I struggle with the term, beauty. It’s not the word itself that bothers me but rather the marketing ploy behind the idea of beauty. Like the infamous cliché says, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We all know this. But this statement only truly resonates when you strip away the superficial appeal from the term. Like art, what speaks to me may not speak to you. Society has done a great job of creating an illusion of what beauty looks like, what it smells like, what it feels like, its effect on others, its advantages– its power, that everyone succumbs to at one point or another. And for those who don’t possess these attractive qualities, consequently, becomes a lousy version of themselves; a mentality that is beneficial to consumerism.
So what do we find ourselves doing? We start buying into things to fill this void. We consume to level up. Hoping that external things will transform internal conditions. Hoping old spice will mist confidence under our armpits, or that make-up will make up for the insecurities we possess. Those who can’t afford high-end brands sacrifice obligations for the chance to appear worthy. All in the name of refinement. True beauty, to me, implies there is a correct beauty. An ideal, like perfection, that doesn’t exist. A lucid concept that is based on a state or quality of being or becoming. We strive for lucid ideas that cannot really be defined as a collective because it means so many things to different people. There is no common denominator that beauty can be reduced to. Other than an individual’s perception of one’s self. The more grounded a person is in themselves; who knows who they are, can make all the difference in how others perceive them. Genuine confidence is magnetic. Knowing who you are and sticking to your mission, vision, and values is attractive. Honesty incites an emotional response. And freedom inspires. All the things the word beauty tries to elude to but gets lost in the superficiality of the term.
I’ll keep it real. Sometimes I feel like shit. The struggle becomes, how do you choose yourself every day even when you are not the ideal choice for yourself at times. It’s an unsettling feeling when you are battling with yourself. My reflection becomes unimpressive. My lens distorted. And because I am unable to comfort myself, I look to societal standards as a guide to get myself back on track. But what ends up happening, my make-up becomes a mask that I forget to take off. False lashes turn into shutters; a means to create distance between you and I. Clothes become manipulators praying on your perception on how I want you to see me. My hairstyle, like a wand, will persuade the level of respect you’ll give me. I resort to these superficial things because it’s painless, and it yields instant results. Sometimes trivial pursuits like looking nice or things as mundane like eating cookie dough ice-cream is an easier sell than finding the cause of insecurity, knowing that it will take time.
Every day, I am reminded of what we as a society deem as “true beauty.” Collectively aware yet continually ignoring the fact that this idea is always changing. I have to be kind to myself when I find myself surrendering to societal expectations and fight for me to be myself; to be my ‘normal.’ Natural hair, who prefers worn down shoes, a sweater with jeans, a baseball cap, with a bare or beat face. Whatever I am that day, I am working on the internal self, because when I master self, I will be, in my own eyes, truly beautiful.