“You’re Beautiful Just The Way You Are”

Doesn’t the notion of “you’re beautiful just the way you are” only reinforce the importance of beauty for girls? Even when the purpose of the phrase is to undermine society’s concept of beauty? i.e you may not look the way photoshopped magazine models do, but never fear, you’re still beautiful–

On the surface, it’s a positive concept. You’re beautiful, and beauty’s a good thing. Forget what society deems beautiful–you, alone, in all your imperfections, are beautiful.

But then I wonder what the male equivalent of this sentiment is–you’re strong just the way you are? You’re buff just the way you are? You’re loud just the way you are? That’s not true–might be a pervasive gender trope, but being a man doesn’t mean you’re strong or buff or loud just the way you are. And in the face of that reality, of falling short of social expectations, what are men told? They’re beautiful just the way they are? Not quite. There just isn’t–not that I can think of ATM–a male equivalent.

Although “you’re beautiful” and spreading this message of “listen here, girls, we are all beautiful!” Is uplifting in a sense, it just ends up reinforcing the importance of beauty. That, as a female, you can’t sidestep the significance of beauty. That whether it’s constructed by some amorphous blob called “society” or by your friends or yourself, beauty is still paramount, still inextricably tied to worth, and that you must be beautiful because–because beauty is something we all have and must have. It’s cyclical.

At the same time, I’m not necessarily saying that appearance doesn’t matter. Or that beauty doesn’t wield a certain sort of overt and covert social power. I’m more critical of how “you’re beautiful just the way you are” only seems to ground the importance of beauty in a way that skews female far more than it does male…when the entire purpose is to step away from social constructions of beauty. By repeating the message, you’re only inadvertently overemphasizing the significance of beauty for girls and women.

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14 thoughts on ““You’re Beautiful Just The Way You Are”

  1. I have heard women describe a male friend or partner as a “beautiful man”, and it sounds fine – they are usually referring to his character (but not always). But I know what you mean. The phrase “You’re beautiful just the way you are” is certainly a comment not usually aimed at men. I’m not sure this tendency can be easily dismantled, however. The sad fact is, most likely due to societal norms, quite often girls and women seem to really “need” to hear that. We probably should look closer at the way we speak to girls as they are growing up.
    I think we all need to know or be reminded that we are beautiful in one way or another, but perhaps in ways that doesn’t point so immediately to physical features.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: You are perfect exactly as you are – SEO

  3. I like your take on having to say “your beautiful just the way you are” does in fact bring up how important our society sees beauty. But, I think this is said is because people want to feel accepted. I know sometimes I’ll have days where I feel not so put together but I know if someone tells me you look great that could change my whole mood. I think it’s okay to want to be beautiful but I don’t think it’s okay to strive to be beautiful to fit someone’s idea of beauty. Love your post!

    Like

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