In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Jo Swinson, suggested that mothers should refrain from telling their daughters that they’re beautiful and to stop talking about their physical looks. This is to help them realize that looks are not the important things in the world and that they are so much more than that. What this is supposed to achieve is noble, but what it delivers isn’t as much so.
The biggest problem with focusing on the outward appearance is not that people don’t focus to develop their personality, skills or traits. It may be so, but it certainly is not all. The biggest problem with current societies in their obsession with looks is that they limit and standardize what it means to be beautiful. Women who go on diets rarely do so because they believe that their physical appearance is the sole factor that defines their identity. Women who complain about having big pores, thick thighs or short eyelashes generally are not under the impression that these are what make up their whole being. They do so because they believe that there is one, very exclusive way of being beautiful. This may vary in different cultures and times, but women all around the world are told that they have to be this and that to be beautiful.
There is nothing wrong with women, or men, that want to be beautiful. It becomes wrong when you refuse to see your own beauty and pursue after what others have defined to be beautiful. There is no reason to pretend that beauty isn’t important, because it is. We simply must realize and admit that beauty looks different.
It’s wrong when society tells women that only women with BMI under certain rate is beautiful. It’s wrong when the boys tell girls that they aren’t as attractive if they don’t have big breasts. But it isn’t wrong when a husband tells a wife that she’s put on weight because he thinks she is just as beautiful, because no matter what she looks like, she’ll always be who she is and who she is a beautiful woman, worthy of praise and appreciation. It isn’t wrong when a daughter tells her mother that she’s still beautiful even after chemo therapy and losing her once lusciously rich hair, because beauty comes in different sizes and shapes, and she just rocks the bald look.
So instead of refraining from telling their daughters that they’re beautiful, mothers should tell them that they are beautiful because of who they are, and that what is defined as beauty is different for everyone. Mothers should tell their daughters that they are beautiful even when they hit puberty and get pimples, when their breasts don’t grow, when their hair isn’t smooth like the models’, when their teeth aren’t so straight and when they gain holiday weight. The point is to let them know that they are beautiful in their own right and as long as they embrace who they are. Their own beauty comes with other things that define who they are, such as personality, skills, traits, quirks, sense of humor or passion. In this sense, it’s ok to want to be beautiful.
Written by: Jess (Ye Seul) Kim