Have you ever read something that stops you in your tracks and brings you to tears? I know I have. For instance, My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult and Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore, to name a couple.
Now, have you ever read an online blog post that moved you to tears? As of a few minutes ago, I can now say I have.
This letter written by Dr. Kelly Flanagan, a licensed clinical psychologist and father of three, had me weeping in my university’s library. This letter, addressed to his young daughter, takes a stab at the beauty and entertainment industry, whose skewed views on what it really means to be beautiful have seeped into the minds of young women across the world, destroying the self-confidence of many, one photoshopped magazine at a time.
These industries have led people everywhere to come to believe that central to a woman’s beauty is her body, rather than her mind or her heart. I myself have been torn down by the world’s flawed definition of beauty, allowing the media to brainwash me into believing that being skinny is better than being healthy and that it’s what’s on the outside that matters more than what’s on the inside. I still have a lot to work on in this regard, don’t let me fool you, but this article made me want to change my ways all the more.
It is words like those from Dr. Flanagan that give me hope and bring me back to the reality that the media and the beauty and entertainment industries are the ones with the problematic definition of what it means to be beautiful. It is the media and these industries that are reinforcing these toxic pressures on women to be “perfect,” when perfection does not exist.
We, as a society, need to challenge the media to change the way it talks about beauty. We need to remind both men and women that your own beauty lies inside, in your soul. Sure this beauty can be outwardly displayed, but not in how you dress or what kind of makeup you dawn, but in your actions and your words, in how you choose to live your life.
Your true beauty has nothing to do with your haircut, your nail polish or your weight. Your true beauty lies in your strength to go after what you believe in, to live passionately and happily, to chase your dreams, to strive to make a difference in the world. Your true beauty lies in your ability to love yourself and to love the people and the world around you.
It’s time to take a stand. It’s time to stop letting the media, celebrities, the fashion industry or anybody else tell us what it means to be beautiful. It’s time to embrace that everyone is beautiful in their own way, each with something unique to offer this crazy and wonderful world. It’s time for us to start changing the way we talk about beauty, and to stop making it about our bodies (thank you, Kenan, for this wonderful link).
Remember, today and every day, that you are beautiful. You are valuable. You are worthy. And most importantly, you are the only you there is and there ever will be. Embrace and treasure this gift, a you that is once in a lifetime.
Thank you, Dr. Flanagan, for speaking up and reminding your sweet daughter, and all of your newfound Internet friends, what beauty is really all about.