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Why does our definition of beauty matter?

March 26, 2011

Every dictionary that I’ve come across sticks with one main definition of beauty; pleasing to the senses or mind (“beauty”). My question is whose senses or mind are we pleasing?
It’s funny because I was never considered a beautiful child, always cute, but never quite beautiful. I was mercilessly teased in elementary school for having a “ski-slope” nose and being “Danielle Duncan Doughnuts.” Don’t get me wrong, I had guys that thought I was cute in middle school, but nothing ever came of it. I never considered myself pretty or even attractive until at the end of eighth grade. Someone asked me, already at 5’8”, why I wasn’t a model. My answer, of course, was that I’m not beautiful enough. People continued to ask me this for years until I finally broke down. The only rational conclusion was to set-up an appointment to audition to be a model. This way, when I was turned down I could prove to everyone that I wasn’t pretty and they needed to quit saying it.
I went into the studio that recruits models and it was huge. There were little girls in frilly dresses and seven-year-old boys pouting with their hair shellacked back with copious amounts of gel. I was nervous. They had me fill out an almost five page long application about my characteristics like my weight and measurements and my hobbies. When they finally talked to me they took a couple of pictures and I never received a call back. Although I was going to prove that I was ugly I was devastated. I never thought that I could feel so rejected by something that I didn’t even want in the first place. After my experience I did some research. I found out that to be a model there is one other major component than just being tall and pretty. You had to be skinny. Now I was always thin, but after I did some research I found out that I was way too fat to be a model. At fourteen years old I was already at least fifteen pounds overweight for modeling. Now I’m 5’11” and people still approach me and say that I am very pretty and ask why I don’t model. The answer is simple, I’m too fat.
At 5’11” I am 148 pounds and I am twenty-five pounds overweight for modeling. It doesn’t matter how many times I have been told that I am pretty I will never be pretty enough to model. Somehow I don’t agree that my weight defines my beauty. Different industries have attached different values to the concept of beauty. The modeling and fashion industries and decided that I have to be a waif to model and to be beautiful. The television and movies seem to say that for me to beautiful I need to wear outfits that barely cover by body and that my body should jiggle in only the right places. The advertisers tell me that my “flaws” should be filled, expanded, or tightened and that aging is an unnatural process. We should all look like prepubescent little girls. I reject all of these notions.
At 5’11” and 148 lbs, I am beautiful. With my stomach that is not a washboard and my figure that is not a perfect hourglass I am beautiful. With my smile lines and “ski-slope” nose I am beautiful. Who is defining beauty for you?

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