What Beauty is Not

By Madeline Brady, Regular ContributorJuly 13, 2015

I recently read an article that took me by surprise. It’s called, “Stop Trying to Convince Me I’m Beautiful” by Wendy Syfret, and it is exactly what I needed to hear.

Her essay states that she doesn’t find herself particularly beautiful, and she’s pretty tired of advertisements telling her that she is. Maybe she isn’t and is perfectly happy not being beautiful; imagine that! Advertising targets complex desires like power and respect when it comes to men, but for women it’s only beauty.

She argues that for women physical attractiveness too often equals comfort and happiness, but that our self worth is so much more than that.



image via pinterest.com

Oh, how easily I forget… As a big fan of Instagram, blogs, and fashion, I feel like all I see are beautiful women traveling and drinking fabulous cocktails and having these dreamy, curated lives. And even though I know so much of it is fake and only exists for the camera, I can’t help thinking that maybe this is what I’m missing; that if only I believed I was beautiful like they are, I would be as happy as they seem to be. Cliché, right?

But that’s where this article completely jolted me awake – particularly this line: “I worry about my intellectual worth, my originality, the strength of my voice, and the relevance of my vision.” Has my head really been so lost in the candy colored manicures and big beautiful lashes of the internet that I forgot about what is really important? Have I bought in so thoroughly to this one dimensional, beauty centric, anyone-can-be-InstaFamous mentality that I forgot to ask the big questions of my work and of myself

It is a constant battle to extricate myself from the walls that our society’s standards of beauty create. But every once in a while, I find myself outside of them and they look so small and inconsequential. When I am able to leave them behind, I suddenly remember that my life is not confined to making sure I am beautiful or that others find me attractive. I remember that there are things I value so much more than beauty: strength, intelligence, kindness, and presence.

Beauty is simply one quality among an ocean of attributes we should value and strive for.

Beauty is not happiness or courage or love even if we are so often told it is. Beauty is not the only thing that women care about or value in themselves. And it’s about time we stand up for that.

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About Madeline

MADELINE_BRADY_writer_bio_(1).jpgMadeline Brady is a soon-to-be recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College where she majored in English and Theater. She is looking forward to joining the real world, learning how to cook more than cereal, and living abroad after graduation. Her passions include
running, music, feminism, and spending way too much time on Instagram.
Every girl is a work in progress. If you need more help, click here.


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