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I personally think that the term ‘beauty’ has been misconstrued by external influences, whether it is the media, or personal acquaintances; girls and women all over the world have the wrong idea of what real beauty is all about. I have my own idea as to what I think real beauty is and it is a view that is probably shared by many. However - how many of us myself included, take charge of what we know to be right and work with it? As cliché as it sounds I believe that real beauty comes from within - when you are a beautiful person on the inside it radiates and makes you a beautiful person on the outside. ‘Beauty’ according to wordnetweb is defined as ‘the qualities that give pleasure to the senses’. When I read that I liked it - so simple, yet so profound.

Beauty in essence incorporates qualities that give pleasure to all senses. Unfortunately we live in a very superficial world where girls, women, and possibly the men in our lives all focus on exterior beauty which in essence only encompasses one – the sense of sight! It is possible that there are exceptions, but most societies tend to place excessive value in outward, observable features. Other traits such as honesty, kindness, good morals, or firm commitment to principles and ideals, tend to be secondary.

Research shows that messages girls receive from the media can damage their feelings of self-worth and negatively affect their behavior. In a Neilson Poll (2004) more than one in four girls surveyed feel the media pressure them to have a perfect body. As a result, girls question their own beauty. Between 50 and 70 percent of girls of normal weight believe they are overweight, and as a result this is what happens:

  1. One-third of all girls in grades nine to 12 think they are overweight, and 60 percent are trying to lose weight.

  2. Studies show that 57 percent of girls have fasted, gone on diets, used food substitutes, or smoked more cigarettes to lose weight.

  3. In the last 20 years, the incidence of anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that stems from psychological distress, has doubled.

  4. More than 90 percent of girls (15 to 17 years) want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.

  5. Nearly a quarter would consider undergoing plastic surgery.

  6. 13 percent of girls acknowledge having an eating disorder.(

Low self-esteem is like a disease and is associated with problems as substance-related abuse, depression, or eating disorders: it hurts relationships and damages performance in most areas of life. I am going to be quite frank: If you have to starve yourself, make yourself be sick, put yourself into debt to keep up your appearances or alternatively spend a lot of time working on your outside appearance just to please people - then there is something very wrong with this picture. Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with looking beautiful, and I am one of the first to appreciate or comment about physical beauty if it is warranted, but let’s remember the definition of beauty: qualities that please ALL senses: it is MORE than just what people see. Our lives shouldn’t be consumed with trying to work on just one aspect, but should be looking at working on ourselves as a whole.

Emily Dickinson put it best: ‘Beauty is not caused it is’. Beauty is holistic in that it embraces the person that you are on the inside and transforms who you are on the outside. As a person you need to accept who you are and be comfortable and content with who that person is without bowing to pressures of the outside world.

There are always going to be people smarter, better looking, and more gifted than you but at the same time, there will always be people who will look at you and feel inferior themselves. It’s a two way street - how a person sees themself is an important component of self-esteem. And, more than we realize we have the ability to shape others self worth through our words, actions and even how we look at them.

You are valuable! Regardless of whatever weaknesses and faults that you have you were put here on this earth for a reason. As you begin your search for real beauty look beyond what you see in the mirror. The older you get the more you will understand that your quest for ‘beauty’ in the physical sense will never end, not until you accept who you are and learn to love yourself and appreciate who you are as a person. Physical beauty as we know it can be taken away in an instant but you can still remain beautiful – your ‘real beauty’ - the beauty that comes from within will shine through. Inner beauty transcends all that is physical. It’s all about integrity, truth and kindness. It is brave and soft. It is generous and peaceful: understanding and timeless.

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