Life Outside Social Media

Beauty Matters some extent. Self-esteem on a surface level always seems to come down to the concept of beauty, no matter how often we convince ourselves that it doesn't matter all that much. In reality, appearance almost always plays an initial role in everyday human interaction.

     Several months ago, I wrote about how the emphasis on outward beauty should be disregarded because women need to be valued and celebrated more for their intrinsic qualities. While I still firmly stand by my words, one thing I wish I addressed in that entry is the ludicrous beauty standards that society imposes on women (especially of color) and the inevitable impact of that pressure on their self-worth. In other words, I didn’t consider the potential impact of validation on women who may not feel beautiful in their own skin. While they should be empowered and elevated for who they truly are, they also sometimes need to hear that they’re beautiful when societal standards constantly make them feel like they’re not.

     As I’ve said before, I grew up being called pretty especially as a light-skinned little girl in the Philippines. Even until I got older, I would get complimented on my formerly tinted hair and my big eyes that "don’t make [me] look Asian.” It's not until recently when I realized that what people often find most beautiful about me are features that abide by these socially constructed beauty ideals. That is — white, Euro-centric beauty. I’d always get asked if I’m half-white or “Eurasian,” as if it’s impossible for a full Filipino to be beautiful unless she has European blood. For a while, compliments of that nature inspired me to enhance my “white features” by dyeing my hair platinum blonde and making my big eyes stand out even more with colored lenses.

     Gratefully, I eventually reached a moment when I looked at myself and didn’t like what I saw because it just wasn’t me. I absolutely despised being a complete blonde. I'd look back at my past selfies with blonde hair, colored contacts, and heavily contoured nose and cheekbones and realize that I’m just one of those girls who try to conform to the social media norms of what "pretty" is supposed to look like.

     Over the past year, I've worn significantly less makeup and dyed my hair back to my natural, raven-colored Asian locks, and to my satisfaction — I actually look like myself in a way that I haven't for a really long time. And I've loved it ever since. All of it — not just the white parts of me that people tend to flatter me for. I may not be conventionally beautiful to perhaps the majority of the people I've encountered, but this is the most I've ever looked and felt like myself and it's incredibly liberating. I don't receive nearly as much attention as I used to for my appearance, but that doesn't bother me one bit because it keeps me focused on who I actually am as an individual instead of the facade I used to present. I look around and see all these strikingly beautiful women surrounding me, and their distinctive ethnic features are the first to stand out to me instead of the white characteristics I used to long for. It's incredible to witness that once you embrace parts of you that everyone tends to neglect or even condemn, the more you feel liberated and at peace. The more you see beauty not only in yourself but in everyone else.

     I wish that at some point in every woman's life, she recognizes that, too.

Saturday, May 26, 2018



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