Latest posts by Jenny O'Donnell (see all)
- Personal Trainer Gained 70 Pounds And A New Perspective
"The training may be the same, [but] the trainer is different."- September 14, 2016
- Claressa Shields: Flint Michigan’s New Hope for the 2016 Olympics
Shields Made HERstory as the first American Boxer to Win Two Gold Medals- August 21, 2016
- We all know Hillary. But Who’s Tim Kaine?
Hillary’s Pick for VP Has A Long History Fighting For Civil Rights.- July 29, 2016
“You are perfect just the way you are. That’s something that no one has ever told me.”
In a time where things seem to be only black or white, it’s easy to forget that there’s something beautiful in-between.
Racism is a systemic problem in our society, especially in light of recent headlines. But so often, within our own communities, we judge—and are judged—by how well we meet a certain standard of beauty.
When I came across this BuzzFeed video, it made me realize that this wasn’t just an issue of one race versus another; some of us are part of the problem. Intentionally or not, our grandparents, our parents, and even our friends have criticized us for not meeting Western beauty norms.
When I was 8 years old, my family moved to a suburban, middle-class, mostly White community. I remember instantly feeling out of place. I remember checking the box that said, “Multiracial/Ethnic” for standardized tests. And I remember wanting instead to check “White.”
White was a blanket term for the community I was surrounded by, for the half of me that wasn’t Guatemalan. But I desperately wanted to conform, to be like everyone else — to look like those girls with straight hair, slim bodies, and fair skin.
It’s taken me a while to accept that I’m beautiful in a culture that tells me the opposite—and I’m still not totally there yet.
I won’t pretend that I’ve been discriminated against based on how I look. But I’ve noticed how subtle changes in my appearance will draw praise, criticism, or confusion depending on how much I conform to Western beauty standards.
It’s uncomfortable to be labeled as something in-between– and sometimes, I feel like I don’t belong anywhere.
Too often in communities of color, men and women are looked down upon for embracing the physical qualities that reflect their heritage. Women get critical comments for wearing their natural hair. Young people in India, still affected by remnants of the caste system, are told to lighten their skin with harsh beauty products. And within Black, Hispanic and Asian cultures, those with darker skin are seen as “less than.”
It’s time to actively reject the notion of one standard of beauty. It’s time to stop giving in to illusions of perfection. And it’s time to stop telling others and ourselves that we’re not good enough.
The solution? It’s simple: Be aware of how you treat others…and yourself.
We must stop viewing people through a narrow lens colored by societal norms and expectations. There are no molds which we must fit into. There’s no rule that defines what it means to be beautiful.
I’m done pandering to society’s expectations. But that’s something easier said than done. If enough of us resist the pressure to be normalized, maybe we can change society’s limited definition of beauty. And maybe we can learn to embrace ourselves in all our beautiful imperfection, just as we are.