slight roundness under Fergie’s shirt is “a baby bump.” Celebrities forcibly defend themselves, stating “A size 2 is not fat!” and “Kiss my fat a**!” Seventeen magazine boasts “The Body Peace Project,” and, on the next page, the best workout moves for a tight bikini body. Diets are so much a part of our lives that we must watch Diet Wars in health class to learn their faults. One percent of teenage girls hate their bodies enough to ally with anorexia.

Maybe someday the war for beauty will end. Maybe a tabloid will call a real-looking woman beautiful. But for now, I believe the only way to find beauty in our own selves is to ignore the media’s standard. I believe beauty should not be a tight mold to starve your way into. It should be found in everyone, everywhere, no matter her measurements. That is real beauty.