The Taiwanese Queen of Copywriting XinPing Li once said something very clever that goes like: No tree is on a diet and no animal is depressed because they think they’re ugly. The obsession with weight and looks is a purely human absurdity.
I once saw a picture of a duck similar to this, but sort of ugly. It cracked me up because she (let’s call it a she) was so weird looking, so shocking and so unique. She doesn’t care what I think of her though. She just holds her head up high and serenade the waters with as much dignity, ease and grace as any other common-looking duck. And in that moment, I felt ridiculous for ridiculing her.
Because Nature made her. God made her. Who am I to mock the creation of Nature and God, and one of their most unique and playful creations that I know of?
I seem to not realize the range of beauty that’s available in this world. Would you agree that on any day, the majority of beautiful beings we most frequently get to see are models and movie stars? Unless you have children or you are very in love, have you seen someone in person today, someone whom you know, whom you registered as “beautiful”? Think of the people you love, do you see them as beautiful?
This image is a template of what the women who become models and famous on the internet look like. It is very specific: light airy bangs, colored hair, flawless skin, straight and thick eyebrows, contact lenses, pointed chin, small straight nose with small nostrils, m-shaped top lip, full bottom lip, etc. It is a popular look and one to aspire to if you wish to get attention on social media.
Image: Leumas To / theinitium.com
I checked in the mirror and confirm that I don’t have a single one of the traits in this template. If that face means beautiful, well, then I’m never gonna be beautiful. But I can be a bit pretty sometimes, on a good day. The subtext of this self-talk: I’m second-class.
But wait, why adopt a definition of beautiful so narrow that you can’t even qualify yourself for it?
I think we all inherently know that we are each special. I know that I know, in theory, but not always in practice. When you look at images of models and movie stars, or when you look at yourself in the mirror, do you sometimes feel a tinge of disappointment? That moment you silently sigh to yourself, “Well, this is all I got” and put yourself into a “not beautiful” category?
Not all of us hate the way we look but we may have discounted ourselves and we didn’t even know it. There is power in recognizing that we are different, and OK, from what society mostly defines as beautiful. That’s a good place to start. Let’s see if instead of lowering ourselves into second-class, we use that moment to pivot ourselves towards a more generous and true definition of beautiful.