Being a minority really fucks with your perception of beauty.
I'm convinced that my hair has a mind of its own.
I wore make up about 20 out of the roughly 200 days we lived abroad. And it felt wonderful and weird and wrong and lovely all at the same time.
*edit to clarify: I forgot to mention that I no longer struggle with any of these feelings but rather battled them primarily when I was a teenager and young adult. I assume that the internal battle was very similar to someone who was concerned about another personal feature such as weight, height, or being ‘feminine enough'.*
This is one of those posts that is difficult to start writing. This is one of those posts that end up very different than how they originally started. This is one of those posts that is terrifying to publish.
I wasn't sure how to start this post so I decided to just list the three things that popped to my mind when Kate first contacted me about this link-up. When I first watched the Try video I was truly touched. While the whole “you don't know you're incredibly beautiful” song and video has been done before, something about this video was different. And it reminded me a lot of John Legend's video for You & I (Nobody In The World), which was released the same week. Both videos encourage women and men to embrace their natural beauty just as other campaigns have done in the past.
But what struck me about these videos is how they embrace diversity, because beauty and diversity are so closely related in my mind. Both videos feature women from a range of races/ethnicities. Both feature women fighting/surviving cancer. Both feature women young and old. Both encourage women to feel comfortable in their own skin and stop trying or hoping to be different. In my opinion, John Legend's video is the more powerful of the two since it beautifully incorporates aspects of beauty that we often don't talk about such as mastectomies, vitiligo, and disabilities. It also includes voices from the LGBT community by featuring comedian Tig Notaro and actress Laverne Cox.
Yes, the messages of the songs are important, but in my opinion, the impacts of the videos are much stronger. As I mentioned before, being a minority (whatever that means to you) really fucks with perceptions of beauty. Like it or not, the mainstreamed message of beauty for women is feminine, thin, white, and able-bodied. And yes, that is beautiful! But it isn't the only kind of beautiful. This idea of beauty, however, is casually reinforced with almost every magazine we see in a checkout line, each commercial, TV show, movie, billboard, etc. It was very confusing as a child to not see women who look like me in the media. Or, when I did, they are labeled exotic. It is confusing as an adult to continue to see diversity in the media somewhat ignored, stereotyped, or photoshopped to look more like the mainstream ideal of beauty. It is confusing to see women conforming to the mainstream ideal of beauty. The most confusing, however, is when I'm asked why I do not do things (like straighten my hair) that conform to that mainstream ideal of beauty.
If I'm being honest, and apparently I am, it took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin in large part to what I mentioned above. And I know I'm not alone. One of the blog posts recognized this year at BlogHer14 was a piece titled: Sometimes, I Still Wish I Was White. One line of the post really struck me: “I never saw my Asian features as anything beautiful, but a hindrance to any kind of advancement. Once people saw that I was Asian, I felt like it was a huge strike against me. I felt foreign and exotic in my own home country.” Although the author self-identifies as being Asian, if you were to replace “Asian features” with “biracial features” you would have the tagline of my childhood and most of my time as a young adult.
I truly appreciate these videos showing a range (but obviously not all) of people. And giving girls, ladies, and women examples of beauty to which they can relate; showing me examples of beauty to which I can relate.
Don't Try So Hard Link-Up
Here's how the link-up works…
1. Let your picture take center stage on your blog and remember to include at least one thing that you find beautiful about yourself. (Use the hashtag #donttrysohardlinkup on Twitter & Instagram to share your pictures and posts!)
2. Follow your hosts and link-up your post!
3. Click around to others who have linked up and show them some positive feedback in the comment section. Do you love their eyes? Do they have cute freckles? Maybe they naturally have a beautiful glow! Let's soak the blogosphere in positive thought and self confidence for one day!
4. Sit back and remember that you don't have to try so hard. While it's nice to do our makeup and hair, wear trendy outfits, etc., it is so much more important to remember that you are beautiful just as you are! Cheers!