As little girls, we grew up with so many hints and cues about what it meant to be beautiful. Princesses in fairy tales always had impossibly tiny waists and delicate features. Our Barbie dolls (or any other doll, really) always had soft hair, long legs, flawless skin, skillfully painted makeup, and of course, a closet full of outfits we all (secretly) wanted. So it's no wonder why we started to have these hard-to-reach ideas about beauty—especially when we've always grown up with all these cues and references that shape our understanding of what beauty should be—to the point that it eventually becomes our very own definition of beauty.
But here's the thing, Candy Girls, beauty standards can be so problematic and for many reasons, too. In the first place, they're absolutely impossible to catch up with. Remember the saying "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder?" This couldn't be truer as everyone will have different standards of beauty for many reasons. One of them could be something as simple as where you live. Different cultures around the world have their own beauty standards. People in America, for example believe that tanned skin is more attractive and some girls go through different tanning measures just to achieve the look while our morena girls here are blessed with the naturally tanned skin they're gunning for. In the meantime, a lot of girls in Asia slather on whitening creams and even pop skin whitening supplements to get the naturally fair skin of Westerners. In the Philippines alone, so many skin products feature whitening properties, signaling the kind of beauty standard we hold as a society. It is so prevalent, in fact, that according to an Inquirer article last 2016, forty percent of women surveyed in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, and South Korea used creams to whiten their skin.
Beauty standards are also influenced by what's trendy at the moment, which means that beauty standards are going to change constantly. Who has the time to go chasing after all of them? Case in point: freckles. Shout out to all the freckled Candy Girls out there! Isn't it crazy how freckles suddenly became such a huge makeup trend in 2014, but before that, people did their best to cover them up as much as possible to achieve clear, flawless skin? Another beauty trend that's all the rage now is the Kylie Jenner pout. Lips weren't the main focus in the beauty department a couple of years ago, but now, a painted and plump pout like Queen Kylie's is an essential in many girls' makeup routines.
All these show how beauty standards are never permanent—they are always going to come and go.
With that, we have to ask ourselves if conforming to societal beauty standards is still worth it.
Imagine going through all the trouble of working on your appearance to reach a standard of beauty, only to have them change the following month or only to be considered as sub-par to other people? It's so easy to feel insecure and discouraged because of the impossibility of the task, but don't be.
Instead of conforming to standards, go beyond them!
Know that you are unique, and uniqueness is the most beautiful quality of all. In an era where the "copy-paste" mentality goes beyond the confines of your computer and even influences how people look, what people do, and much more, being your unapologetically unique self is the most beautiful thing there is. Being unique has become more and more difficult with the influence of social media, so more people have begun conforming to what is popular without really thinking things through.
But why must you limit yourself to the beauty standards of the status quo, when you could expand the notion of what is beautiful?
The challenge now is to be your own brand of beautiful. In a society where impossible standards exist to make us feel inadequate, it is so important that we don't let society's standards dictate our self-worth. Go beyond those standards! Do the things that make you feel beautiful—be it excelling in sports, engaging in your favorite hobby, or just helping other people out. If there's any beauty standard you should be following, it should be your own and no one else’s.
After all, being confident in your own brand of beautiful will surely never go out of style.