By: Taylor H. (’21)
It’s no secret that each region of the world has their own beauty standards. For example, in Western Culture, it’s all about having curves, being tan, and having big lips. In stark contrast, beauty standards in Korea are focused on being skinny and pale and having big eyes (think Kpop idols). What’s considered beautiful in one region will often reflect what a culture values. For example, in Korea, girls are traditionally supposed to appear laid back and innocent, demonstrating the emphasis on a “cute” rather than sexy look. In Western Culture, however, the beauty standards are geared towards the ideal of “sexy”. Form fitting clothes, big hair, and glam makeup are the way to go. That said, the standards in the US are much more lenient, or at least seem to value diversity more by allowing for a greater variety of body types and faces.
One beauty standard isn’t better or worse than the rest. In the end, pointing out the differences between two examples of very different beauty standards just go to show that all of them are pointless. No matter how “diverse” the beauty standards can get, there is always going to be someone left out. Most of us don’t fit a category, so why try to squeeze ourselves into one?
For one thing, you can never please everyone’s standard of beauty. While having thick, dark eyebrows in Western Culture is valued, having those in Korea would be considered scary; straight, light colored eyebrows are the way to go. No matter how much you change yourself, there’s always going to be some beauty standard in the world that disapproves and does the opposite. This is why relying on a preconceived idea of what’s universally beautiful is wrong; you shouldn’t have to rely on people at all to tell you that you’re beautiful.
Secondly, even if did manage to follow beauty standards, it wouldn’t be for long because they’re always changing. What’s considered beautiful now could very well be what’s considered ‘ugly’ in a few years. For example, a couple years back, being stick thin with no curves was what was sought after. Now, curves are in. Taking it to the extreme, if you had plastic surgery to achieve a certain body type, your self confidence resting on societal-approval would plummet to the ground when the trend died out. Beauty standards constantly slip out of our reach. They are never truly obtainable.
Thirdly, we were born into our own skin a reason. When you strip away how you look, you effectually strip away a big part of your identity. One of the reasons we have “looks” is quite literally to be able to distinguish each other. If we all looked the same, no matter how beautiful, then there wouldn’t be any diversity or differences as individuals between us. We wouldn’t be able to tell each other apart!
Lastly, we should all love our bodies for how they look because these skins are temporary; no matter what you believe happens after death, the skin we live in eventually leaves us. It’s weird to think that some people make an entire career based on something that they had no control over and is temporary.
Looks were not created to please others; if we go back to the earliest humans, they were made for survival purposes. For example, hair is meant to keep us warm. To think that one hair color or texture is better than all the rest defeats the whole purpose of why hair was created in the first place. Looks just aren’t meant to be viewed that way. They’re supposed to serve a functional purpose.
Some might argue that looks were created to attract a mate. If this is the case, then we should focus on things like being healthy instead of dying our hair blond or microblading our eyebrows. Evolutionarily, that would be the more attractive thing to a partner: we are programmed to seek someone who is strong and can survive in their surroundings. So maybe it’s time to shift our focus onto things that are more practical, like becoming strong and healthy instead of focusing on the aesthetic aspects of how we look. We’ve already made a lot of progress on the issue of societal beauty, and I can only hope that we will continue to value individuality more and more.