Do I have to be rich in order to be beautiful?

… A thought that has recurred in my mind lately. The beauty traits valued by society today (big lips, big bum, slim and flat stomach, skinny but “curvy in the right places”, smooth, long, shiny hair, high cheekbones, flawless skin, sharp jawline, slim and straight nose and smooth, hairless skin) are a rare combination to obtain by birth.

More commonly, women spend money in order to achieve these things through surgery, treatments and makeup. Most of these enhancements are short term, and need to be repeated frequently. This is expensive, very expensive, yet women are expected to fulfil narrow standards.

In addition to surgery and treatments, other, more basal factors play a role. Skin care, medicinal treatments, diet and exercise also contribute to appearance, and can all be costly. So, is beauty a matter of class? 

Kim Kardashian is a reason for my thought. I like Kim – her audacity, her success and her style. She and her family, are doing something few would have the guts to do. She’s built a roaringly successful business and seems to be a wonderful mother.

Kim is beautiful, and extremely influential. Many want to look like her, but few know what it takes. I don’t know exactly what she’s had done, but a shortlist is nose, lips, bum, jaw, hairline and constant hair styling whether it’s extensions, colour or treatment.

While I think beauty is fun, and empowering to an extent, I frustrates me, that I, and many others, look at someone like Kim, and want to achieve that standard of beauty, but might not ever be able to. That kind of beauty is bought with a lot of money.

Kim is just one example, but a very clear one. Bella Hadid is another, one of the most successful models of 2017, and one of my favourites. I dare to say she would never have had the same career if she hadn’t had her nose and lips done. 

I’m absolutely not judging as I’m pro-self realisation, pro-plastic surgery and pro-beauty treatments. A person is free to do what they please with their body, and I think it can change a person’s life for the better. Always remember that if someone wants to change something on their body, it’s THEIR business, NOT yours. Good for you if you don’t want anything changed, but others might feel differently.

I haven’t had surgery, but I want to. As for treatments, I like to have my nails done, and I recently got eyelash extensions. Why do I do this? Because it makes me feel good, and it makes me feel prettier. It allows me to realise the image I have of myself. But yes, probably because beauty norms have harmed me, too.

However, it’s a fine balance between desiring the possibility of change, and not feeling beautiful enough. Not feeling like I’m enough is one of my worst feelings. I sometimes make a list of things I want to change with my appearance. The list leaves me feeling tired, poor and unhappy with myself. That’s when I think, how can anyone compete with the beauty that money buys?

Other days, when I don’t think about the list, I can feel good about my appearance as it is, sometimes I love it, sometimes I don’t care.

Society is slowly beginning to celebrate a wider range of beauty – different of sizes, skin colours, eyes, noses, hairs etc. Seeing a wide range of beauty in media and social media makes me feel better, for example Glossier’s Body Hero campaign. Still, norms hang tight, and the image of an airbrushed model lingers at the back of many women’s minds. 

I’m not normatively pretty or beautiful. As a teenager this was painful and actually very embarrassing at times. It doesn’t matter which ‘alternative’ compliments you get, as long as you’re not ‘pretty’ you’re nothing. Today, I know that I have a unique appearance. I treasure it and focus on what I like with myself. I’m actually happy that I’m not just a normative, plain, pretty girl, because I find that look very boring. 

I mean, I do have days when I.just.want.to.be.pretty. But getting over each of those days builds my self-esteem. It also helps me see the power of fashion. Looking pretty isn’t important in fashion. Looking interesting, elegant, classy, funky etc. matters more. I can’t be normatively pretty or beautiful, but I can always be fashion. 

Finally, I just think the way we’re supposed to be so comfortable with ourselves while at the same time being fed with images of unnaturally perfect women is very hypocritical and it makes me tired. At this point, I accept that my self-esteem fluctuates.

The waffling words you’ve just read form part of my cycle of thoughts on beauty. 

Filippa
Instagram @filippa.e

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