Beauty Doesn't Equal a Girl's Value, From the Editor

Beauty Doesn't Equal a Girls Value
Tracy Bernard

Social media provides such insight as to what is happening within our culture. For example, if a woman posts a new profile picture, you are bound to read many reactions like: “Beautiful!” “My Pretty Friend!” “Gorgeous Girl!!” “Lovely inside and out!” – regardless of the woman’s level of attractiveness. Conversely, if a man changes his profile picture, they will get fewer comments in general and a significantly smaller number of comments on their looks, if any. It is my assessment that when a woman posts a photo, people aren’t actually telling her she’s pretty at all. Perhaps they are actually saying: “I like you.” But why is this the language they use?

We as women work hard at being beautiful. We spend tons of time and money, and even endure pain to alter our appearance into some acceptable standard of beauty. Waxing, plucking, coloring, exfoliating, lasers, Botox®, shaping undergarments, photo filter apps…the list goes on. Men are expected to be hygienic and fairly well dressed, but are still permitted to be hairy, gray, even slightly wrinkled and overweight. Where does this disparity come from? If it were purely primal, meaning we need to be attractive to get the best possible mate so our offspring are strong and protected, it would apply equally to both sexes. It also doesn’t explain why women who are married and past the age of childbearing continue to chase beauty at great expense. Whatever this “thing” is, it appears to have to do with both aging and being female. However, it can’t be blamed on men alone. We sign up for it and perpetuate it. I personally should own stock in Ulta™ and shudder to think of the amount of money and, even worse, time I’ve spent trying to obtain the unrealistic standard.

Perhaps it comes down to worrying about how we’ll be treated. Fat shaming, internet trolling and general meanness are abundant and very public today. Female politicians are picked apart for what they look like rather than their positions on relevant topics. Award-winning actresses are asked what they are wearing while their male counterparts are asked about their current projects. Then you have people like the Kardashians who are revered simply for being beautiful. It can be a rough world in which to be female and less than a “ten”. But all of this is malarkey, though, isn’t it? At the end of the day, the make-up comes off and we need to be surrounded by people that value us for who we actually are – unbuffed and unpolished.

There is hope, though. I thought it would be an interesting social experiment for the purpose of this article to ask my friends on Facebook to tell me about what they liked best about their moms. I was surprised by the number of folks that weighed in but even more surprised by what people didn’t say. Not one person in the 33 comments spoke about their mother’s looks. Not even one “she is beautiful inside and out.” Instead, they mused about their mother’s talents, sacrifices, strengths, and wisdom. Now I know we don’t objectify our mothers like regular women. I also understand everyone tends to put their own mother on a pedestal. But these mothers are in fact, everyday women and our first and most important exposure to what it means to be female. So maybe we just need to remind the world of what they already know because almost everyone has a mother.

Don’t get me wrong - I don’t plan to stop shaving my legs or throw out all of my makeup, but I do plan to be more self-aware of any talk about personal appearance with both men and women. Instead, I choose to focus attention on what I see on the inside of people and their contributions. After all, we really are like our mothers: talented, strong and wise. Beauty fades but those things last forever.

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