I attend a university where a vast majority of the student population is unnervingly attractive. Despite a respectable sense of self-worth, my inner self-critic can’t help but face insecurity when surrounded by beautiful, put-together men and women. Society’s standard of physical perfection seems to rise year after year, but it’s even harder to maintain satisfaction with your reflection when real, tangible people around you seem to fulfill all the physical attributes society deems ideal.
For women in particular, the pursuit of pretty can be an endless addiction. From an early age, we are reminded of the importance of being presentable and looking attractive. This idea is reinforced by the the bombardment of countless images showing stunning, long-limbed models in various states of airbrushed perfection. Everyone’s New Year resolution usually involves one intention that deals with carbs (or lack thereof). Ads detailing the many ways a revolutionary serum can reduce fine lines or reverse aging convey the implicit societal view that pretty belongs to the youthful. With all that scrutiny on our exteriors, it’s no wonder that more and more people suffer from eating disorders with each year.
Don’t get me wrong. I am a consumer of fashion and beauty, and I love dressing up and looking pretty. However, I also recognize that our looks fade with time and that basing our self-worth on our appearances can lead us down a dangerous path. It’s an ongoing struggle to look into a mirror without criticizing or wanting to change some part of me, but taking the brave step to invest in inner beauty produces the greatest return that no make-up can provide.
Feeding our inner beauty results in an inner radiance that spills over to enhance our outer beauty. Whether that means we partake in a new dance class, engage in healthier eating habits, or read an interesting novel, these actions make us more beautiful. They build confidence which fosters a newfound self-worth that can’t be faked like being pretty can. Pretty isn’t sustainable, and endeavoring to be pretty will only provide finite gratification. So in lieu of looking at our reflections and figuring out ways to look prettier, let’s focus on what makes us beautiful. Let’s identify the things that bring us joy, the experiences that fulfill us, and make choices to feed our inner beauty.