Society has created such a specific body type that is viewed as ideal. For the female population, our image of the “perfect” body is tall in stature, lean, small waistline, perfect complexion, and a larger bust size. As a result, many of us are incessantly critiquing our body shape, height, odd birthmarks, imperfect noses, body hair, ankle size in relation to our calves, muscle composition, and anything else we see in the mirror that we don’t deem as “attractive” or “desirable.”
Appearance is a constant focus in our society. Even if people don’t claim they care about how they look, we have created a culture where we need to look a certain way in certain situations. For instance, if we are offered a job interview, and show up looking disheveled, chances are we won’t be considered for that opportunity. If we are going to a gym to exercise, and enter in jeans and a sweater, there is no doubt we will get stared down. And, finally, if we go to a religious establishment, and dress inappropriately, we may be turned away. These are all scenarios where we can control our external appearance; and, in these situations, we feel validated in judging a person who doesn’t follow social and societal expectations.
However, there are many aspects of our appearance we can’t control. We are judged, ridiculed, made fun of, and even mocked. Some people have an imperfect nose; a large bump which already makes them feel insecure. The models dubbed the sexiest stars have straight, perfectly sized noses relative to their face. Some are born with physical defects; limb loss or impairment. And, some have genetic predispositions to be overweight or bigger-boned; and are not made to be slender or petite. But, unfortunately, when people clash with the “ideal” features our society depicts as attractive or beautiful, we tend to alienate them. The truth is, they most likely already feel self-doubt or lack confidence. Why would we go out of our way to make someone feel worse than they already may feel?
As stated in Women’s Health Magazine: “Lizzie Velazquez suffers from neonatal progeroid syndrome, an extremely rare condition that affects her heart, eyes, bones and ability to gain any weight. When she was still in high school, a YouTube video of her went viral, with commenters dubbing her the ‘world’s ugliest woman.’ So when Lizzie recently became the subject of a terrible viral meme, she decided to speak out. Lizzie took to Instagram to stand up not only for herself, but for all the real people used to make those not-so-funny memes. ‘No matter what we look like or what size we are, at the end of the day we are all human,’ she wrote in her post. ‘I ask that you keep that in mind the next time you see a viral meme of a random stranger. At the time you might find it hilarious but the human in the photo is probably feeling the exact opposite.”
Admittedly, I was guilty of making fun of someone who had no control of an aspect of her appearance. I was in middle school, and I sat next to a girl who had a glass eye. My friends and I had the audacity to call her a, “one-eyed cyclops.” As a middle schooler, I tried to vie for popularity and acceptance. For some reason, I thought by scrutinizing someone else for how they appeared was funny, and somehow made me “cooler.” Well, what I realize now is that I was cruel. I would do anything to go back to middle school. I would apologize to this girl, and tell her that I have learned the hard way that physical appearance is by no means a representation of someone’s beauty; that one’s integrity is far more significant.
There is a reason why every person is distinctive. That is what makes the world go round, and each quality we possess in our appearance exemplifies character and beauty. We need to continue to educate our youth, and embrace individuality. If we value character over appearance in our society, we can eliminate feelings of segregation or seclusion. Being unique should be looked upon as a positive, not a negative.
To the girl I made fun of in middle school… I am sorry. I will continue to use my voice in hopes to prevent others from making the same mistake I did.