What is Beauty?

Portraits from the photo book Atlas of Beauty by Mihaela Noroc (Atlas of Beauty)

Yesterday, I watched a Youtube video with a bunch of Danish people. I noticed they all had strong jawlines, so I looked up why Europeans have strong jaw lines. I learned that our looks are dependent on survival traits. We have a society based on beauty and perfection, but it makes no sense because what is beauty and perfection? Our looks are all so different, because we all have very different ancestry and ethnic backgrounds that shape our evolution and genetics, aka our looks. Our noses, eyes, lips, jaw lines, height, width is all dependent on our ancestors’ environments. Whatever trait was needed to survive was what we adapted to… so why do we have one standard of beauty? How we define beauty? and honestly who cares?!

The idea of beauty is so complex, because it’s not only based on our own cultures. It’s also based on colonialism and white conquering. Every culture has one way that their people are being called ugly for things they can’t control, for genes that aren’t even part of their genetics, and for traits that don’t even help them survive in their environment. For example, in many Asian cultures a woman with white skin and larger eyes is seen as the most beautiful. In places like Africa and India, women go to lengths of bleaching their skin so it gets lighter. A transnational beauty company named Lancome sells “brightening soft cream” for $90 per ounce on their website. The idea of white beauty expands beyond our own horizons and affects hundreds and millions of women. These women are taught and grown up to believe they’re not beautiful by society’s standards, but maybe society was never right in the first place.

Lonely?

Note to readers: This is my fourth blog post, and sometimes I find it to hard to write these posts because I end up having more questions than answers. Sometimes these posts will be a bit jumbled and confusing, because they’re all my thoughts coming out. I’ll try to check my posts a week later to clarify anything vague or odd. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Have you been lonely? Being isolated more than ever during the pandemic, it’s easy to forget that there are people there for us, and even knowing there are people there for us isn’t always enough. Sometimes the hardest thing is to admit that we’re not okay or even to realize we’re not okay. Just because we’re okay most of the time doesn’t mean we’re really okay. I have to admit that for me the pandemic hasn’t been easy. In beginning it was okay, but as time went on it became harder to brush off the moments I wasn’t feeling so good. On top of that, being around the same people 24/7 and only them can cause some tension in home life.

I’m here to say that it’s okay if you’re not okay. The first step is to accept it so you can work on it. The second step is to reach out to the people who care about you. You may feel that no one cares about you, but that’s not true. A quote that gives the best answer for this feeling is “the world is filled with lonely people afraid to make the first move”(Green Book). A lot of times there are a lot of people who love and care for you, but they might not feel it’s right to get involved or reach out, so it’s okay to reach out first and let some one know how you’re feeling.

Another reason you don’t want to reach out may be because you feel no one will understand. That maybe true, but maybe understanding isn’t always necessary to make you feel better and less alone. Sometimes all you need is someone who will listen to your pain and be there for you. Just sitting with someone in silence and being there for them makes a huge difference. I can’t explain why, I just know that many would agree. Both of these steps are extremely difficult and scary to accept and pursue. It is important to keep in mind that it takes strength not weakness to do these steps, so remember to never feel ashamed for needing to pursue these steps.

If you’re feeling alone, scared, lost, or all of the above, you’re not really alone. There’s a whole world of (7 billion!) lonely people just too afraid to make the first move. In this loneliness, sometimes all you can see is what’s right in front of your nose, so get out of your comfort zone. Talk to someone, maybe that’s a family member, friend, or stranger, but don’t allow that fear to paralyze you and stay alone with you’re feelings. A good start would be when you get that how are you doing text, just be honest and say not too well. Find the courage to admit how you’re feeling and don’t let yourself be alone, especially when there are billions of people to reach out to.

If you’re not okay and need mental health support, that’s okay. You are not weak for needing help. It takes bravery and courage to admit you need help, so never feel afraid or ashamed to. Here are some important numbers if you need them:

loveisrespect: 1-866-331-9474.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (24/7)

The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386 (24/7)

National Eating Disorder Association: 1-800-931-2237.

Crisis Text Line: Text SUPPORT to 741-741.

National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264.

Is shutting down the solution?

It’s been over six months since we’ve been in this lockdown. It definitely hasn’t been easy, especially since we haven’t seen any signs of change from our government. First they said stay inside, it’ll get better. Then wear masks, it’ll get better. News flash that was over six months ago and nothing has changed! I get it, we want to put public safety first, but how far does public safety go when most of our freedoms are completely stripped from us? If a vaccine isn’t predicted to come for another couple years, are we really going to live like this for years?

Firstly, I’m not saying we should open up everything completely and go back to life before Covid, but should we really being doing the same thing we have been for 6 months that clearly hasn’t been working, wouldn’t some call that insanity? Many will blame Trump and say it’s all his fault, but honestly it’s not completely. Take California for example, our governor has taken very strict precautions for months and our cases are still very high, so maybe closing up everything isn’t the solution?

Secondly, we’ve been focusing so much on the lives lost due to Covid, but not the ones lost by the Covid shutdown. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses have gone out of business. People have been filing for bankruptcy, unemployment, etc. Women of color(WOC) and the LGBTQ+ community are among those who are at greater risk. Many WOC families depend on the female as the main breadwinner. With many who have lost their job (especially since WOC make up a huge percentage of our labor force), these families are in more need than ever. Also, there are many LGBTQ+ members stuck home with their homophobic families. They’re being emotionally and even physically abused. It can be terrifying being in your own home unwelcome but also unable to escape. Depression, drug overdose, and suicide rates have sky-rocketed. Does anyone wonder if these rates supersede the death rate? And which rates weigh more importance?

In the beginning, it made sense to shut everything due to our lack of knowledge to this virus, but it just doesn’t anymore. People need to go work, children need to go to school, and with the proper precautions. If proper precautions are made and those who are more at risk stay at home (with accommodations to their situation), then we can be keeping people safe and getting back to normalcy. I’m not saying this just to be selfish and because I’m bored. I’m bringing this up, because just as much as the shutdown saves lives, it takes lives too.

True Happiness

I will be starting my discussions with a heavy topic. Let’s just dive right in instead of tapping the water with our toes! Before I begin, I would love to recommend an amazing book: The Four Agreements. I have not finished the book, but I’m in the process of reading it and it’s enlightening. My opinions have been developed from this book, videos, articles, and just self-research.

We all have this idea of perfection. If I was this height, or if my nose was that way or if I became this profession, etc I would be happy. We have these decided ideas of what beauty, success, and happiness is, but we never got to choose these criteria for ourselves– they were decided for us. But why should there be one standard of beauty, success, and happiness? Who became rich and decided this is true happiness, and who followed that idea? Clearly, someone who wasn’t truly happy. Because if you are truly happy, you don’t have to look for it and you won’t be finding it through external means (anything beyond ourselves). Sure, having money eases some worries, but having an excess amount of money just brings on more worry and stress. The problem with this idea of happiness is that it’s insatiable. Once you get that thing you desire, you just keep going to the next step up. You keep telling yourself over and over again”if I just get this one more thing then I’ll be happy .” Till one day you realize, you’re not happy. In conclusion, money, success, fame, beauty, etc. do not bring true happiness.

What we see in others is just a reflection of ourselves. When we judge another person for something, it’s actually what we judge ourselves for and we’re projecting that on the people around us. In essence, the people around us are a mirror of ourselves. But what we judge ourselves and others for are for things that have been indoctrinated into our minds. This goes into the one-size fits all culture of our society. This means that society teaches one model of how everyone needs to look, act, and everything in between. But who ever said society was right? Everyone, because they just followed what the next person followed. We’re all just the blind following the blind, but it’s time to allow ourselves to be happy with the way we look, act, and everything in between, because there’s no one way of looking, behaving, etc that is the best. Once we reach true acceptance of ourselves for whatever ways we are, we will stop judging others too and we will be happier.

To keep this from going on much longer, I will conclude with the idea that happiness comes from inner peace. Inner peace comes from accepting and being our authentic selves. Following the crowd, being who are friends, parents, and teachers want us to be will not give us happiness. So find you who you truly are, what you love to do, and which people encourage you to be who you are without judgement. That will be true happiness.

On the next post, I will philosophizing why being our true selves brings us happiness. Feel free to leave any comments if you agree or disagree with this post and everything in between. I hope this post opened up your mind and made you think a bit.