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Beauty,Spring 2005
Fourth Web Papers
On Serendip

Get Over It

Annabella Wood

Society as a whole does hold a standard of beauty by which all women are measured everyday throughout their lives. This is nothing new, and it will remain this way as long as people walk the Earth. Many women feel oppressed by this standard, and feel that somehow they are at a disadvantage because they don't measure up. They feel victimized by their peers and the males in society because of this nebulous idea of beauty that they think they must achieve in order to live a full life. What I have to say to them is, "Get over it!"

First off, it isn't anything in society that is making these women try to achieve a good rating on this scale of beauty. It is the women themselves that hold unrealistic expectations, and torture themselves to achieve them. As girls, we make the decision to try to understand and measure up to the standard or not. This is a very real choice. Mothers teach the standard to their daughters, what is expected of the girls as women, and how to measure well on the beauty scale. In this way, the mothers perpetuate the standard. The mothers aren't doing this to be mean to their daughters, they are teaching this because it is what they were taught by their mothers, and on and on through the generations until someone stops the insanity. The saddest part of this picture is that no one ever measures up to the standard of beauty that they think society is using. And so it causes them pain in their lives until they give it up.

There are two ways to bring about an end to this. First, and the one I hear most people mention, is to get society to drop this whole idea of a standard of beauty. This is like trying to get a cat to bark. You can train and train the cat. You can scold it, punish it, make it go without food and water, and the next time the cat makes a noise, it will meow again. That is because that is how the cat is wired. Likewise, people are attracted to beauty. If two people apply for a job, and all else is equal between them, chances are that the more beautiful one will get hired. That is because all people are wired to prefer beauty. They will be that way until there are no more people. It is fruitless to try to get society to not prefer beauty.

Another way to approach the end of women's persecution as a result of this beauty standard is to redefine beauty, and live by your own standard under this new definition. Find your own beauty, and develop that. When someone is doing that which they love, and they are feeling good about themselves an inner beauty emanates from them that can be neither hidden nor enhanced by make-up, or body shape or any of the things we women hurt ourselves with in order to be beautiful. The beauty of a person at peace with themselves, and/or happy with themselves is a beauty beyond comparison. And the lack of beauty emanating from a person who is unhappy about themselves is one that can not be overcome with any amount of manipulation of the body.

Women, as well as men, can use the fact that humans prefer beauty to motivate themselves to do what it takes to find their own happiness within themselves. If you want to be the most beautiful woman in the world, find your joy. Find what you like about yourself and develop it. Don't compare yourself with others. Compare yourself with yourself. Are you growing? Are you learning? Are you challenging yourself, and finding that which brings you joy? Are you living in the solution of your problems, rather than living in the problem of your problems? What this means is when you find a problem, do you wallow in what is wrong for an extended period of time, maybe wishing it were different? A good example would be this beauty thing. Do you wallow in the fact that there is a standard of beauty and you don't measure up? Or do you acknowledge that it is there, and define beauty for yourself, thereby motivating yourself to learn about yourself and become more beautiful from the inside out? This is how to live in the solution to the situation of the beauty standard.

Let's return to our job applicants. Let's have the same two applicants going for the job. All their credentials are equal, and one is clearly more physically beautiful than the other. The pretty one is relying on her good looks to land the job. But the less physically beautiful one is self confident, happy, and more interested in the job itself. She is actually interested in doing the job, in being helpful to the people involved in the company, and wants to learn the trade. Now which one do you think would get hired? My experience has been that the one with the better attitude gets the job. Let's face it, a happy person with a positive attitude, a can-do approach to life is much more beautiful than someone with only physical beauty.

Human's natural preference for beauty is a good thing, and it is here to stay. Our desire for beauty is a huge motivator moving us be kinder, more fair, and more merciful, for when we do these things we feel beautiful inside. It also motivates people to plant pretty flowers, and tend to the natural beauty of being earthlings. It gets us to clean up the house, and hang paintings on the wall, and to simply make the world more beautiful around us. There is no benefit to trying to get people to drop their desire for beauty, in fact there would be a tremendous price to pay should society become successful in the attempt.

To see the effects of losing the desire for beauty, check out how those who have given up the hope of having beauty in their lives live. It is a sad sight indeed. For example, check out folks living in ghettos who don't believe they can ever get out. They don't aspire to make their life beautiful, because they don't believe they can and as a result everything around them is unkempt and not beautiful. Flowers are not planted in the spring, trash is not put in trash cans. Without the hope of beauty, life becomes bleak.
Inadvertently, those women who struggle against society's standard of beauty and feel that it is society's job to dismantle the standard in order to stop the women's suffering are asking to live in a ghetto of the soul. And were they successful in getting society to not value beauty for beauty's sake, the physical world would become a bleak and ugly place in which to live.

By all means, if you know someone who is suffering under the weight of trying to measure up to what they believe to be society's standard of beauty, reach out to them. Help them learn to set their own realistic standard of beauty for themselves, and how to achieve it. If you are one of these people who are hurting yourselves in an attempt to measure up, find someone you trust and ask for help.

Our love of beauty is a wonderful thing. Our attempt to measure up to someone else's standard can be very harmful. It is how we are hurting ourselves. Instead of envying beautiful people, give thanks to them for decorating your life, and learn how to decorate your life for yourself. It is not society's job to make you feel beautiful. It is your job. Beauty is an inside job, and other people's opinions about your beauty have only the power you give them. Being beautiful is an ongoing do-it-yourself project.

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