From MTV video girls to the Kardashians, it's been a bumpy ride for beauty in the last few decades.
TV screens and magazine covers have been defining our everchanging concept of beauty for as long as most of us can remember - perhaps, and maybe most importantly, they've made sure to tell us exactly what does not qualify as beautiful, in no uncertain terms.
The problem? at beauty, a deeply personal concept, has been continually defined by factors outside of ourselves.
When most of us were growing up, there was a clear and recurrent version of beauty pushed on to us by big corporations and media outlets - the size-0 white girl was absolutely everywhere that had anything to do with fashion, hair and beauty. This kind of representation, while valid for a few, excluded and eliminated an immense diversity of women who were made to feel that if they did not match the billboards, they could never really embody beauty. That if their foundation shade wasn't on the counter at Superdrug or they couldn't fit into a single-digit dress size, they had simply missed the mark.
The message was clear; ‘beautiful’ existed only through the lenses of euro centricity and the male gaze - anything that didn't conform to these, was treated as wildly inferior.
So many of us, as children, internalized these messages and constantly tried to live up to an ideal that was never within our reach. How many of us, out of learned modesty, shied away from calling ourselves beautiful? How many of us stood in front of a mirror picking out flaws at an unreasonably young age? How many of us are still to this day, as adult women, in the process of learning to love our reflections?
And yet, seasons and times appear to have changed. We are in the dawn of a new era where the very meaning of beauty is being constantly redefined - this is perhaps the first time where we can all agree, with a degree of certainty, that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
With the rise of social media, there came a change to the playing field; the everyday woman was now not only in the limelight, but in control of where that light shone. And so, one by one, we rose up and began to revolutionize the very notion of what is beautiful. We changed the faces of entire industries and moved the narrative into a more inclusive, open and fundamentally real space. It's early days for this great revolution – but every step we take in the right direction represents the miles and miles of progress that lie ahead.
More than ever before, beauty is not an aesthetic - but a feeling! A confidence and security in one's sense of self. We are trailblazers for the next few generations of women who will know this powerful secret all too well. Who will see themselves represented and empowered at every stage. Who will feel seen. Who will know they are undoubtedly beautiful in their very own skin.
Just as we are.
Always remember, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Writer: Valentina Morales