Wednesday, April 11, 2012
What beauty means to me

 

When CNN.com’s Health and Living writers gathered to brainstorm story ideas for a series on beauty, we figured it would be quick and easy … then we started talking.

 

Our writers came up with tons of angles to cover -- how the brain determines what’s beautiful; the media’s role in defining beauty; body image issues for kids and teens; the growing diet industry for men; learning to love your beauty quirks; and whether or not there would ever be another all-American beauty.

 

In the end, we launched a six-week series. We called it "Perceptions of Beauty."

 

We also knew we couldn't truly try to define beauty without asking our readers. In two weeks we received more than 90 responses to our question: What does beauty mean to you?

 

From there, we partnered 10 iReporters from around the world, connected them via Skype and asked them to discuss beauty in their culture:

 

Holly Fulger and Emmaly Manchanthasouk enjoy following the latest trends in makeup and fashion but feel doing so undermines the way people see them. "I want to be able to be a woman and be perceived as powerful and sexy," Fulger said.

 

Jessica Keown and Amy Cunningham have traveled the world and learned quickly that beauty means something different in every place they visit.

 

Monika Settergren and Shala Crawford both suffered because they didn't have what society told them was the ideal body type as teenagers. "I don't always wake up feeling pretty, and I have to tell myself that I am," Crawford shared.

 

Saddaf Hasseeb and Nyasha Chikwekwete bonded over their families' cultural definitions of beauty. Hasseeb's family is from Afghanistan and her darker skin wasn't considered beautiful until she moved to California. Chikwekwete was considered too thin in her native Zimbabwe, but in America she's just right.

 

And Taeun Satya Lee and Rummel Pinera discussed the beauty of the soul and how what's on the inside is more important than anything on the outside. "The whole iReport experience was mesmerizing and highly rewarding," Satya Lee wrote CNN in an e-mail after his discussion with Pinera. "My hope is our message will resonate with sonorous beauty of the truest kind."

 

The conversations were indeed thought-provoking and enlightening. They showed that in every country, in every city, to every person, beauty means something different. And that's OK by us.

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