Society’s standards should not define beauty

By Danielle Silvia

When I look at myself in the mirror, I am amazed, not by my beauty or by how many pimples are covering my face, but by the experiences my body has carried me through for the past 20 years of my life. I know it sounds convoluted, but I am grateful for the legs that have carried me everywhere I’ve ever ventured, the hands that have held those I love and the eyes that have seen everything that I have ever witnessed.

Students should not be judged based on physical appearance. (Flickr)

The human body, in my opinion, is more than just a shell. It is how we define ourselves and what has literally carried us since birth. As a young adult, it has become apparent to me that many cannot see this truth, particularly young women.

On social media and in face-to-face interactions, society has adopted a culture of defining beauty in terms of physical attraction. It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that true beauty comes from the inside. However, most people’s actions reflect ignorance of this lesson. Too many people place emphasis on their physical appearance and attractiveness, especially in the eyes of their peers. Most comments on social media revolve around how we pose, how perfect our hair is styled, how much makeup we wear, whether our outfit is cute and how much we appear to be physically fit.

I won’t lie, whenever I receive a comment from someone complimenting my figure or my outfit, I feel flattered. I think that’s all part of human nature. When people tell us we look good, we feel good. It becomes a problem, however, when physical appearance becomes an obsession for girls. Some girls will do whatever it takes to fit in, whether that is eating one protein bar a day to squeeze into that size two pair of shorts or straightening their hair so often that the tips begin to feel like hay. In a world where we are constantly emphasizing individuality, our society has passively enforced individuals to want to look, sound and act like everyone else.

After a difficult first year transition to college, my appetite changed, and I lost weight. When I went home the summer after freshmen year, old friends swarmed me like a pack of bees, as if I was an elusive comb of honey. Friends who seemed to not care about my physical appearance before began to make comments. Statements such as, “You’re so thin now,” or, “You look amazing!” seemed well intended and maybe even lighthearted at first, but these comments eventually gnawed away at me. If I looked so fabulous now, in the present, what had changed in the span of one year? Did I look ugly before?

It was the first time in my life that I felt like no one really understood me. I thought that the people who cared for me the most loved me for who I was on the inside, and the outside was just a mere canvas. My attitude changed toward my body, and I became healthier. I practiced loving myself, and began casting away hurtful comments. My legs carried me through thick and thin, my hands guided me through the dark tunnel of my journey and my eyes opened themselves to a new revelation. This period of my life, where I truly felt self-fulfilled for the first time, was also when I became an adult.

It is hard being an adult and not focusing on societal standards of beauty, and it’s even harder when people are constantly making comments, negative or positive, about the way you look. I’ve learned that the people who truly see you for you, and not as some physical object, are those who really matter in life. I have also grown to learn that loving yourself and accepting yourself for who you are is the most noble thing you will ever do.

So, eat that candy bar, sing your lungs out to your favorite song, run a mile and smile. Wake up every morning not asking yourself, “What can I do to be better?” but rather, “What can I do to be a better me?”

Students share opinions around campus
“How important has physical appearance become in society?”

Zéna Merhi, a senior early childhood education and music double major. (Brielle Bryan/Opinions Editor)

“It has become very prevalent. Beauty bloggers are put on a pedestal.”

Javier Nicasio, a graduate student studying urban and elementary education. (Brielle Bryan/Opinions Editor)

“With social media, everyone is looking at everyone, and we’re all trying to work for likes.”