I can't fit in because the pretty girls won't let me play with them. Boys won't let me play with them because I'm a girl. The popular girls think they are the boss of me. People tell me I can't do things because I'm a girl. These statements were the consensus of a group of 8-12 year old girls I recently interviewed. I asked them all the same question: What's the hardest part about being a girl? Girls ages 13-20 were asked the same question and their responses were very much the same. Along with not fitting in and girls being mean, the older girls stated they are frustrated with the pressure to be a skewed version of "perfect" in today's media-driven society. Their candid answers reveal a universal frustration of not being accepted as unique individuals. Instead, they are thirsty for the validation as they struggle to reach this ideal standard that bombards their world every moment of the day. (See link to video below.)
When I was 8 years old I never thought to worry about looking a certain way and certainly never felt that not being pretty would stand in the way of being accepted as a friend. Brushing my hair and teeth, wearing clean clothes and shoes were the important factor in the looks department. There was a certain amount of the mean girl syndrome, but it usually was determined by who was nice, not who was the prettiest. The advancement of technology allows girls of all ages to become privy to a world of glamour, celebrities and applications that take girls to an unchartered territory that screams 'you must act and look a certain way to be validated.'
Trends come and go. The 1950's was an era of women with curves. Thigh gaps were not highly coveted (or even noticed) and girls looked healthy and beautiful. We are what we see and we believe what we see and read, therefore it must be true. This mindset sends girls into a panicked frenzy as they go to extreme measures to reach society's ideal standard of true beauty.
As a model, I see my image altered and edited. My skin is smoothed, stray hairs are put in their place or removed, my structure is defined and i'll be perfectly honest.... yes, I like the photos. What goes along with my mindset is the fact that I understand the editing is to enhance the photo. I am confident in myself and my imperfections. I see the best in myself and love myself for much more than my photo. I also realize that I want to achieve more out of life than a gold medal from society's acceptance. Now, if all girls had self confidence and felt inspired to be THEIR best this crazy issue of let's all look like a model would go out the window and we again could go back to what our preschool teachers and parents taught us from day one.... Be nice to one another, make friends and accept each other for who they are. We can preach all day long that size doesn't matter, beautiful hair doesn't matter, being popular doesn't matter, but the truth is, it will matter as long as girls lack the education and self-confidence to be who they WANT to be, not who they feel they HAVE to be.
This is my perspective on the trending idea of beautiful. Magazine covers are a form of art comprised of tools, a model that has spent an insane amount of time in hair, makeup and wardrobe with an end result of a vision that a small group of people created. Trust me, it's not real. I know better than anyone what I look like before the crew of artists do their magic. Just like an artists rendition of a seaside paradise, we can enjoy it's beauty for exactly what it is....a painting.
"True beauty is defined by one's soul" Lauren Galley