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    Posted February 22, 2012 by
    Chicago, Illinois
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    What does beauty mean to you?

    Little Green

    I chose to upload this picture because it's one of that particular style. (It helps that I also like it.) By that I mean, taken with a camera, one arm out, both looking straight at it (by the way, I'm on the left). But I think it relates quite well to what I see as beautiful.

    Attractive is in magazines and advertisements. Attractive is what media and people try to homogenize with Barbie expectations and make-up. It doesn't work fully. That's why we date. If everyone believed full-heartedly in "attractive," so few would actually reproduce. Instead, what wins out, I like to think, is beauty.
    Beauty is the person who smiles honestly. A person can be attractive physically, but that doesn't make them beautiful. And beauty does not require stereotypical attractiveness.

    I grew up paranoid about my weight. I would run my hand between my legs to see if my thighs had any space. Was it more or less than yesterday? Do my jeans fit more or less than they used to? I never let anyone take pictures of me once I reached high school, and my isolation there made me think I was incapable of being beautiful. I still have those moments, of course. I have times when I do love every bit, and I'm still insecure about weight fluctuation. But I realized that I am more than just a sexual being.

    The sexualization of toys, games, advertisement. I think it's lead us to think that the only way we exist is as sexual objects. It's not if you're smart or caring or athletic. It's how you look. I think that's why I appreciate people who are well-dressed, but who have something else to say. Go nerdy, go vintage, go eclectic or athletic. Pick a suit and tie, pick your favorite sports jersey. I don't care how nice your lips look if there's nothing interesting coming from them.

    I've been to China, Europe and New Zealand. Honestly, my highest self-esteem came when I was in China, because I started to realize that the things I'm taught to idolize, as an American, can be drastically different from elsewhere. And as many times as I read in books about the old fashions of beauty (Victorian waistlines or Grecian paleness), seeing it before me with China's skin-lightening creams really hammered it home for me. So now I try to appreciate people for what they are telling me, the hobbies that show in the stains on their palms or smudges on their pants, the happy times that show in the crows feet. I try my hardest not to look at them and compare to some photoshopped model in my head, because, honestly, a real person is so much better.
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