A Project of The Women Worldwide Initiative
This article written by Nicole Forrester (Olympian High Jumper, Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist) originally appeared on HuffingtonPost.com on September 9, 2011.
Recently, The Body Shop released Ruby, an alternative version of beauty. However, they were forced to remove this advertisement after receiving a cease and desist order from Mattel.
The truth is that things like dolls, beauty magazines, videos and television are shaping the way women and men view beauty. Young girls and women are comparing themselves to an airbrushed opted photo, while men are taught to value beauty greater than the character content of a woman. Very sad.
While some girls feel magazines make them feel fat and short, for me, growing up they made me feel extremely self-conscious about how tall and skinny I was. Growing up, I was a gangly, emaciated-looking, four-eyed girl. I was extremely skinny and try as I may, I couldn't gain weight to save my life. (Honestly, the skinny images of models displayed in magazines can't compare with just how skinny I was.) I hated it.
I didn't see anything or anyone that looked like me as a standard of beauty.
To add to my childhood disillusion of beauty, flipping through a magazine and finding an advertisement of an African-American or Asian model was as likely as finding a minority Santa Claus at Christmastime. Thankfully, at least there was Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks and Benetton ads to give me some sense of hope that minorities could be included in society's standard of beauty.
This topic of beauty is actually an ironic topic for me, given I use to model. Interestingly, what I gained most from modeling was how to walk tall, embracing my height and skinny frame. (Apparently, that was something lauded in the world of modeling.) And, then sports entered my world and really took care of the rest. Sports taught me that being different was good, and I appreciated it in others. It also taught me how to be self-confident and how to care less about the opinions of others. And I learned that true beauty begins on the inside.
Funny enough, society's standards of beauty is always changing as if it were the newest season's fashion collection.
I mean it was only a hundred years ago where a fair complexion, thin lips and a full body was a symbol of beauty in the Western world. Now, we've emerged to a time where women are spray tanning for a darker complexion, starving themselves and injecting their lips with collagen to have fuller lips. Who's defining your standard of beauty?
I dream of a day where defining beauty isn't found in a Kim Kardashian reality television show, but rather as something seen as radiating from the inside out. I wonder what a beauty pageant like that would look like?
Beauty can't only be skin deep? Or is it?
As per Ruby, maybe Mattel may get inspired to make a Barbie more representative of the average person. And while they're at it they should go ahead and make a gangly, awkward, four-eyed version as well.
You are beautiful.