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Beauty beheld in my brown eyes

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CALOAs a young woman, one of the challenges I’ve had to face is society’s concept of beauty. After years of struggling to grasp it, I have made little progress and I know that it will be something I will have to continue to figure out for many years to come. But despite my lack of total understanding, I have come to a general acceptance of what beauty means to me.

I have learned it is impossible to live up to something that is so loosely defined. Society’s standards of physical beauty are ever-changing and often unrealistic to the point of being downright irrational. Flat stomach, but busty chest. Tall, but not too tall. Skinny, but curvy. Eyebrows perfectly plucked, but maintained to look natural.

The beauty business thrives off a fire that’s fed with a toxic fuel comprised of insecurities and the sabotage of self-confidence.

So many of my friends and peers, women especially, can be worried about how they look. I am no exception to this. It’s normal and expected to be conscious of your presentation to those around you.

It’s okay to want to look good. There is nothing wrong with getting your nails done or buying nice clothes. It’s important to not shame people for wanting to make themselves look nice.

If it makes you feel good to dress up, then by all means, dress up. But don’t do it to impress the guys on the street who follow you with their eyes as you walk by, or to get a look of approval from the women who have nothing better to do than see what you decided to wear today.

I do think it’s necessary to feel beautiful. Absolutely essential, in my opinion. But don’t do it for those who make you feel inferior for not looking a certain way. Feel beautiful for yourself, because the most important kind of beauty is confidence in yourself.

Furthermore, what can’t be emphasized enough is that there is so much more to life than physical beauty. Because really, how far can just looks go? How much can you really accomplish with the sole feature of a look that is “pleasing” to the eye?

Not much, I’d say.

Physical attractiveness is just noise. It is the first thing that catches your attention when you meet somebody new. It can be enticing and literally attract you toward someone. But once you speak to them, once you begin to explore the folds of their personality, it’s silent. If a person can’t attract you with anything but their physical appearance, there isn’t much to see.

When I think of the people I love, of course I see the physical attractiveness in them. But more so, I think of the way they make me feel. I think of the laughs I can’t hold back when I see that compressed smirk across class, trying to hold back its own giggles. I think of the hurt my old friend radiates when her long blonde locks pour down her cheek in an attempt to hide her face when she doesn’t want to talk about something painful. I think of the emotion submerged in his piercing blue eyes, saying all the things his mouth can’t.

I find people to look the prettiest when their face lights up with passion, or when their cheeks grow flushed with humbleness. Sometimes, you look the most becoming when the makeup is smeared down your face by your raw tears rather than perfectly in place. I think the best physical beauty is that which displays the depth and complexities of the inner beauty within.

Your body is simply a vessel to carry your being. Treat it well, keep it healthy, dress it up if you’d like. But its main purpose is as a holder for your soul, unique to you and only you — and that’s what is truly worth being gawked at.

When someone compliments me for the way I look, of course it’s flattering. But I want to be more than just nice to look at. I want to be clever and kind and talented and interesting. Beauty only takes you so far.

There’s too much emphasis on physical beauty, something so trivial in comparison to all the great phenomenons of life. The most meaningful moments are preserved by the memory of the sensations of happiness flooding your veins or the weight of heartache crushing your chest. Nobody remembers these days by the way their hair falls or how clear their skin was.

If someone calls you beautiful, accept the compliment graciously, but be cautious. Make sure that’s not all they can see.

Lakeridge High School senior Katie Calo is a regular columnist for The Review, and she can be reached at education@lakeoswegoreview.com.

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