Beauty in the Eye of Society

Photo by Stephanie Zhang

We are all beautiful.”

“Everyone is beautiful, no matter what.”

“You don’t know how beautiful you are.”

Sound familiar? Phrases like these have been spreading like wildfire all over Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter and even in everyday life. But as lovely as these phrases may seem, they aren’t true. Not everyone is beautiful. Not all of us have a perfect figure, an amazing complexion or a pretty face. Not all of us have natural beauty. In fact, according to Do Something, a social change group for teens, only 5 percent of women naturally have a body type that is considered “beautiful” in mainstream media. So why are these phrases becoming so popular if they are blatantly false?

Some people choose to believe that “beautiful” means something entirely different in this case.

When used in this context, according to some people, “beautiful” essentially takes on the same meaning as “worthwhile” or “valuable.”

But does it really? Can the word “beauty” really be used to mean that? Beauty is defined in Google Definitions as “a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.” This definition says nothing of a person’s personality, kindness or sense of humor. It says absolutely nothing about the things that really matter, the qualities that make us who we are and the attributes that make us valuable. The definition of beauty shows that the word is truly all about looks and appearances. Therefore, a word praising appearances can’t possibly have the same meaning as a word praising people’s value.

“According to some people, ‘beautiful’ essentially takes on the same meaning as ‘worthwhile’ or ‘valuable.’

But does it really? Can the word ‘beauty’ really be used to mean that?”

So what happens when we spread these phrases? What happens is a negative underlying meaning spreads. By replacing the words “valuable” or “worthwhile” with “beautiful,” we equate these concepts to each other. Basically, these phrases end up implying beauty equals value. This puts pressure on women to try to look better because it tells them that if they aren’t beautiful, they aren’t valuable. And that’s just wrong. That’s the kind of message that causes negative body image, which can lead to far more serious issues, including low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders. It may seem like an exaggeration to say these phrases can have so much influence over people, but when they are constantly pushed at us by society, appearing on every social media multiple times a day, they can deeply affect us. According to Do Something, 91 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies and have resorted to dieting in order to obtain a more ideal weight. In addition, the website states that one in every 12 people will have an eating disorder at some point in his or her life in an attempt to obtain the body shape he or she wants. Clearly, the pressure is on for people to be beautiful, and these phrases that equate beauty to value are certainly not helping.

It is time to abolish these phrases. It is time to recognize that every human being, regardless of his or her beauty, is inherently valuable and absolutely worthwhile. Don’t say “Everyone is beautiful.” Say “Everyone is valuable,” or “Everyone is worthwhile,” or “Everyone is good enough to deserve love.” Don’t mention beauty. Beauty is nothing. Beauty does not define us. Beauty does not determine our value. And it’s high time we show society that we are more than just our looks. It’s time for society to recognize that our bodies are only vessels to carry the valuable, unique people inside of us.

Acumen writer Emily Worrell wrote this column. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the Acumen or the Acumen staff. You may reach Emily Worrel at

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