Today I told a woman she is beautiful. Then I read an article, one of many that have been popping up online lately, about how horrible the word “beautiful” is. Apparently we aren’t supposed to tell women or young girls they are beautiful anymore because “beautiful” puts too much emphasis on outer beauty and we, as sophisticated feminist women, aren’t supposed to care about physical beauty or the beauty standards of society.
I agree, the standards of “beauty” in society are a crock. But it’s not the word that is broken, it is the meaning. I don’t think you can change anything by eliminating a word from your vocabulary. I think the way to change things, and it has been done many times in the history of language, is to change definition of the word.
To me beautiful isn’t about perfect skin, perfect makeup, or not wearing makeup. It isn’t about dress size, or bra size, or even brain size.
Being beautiful is about waking up every day in a world that tells you that you are not pretty enough, not smart enough, not good enough, or too pretty, too good, too smart, and still doing everything you can to hold your head high and keep being yourself. Life is a struggle, and making it through those struggles is what makes you beautiful.
It’s not about always feeling confident and comfortable in your own skin, because no one does, not 100% of the time. Anyone who says they do is lying. It’s about having those moments, or even days when you feel ugly, disgusting, stupid, awkward, ridiculous, but not letting them define your entire life.
Beautiful is being human. It’s having wonderful, admirable traits and terrible flaws. It’s about being a whole person. Being beautiful is about seeing the beauty in the world around you, in all things, not just the glorious glowing things.
Beautiful is being yourself, doing what makes you feel like you. Wear makeup, don’t wear makeup, spend hours in a salon, throw your hair in a ponytail, wear whatever clothes make you comfortable and feel good about you. Diet, don’t diet, whatever. Be healthy and happy in whatever size you are. Change what you want to change and don’t change anything just to please other people.
Beautiful is following your dreams, even when others tell you it is pointless. It’s about being creative, smart, and funny in your own unique way. It’s about not thinking your way to be a woman is the best way, the only way. It’s about letting women and girls choose their own path, their own unique way of being themselves and deciding what is feminine and beautiful to them.
I think every woman and girl is beautiful and I will keep using that word, no matter what anyone says and I don’t think it makes me less of a feminist or less of a woman.
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