Beauty Starts in Your Head, Not in Your Mirror

Nobody is immune from the fact that others will often base their judgments, however harsh or unfair, on who we are or what we are on our outside appearance. In this essay, I will highlight reasons why such fears need not worry you.

It is human to worry forever about what others think about you. It is also human to wonder if you are indeed beautiful and worth looking at, admiring even in the eyes of others. Since time immemorial, humans have strived to enhance their exterior looks with all manner of inventions. We are bombarded daily on the mainstream media with the news of the latest Health and Beauty Products deemed our ultimate solution. Yet somehow, there seems to be that unfulfilled part of us that craves for more.

We all are aware of what the Western Fashion and Film Industry has for years promoted a skinny lady as a symbol of beauty, for instance. That’s the Western perceptions and standards. And they have a long-winding history as well. To a typical African lady in my village, beauty is the exact opposite! A beautiful woman or girl is smart, strong-willed, achieving, industrious, soft-spoken, kind, motherly, generous, courteous, and extremely well-liked, according to Flora in her book Efuru. Feminists such as Catherine, Valentine, and Joan in their Book ‘The Kaleidoscope of Gender: Prisms, Patterns, and Possibilities,’ believe that ‘the feminine beauty ideal is a concept that physical attractiveness is one of the women’s most important assets and something all women should strive to achieve and maintain.

Genetics attributes our physical appearance to our parents, their parents, their parents’ parents, and so on and so forth. It is something no one has control over in its entirety at least for now. With gene editing, which involves changing a single DNA letter, or base, in a gene, altering DNA in the human germline — embryos, eggs, sperm, or the cells that give rise to them — would create changes that could be passed on to future generations.

Until we cross that bridge, we need not stress how others really see us. It is a beautiful world. And we are here for a season and a reason. The point is nobody is right, and nobody is wrong. As such, it is unfair to demean others just because their perception of what counts as beautiful happens to be different from yours. So tomorrow, if you see a reflection on the mirror that does not fit the hyped definition of what counts as beautiful, remember nobody’s perception needs to define who you are.

You are wonderfully, uniquely, and beautifully made. Smile back to that reflection, remind them they matter, and that there’s enough room for all of us here. Laugh, love, and live!

By Levi Cheruo Cheptora-Medicine & Surgery Student
Nairobi, Kenya

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