A Personal Statement: Redefining Beauty Standards
The media has always dictated our beliefs of what beautiful looks like. It went from healthy curves to rail thin, from hemlines that dared to raise above the ankle to hems drastically above the knee. Stick figures with unrealistic proportions, beach blonde hair, and smiles that could make anyone swoon. When I was born, I wasn’t concerned about these things, by my own definition, I was pretty, sporty, a tomboy, I prided myself on being able to keep up with the best of them, climbing the stairs like they were mountains to be conquered, playing tag in the yard, dress up, and dolls.
Then when those things were replaced with teen magazines and I began to learn what pretty was based on the definition of society. I thought I fit in, I liked all the right musicians, wore all the right clothes, I was embodying the cookie cutter. It was around this time my world came crashing down. Dolls were replaced by needles, friends replaced by doctor's; appointment after appointment, hours spent in ER’s, hospital beds, offices. I wasn’t myself, I was fat from the steroids, scarred from the surgeries, I wasn’t pretty. I looked at my friends, my friends who were walking ahead of me, moving on, leaving me behind. They were gorgeous, with their athletic bodies and charming personalities and I was… Me. Awkward, ugly, trying to hide myself in bulky clothing. By the media’s definition I couldn’t be pretty, not if there was something wrong with me, with my body.
I turned towards magazines, counting every calorie, every step, obsessed with becoming thin like my friends, to be healthy like my friends, to not be ugly. As this war with my body raged on, I pretended to be happy, like I still belonged despite the fact that the world had told me from the time I was born that handicaps make you an outcast. I never imagined that my saving grace would come in the form of a TV show about models. From the moment it showed up on the hospital TV, I was enthralled by, well, modeling. One of my own friend's taught me that it doesn’t matter what age you are or shape you have. You can have scars and curves and still be beautiful. So I have taken up this mantle, pushing to change the face of beauty and show the world that disability is not a disadvantage, it's only a different ability.