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The Eye of the Beholder

I think I’ve finally reached my max capacity of seeing Photoshopped women. The hours I’ve spent on the internet or thumbing through magazines encountering the touched-up faces and bodies of celebrities and models has finally taken its toll.

I had a chance to engage in real human social interaction over spring break. This has been rare this semester as I currently have two jobs, full-time school, an internship and volunteering on my plate. While I was out, I had a chance to do some people watching.

Every person looked so real and human and relatable.  Not one person was absolutely perfect, but everyone was beautiful. Imperfections make everyone so much more interesting. I’m finding as I get older that I prefer the flaws of other people to the things that are “societally right” with their appearance. I like when I can see stretch marks peek through on a woman’s hip or when a man has a bump on his nose.  It is so much more human than the creepy smoothness of a magazine photo illustration.

Also, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I’m not the only woman who has agonized over the way she looks.  Body image has been such a topical issue as advertisements, song lyrics and other forms of media have been criticized over the years.  It’s second nature for me to criticize myself. I do it without realizing I’m doing it.

Is this the fault of the media? Maybe. I don’t know. I definitely understand how powerful it has affected me personally.  Is it in my power to take control of this and find my own beauty? Sure. Yes, it is. Will it be easy? Probably not, but it’s better than the alternative.

I’ve picked up on the casualness of how people scrutinize themselves and others about appearance.  Even after I receive a compliment, I can be quick to counteract it with a personal criticism. “I like your hair, Jerrica.” I smile and say, “Thanks, but I really need to trim it.”

We make beauty so complicated. That whole “eye of the beholder” thing has taken a backseat since the Beholder has become these mass media forums like advertising agencies. Society puts so much pressure on appearance that everything else takes a backseat. It is all-consuming for some.

Today, there is so much more to cosmetics than foundation and mascara. Women have options like hair extensions, eyelash extensions, tanning, hair dye, teeth whitening and mani-pedis. We can participate in laser hair removal and chemical skin peels on our faces. We are pressured to subject ourselves to ripping hair off our bodies with hot wax just to feel okay about ourselves.

Men also are a part of this. It might not be as talked about as it is for women, but men are also subjected to this pressure as well.

It doesn’t have to be that way, but who am I to tell you how to feel about yourself? All I know is that if you truly hate something about your appearance, you should just try to love it, even for a second. Love the hell out of it. Maybe give it a nickname or something, I don’t know. Just know that it is just one part of you, and there is nothing wrong with you.

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