Why We’re Wrong About Beauty

{By Brittany Sadler}

I didn’t really want to use the word beauty in the title of this article and not only because it took me an embarrassingly-as-an-English-major long time to remember how to spell it. This article isn’t girl-specific. And I didn’t want the title to mean only girls clicked the link. Beauty is a human quality and its much talked about distortion in our current society (possibly every society ever….) is an issue that affects both guys and girls.

medias view on men's beauty

It’s no secret that the media has distorted our ideas of beauty and reality beyond recognition.

But even knowing that, it still shapes the way we think. I can look at a magazine cover and tell myself it’s photo shopped, but that doesn’t actually stop me from wishing I looked like that. It’s a constant message – you’re not quite good enough, not quite pretty enough, not quite thin enough. And then there’s the “healthy” movement that’s often equally unhelpful – you’re not quite fit enough, you’re not quite active enough, you don’t have the perfect abs.

What makes these campaigns so successful is that they’re true.

We’re not perfect. No one is. That girl over there with the fantastic abs hates her nose. The guy with almost zero body fat hates his height. No one can check all the boxes and that’s why the media persists. We’re actually aiming for something that doesn’t exist – perfection.

What the media misses is that it’s ok to be imperfect.

We tell ourselves that we just want to change that one thing, that one part of how we look that we can’t stand. But it’s not actually true. If that one thing was changed, I guarantee you we would find one more thing that bothers us. I see myself doing this when I compare myself, not to the magazines, but to real people who look how I want to look. “If I could only look like her, she basically looks perfect. Except I’d want to keep my height and my own hair color”  or “Gosh, I wish I could look that good in a swimsuit. But I don’t want to look exactly like her, I still want to look like myself. Only…better.” We’re aiming for a standard that doesn’t actually exist. (No, it really doesn’t, I know you’re listing celebrities in your head. I promise they’re not perfect either.) So in the end, everyone falls short. And that can be devastating. We will never measure up. Although I’m still confused as to why God didn’t just make everyone perfectly drop-dead gorgeous, He obviously decided not to.  And that’s ok.

I promise you’re your own worst critic. And the least objective analyst of how you look. Part of this is just because you’re you. You only get to see yourself in a mirror or in a photo, neither of which are honest portrayals because part of beauty truly is personality. And that doesn’t come through in a mirror or a photo. Also, mirrors and photos show you yourself standing basically still and usually in positions that aren’t how you normally look (please tell me you don’t actually use those mirror poses in real life:). It’s showing you a snapshot of you, not you as you actually are. It is not real life.

Also you are the most attuned to whatever it is about yourself that you don’t like. Here’s a secret – NO ONE ELSE IS. You look at a photo, decide you hate how your chin looks, because that’s always the first thing you look at and proclaim that it’s a terrible photo, can we please delete it asap. Someone protests that it’s a good picture of you. They’re not blind. They just don’t decide whether you look good based solely on the 5 point checklist of your least favorite parts about yourself like you do.

We are the ones who have the most time to analyze ourselves. No one else cares that much. So we are hyper-attuned to our flaws and unusually blind to our good points. So next time someone says it’s a good picture of you, take a second and try to see what they’re seeing.

Beauty doesn’t have a single definition.

lies we believe about beauty

It really doesn’t. For even the most stunning celebrities out there, there is someone who doesn’t find them attractive. People just have different preferences – a fact that gets effectively hidden by the beauty nazi media. Case in point: I have had multiple guys tell me they were surprised to find out that some girls don’t prefer guys to be super muscular. They honestly thought that since that’s what the media portrays as the ideal of masculine beauty, that that’s what all girls preferred. FALSE. Some girls like muscular. Some girls like slim. Some like brunettes. Some prefer blondes. Some like a football body type. Some like a soccer body type. Some hate sports and couldn’t care less about what your body type is. I could literally go on forever because everyone like different stuff.  So it’s ok to be who you are. Take whatever your body type is and run with it. You don’t have to look like a Victoria’s Secret model or a Calvin Klein model to be beautiful. You really, really don’t.

Of course, we’re all going to struggle with this – the age-old human endeavor towards perfection, the age-old human problem of self-critique. It’s ok. It’s part of being human. Just understand that it’s not what defines you. In the end, physical beauty is external. No one will be a great friend to you just because you’re attractive. Your life would not magically be perfect if you looked perfect.

We’ve been placed on the earth for a purpose. We have a job to do. And “look pretty” is not it.*

I imagine that at the end of your life, you’re not going to look back and wish you had spent more time thinking about how you looked and beating yourself up over it.

So go forth boldly and don’t spend all your time listening to the voices in your head telling you that you don’t measure up. After all, God loves to work through imperfect vessels.

Maybe that’s why no one is perfect.

*Obviously I think celebrating our beauty can bring glory to God, I am, after all, writing on a fashion blog. However, my point is that “Be attractive” is not a commandment. Thank goodness. 

What do you think about beauty? Comment below, we love hearing from you!