The Oxford Dictionary defines the word beautiful as ‘pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically’.
But in practice, the society has created its own stereotyped and biased definition of beauty and beautiful.
Since times immemorial, we have been systematically moulded into believing the set notions of beauty.
For generations, for a woman to be called as beautiful, she was required to have a slender build, a generous bosom and a narrow waist in addition to being fair. A defined jawline, high and sharp cheekbones, an angular nose and the lips full, but not distractingly so. The eyes, ideally large and bright. Hair to be long, thick, and flowing. Symmetry was desired.
As for men, they were supposed to be muscular, toned, shaped and possess other masculine characteristics.
The ones differing from these was termed unattractive.
But who does one decide what’s pretty and what's not? Who has written these codes of beauty?
Why is ‘white’ considered beautiful, whereas, ‘black’ invites despise?
Why are we made to fit in this riddle of the ideal standards of beauty which is, in fact, nothing but a social construct?
These questions wandered in the air for long before gaining real importance. With rebellion by thousands over the past decades, the definition of beauty has continued to expand, making room for acceptance and change.
Today the world around us is transforming.
Various movements and years of struggles have now paved the way for men/women of all colors and sizes. Women with vitiligo, bald men, and women, men and women with grey hair and wrinkles are all carving a niche by breaking the boundaries of “beautiful”.
CHANTELLE WHITNEY BROWN- YOUNG, professionally known as WINNIE HARLOW posted a pic on her Instagram in 2013 captioned –
“Love yourself, and the rest will follow...👸❤️ #chantellewinnie #vitiligo #inmyskiniwin”
She is a Canadian fashion model and public speaker on the skin condition vitiligo. She broke all clutches made by society and made a place for herself in the fashion industry. Who better than her to emphasize that different is beautiful, you and me, we all are beautiful.
Age is just a number and JACKY O’SHAUGHNESSY is the living proof. The 60+ supermodel is a fearless and bold woman. She is an educator of body-positivity and empowers women around the globe. She says,“The best positive body image is to never compare yourself to anyone ever; it drains you, limits you, and robs you.”
The new beautiful, BRUNETTE MOFFY is a cross-eyed model. She suffers from a condition called strabismus. The hazel-eyed model is tall and stunning, her eyes add a naturally bored effect which is her USP. Moffy is all set to revolutionize the fashion industry. She spreads confidence wherever she sets her foot.
RAIN DOVE DUBILEWSKI is an American model, actor, and activist. As a gender-nonconforming model, her ability to model for both male and female roles is another kind of activism. She is breaking gender stereotypes and binary laws as a fashionista. Her Instagram bio delivers a very powerful message to the masses.
I am I. No labels. No limits.
Representing "human" in fashion, film & activism.
Come as You are. Welcome. I Love You. #EducateDontHate
A retired marine corporal turned model, ALEX MINSKY, is sure to make your heart skip a beat.
He lost his right leg in an accident and was reportedly in a coma for more than a month. As Arthur Burt said, “Nothing happens until the pain of remaining the same outweighs the pain of change.”, Alex has dealt with PTSD and alcoholism soon found peace in exercise. Today he is a muscular hottie welcomed by the fashion industry with open arms.
These are some examples out of the many who have broken the conventional codes created by society. We have become more welcoming because people have demanded it, protested for it, and used the bully pulpit of social media to shame beauty’s gatekeepers into opening the doors wider.
We are moving toward a culture of big-tent beauty. One in which everyone is welcome. Everyone is beautiful.
In the 21st century, what makes us beautiful is our drive to be better versions of ourselves, our courage that allows us to shatter the status quo, our kindness that makes us empathetic to the plight of others, and our uniqueness that strives to create its place in the world.
So while all the traditional standards may define our body based on several things, but it is the new and expanded version of the term beautiful that allows us to be real.
However, although we are in a better place than we were a generation ago, we have not arrived at utopia yet.
Many of the clubbiest realms of beauty still don’t include larger women, disabled ones, or senior citizens.
And thus, perhaps the way to utopia is by rewriting the definition of the word itself to better reflect how we’ve come to understand it—as something more than an aesthetic pleasure.
This, will help us break the boundaries of beautiful in it's true sense.