April 04, 2011

The Beauty Stereotype

How many of you think that you are ugly? Or perhaps not ugly, perhaps just not-that-pretty? Or well, perhaps now you think you are pretty. But back then when you were younger, did you think you were not pretty a.k.a ugly?? Did you wish you were born different? Prettier? Fairer? Darker? 

Well, I happened to be one of those kids. When I was a young cute girl (okay, delete the word cute), I always wanted to be prettier. I never felt pretty because I saw there were prettier women around me; my friends, the women on TV, the strangers who got noticed by lots of people when they walked in (well, perhaps they just wore weird clothes or ridiculous makeup).

I grew up in Indonesia, a country whose men adore fair skinned girls. And unluckily, I wasn’t born fair. I am tanned. And so, I hated being me because guys didn’t notice me when I was around. When I was at the Mall, I always found out that guys were attracted to fair women, and of course, pretty women. When there was a pretty woman passing by, those eyes would suddenly glance at her. It seemed as she had such magnetic superpower that made those males attracted to her.

I wanted to be one of those kinds of women, too. And so, what did I do? I bought cream for making skin fairer. I was plumb (and I am still, I guess), and so I would never mind dying myself in a painful diet just to get the body I wanted. And unfortunately, my diet failed. I couldn’t say no to chicken, chocolate, cake… Well, basically, I just love food.

But when I first arrived in Spain and I met the people here, they adore my skin. They will really do anything in return just to get the skin I have. They will burn themselves under the sun like a boiled crab just to get them a little darker. They will pay lots of money just to get into the machine and make their skin tanner. They will put cream to change their skin color. And yes, here they don’t sell cream for making your skin fairer. They sell cream for making your skin darker. I shouldn’t buy one of that cream, for sure.

And so, in my home country, I perhaps look ugly for some people. But here, I feel prettier because I know people adore me—or my skin. I don’t have to die myself under the sun just to change my skin color. Also, my skin color won’t change from time to time. It will always be tanned. But the people here, they will have fair skin in winter and darker skin in summer. Just like my husband whose hair turn to blonde in summer and black in winter. He’s a chameleon, I guess.

What I am trying to say is, who create such beauty stereotype? Yes, it’s the society itself. People see things differently, better things, because they want something different. In Indonesia, most of us are tanned. And so, when we see someone fair, it’s like “Woooooow!!!” And in Spain, most of them are fair, and they want to be different. They think tanned skin is prettier.

We may not realize that we ourselves create such stereotype to younger generation. This is a case:

Let’s say, Orchid has 2 daughters; Rose and Lily. Rose is tanned and she has curly hair, while Lily is fair and she has straight hair. One day, a relative comes to visit them. She sees Lily and she says, “You’re so pretty! You’re so tanned! Look at your hair! It’s so straight and soft!” But when she sees Rose, she doesn’t say anything. And again, Orchid says, “Yes, Lily is very pretty with her fair skin.”

Now, don’t you think it will affect Rose? For some reasons, she will directly think that tanned skin is prettier than fair skin. She will also think that straight hair is more beautiful than curly hair. She has just created the beauty stereotype for herself. Tanned = ugly; Fair = pretty. Curly = ugly; Straight = pretty.

And she will keep thinking about this for years. She will eventually hate herself for being tanned and curly, and she will do anything to change that. Some people, who aren’t satisfied with themselves, are even willing to do crazy operations to make them look prettier. Why? Because they cannot accept themselves. They think they are too fat or too thin. They think their lips are too thin or too thick. They think their nose is too wide or too flat. They think their boobs are too small or too big. And so much more!

That’s why, here I tell you, self acceptance is important. You have to forget about the beauty stereotype around you. Everyone is pretty. Everyone is unique. Everyone is perfect in her own way. If you don’t love yourself, who will? No one will love you more than you do. And also, trust me, if the guy you love thinks you aren’t as pretty as he wants you to be, don’t deal with him anymore. There are always people who think you are pretty as you are. Someone in this wide universe will even think you are the prettiest woman on the planet.

So from now on, accept who you are no matter how you look; whether you are tanned, whether you are fair, whether your hair is straight or whether it’s curly. You are beautiful just the way you are. You know why? Because God never makes mistakes. 

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