Beauty - for all our trouble defining it, and all the world's troubles resultant on making one single race, and a particular body type its hallmark - is enrapturing. As humans, we recognise beauty inherently, are moved by it and can hardly explain it. We are all drawn to and impressed by beauty.
But you know Newton's third law - for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction – so, as we are drawn to the beautiful so are we repulsed by the ugly. It's simple: we all want to be beautiful. We all want to be impressive and well-liked. We don't want to be 'ugly'.
Ideally, in a world where beauty is not an unchallenged singular concept, everyone could and would feel beautiful, but if wishes were horses, beggars would ride…
Despite our idealism, we are undoubtedly anchored in a reality that includes jealousy, bitterness and unkindness. So instead of delving into understanding our desire to be beautiful, many vehemently deny possessing the desire, and resort to badmouthing the beautiful, all in an underhanded attempt at getting a leg up. Or they overstate their saving grace characteristics of intelligence, kindness, or wealth of personality, all in the name of filling the void left by a lack of perceived beauty. After all, if you can't join 'em, beat 'em.
Where beauty is concerned our idea of 'beating' them often means dragging others into our own personal hell of inadequacy by tossing around weighty, negative commentary like missiles designed to sink self-esteem. (Misery does love company, after all.) And then we retreat to the shadows to wound ourselves further or lick our wounds (you decide) by buying into mass media marketing tactics that simultaneously tell us we'll never be enough all while promising we'll almost be enough if we buy their products.
Enter fatphobia and skinny shaming, stage right. Enter colourism and the glorification of Euro-centric features, to the detriment of everyone that doesn't have them, stage left. Centrestage, of course, is capitalism and mainstream media.
As far as fatphobia and skinny shaming go, for some us, being slim never did us any good as children. Always the ones to share seats, to be expected to occupy less space and to be annoyingly admonished to eat more, we can't say we always particularly enjoyed it. But we weren't relentlessly teased and excluded for our sizes, either, and we weren't forced to go on diets. But before this turns into a tallying of all the wrongs against skinny kids as against the wrongs against fat kids, we hasten to say that there were and still continue to be many unnecessary and unpleasant experiences on either side.
Ghosts of childhood memories and personal horror stories aside, fatphobia and skinny shaming are both very real, and very harmful. Laser focus and the deadweight of an entire society's judgment on the backs of children and TEENs, particularly around the uncomfortable period of pre-pubescence and puberty, is often too much to bear. Body shaming endured at any age generally has the potential to negatively shape aspects of our personalities and poison our body confidence and our relationship with food, drink and exercise. Choosing to pit the two experiences against each other only furthers the hurt experienced on either side by attempting to minimise one in relation to the either. So let's leave the 'Slim vs Fluffy' argument as nothing more than an old Pamputtae and Spice song. Instead, let's focus on uniting the camps with the common goal of ending body shaming, body policing and getting us the trendy clothes in our sizes that we all deserve.
And while we're at it, let's stop pretending to be more invested in persons' health and well-being than we actually are. If you're hating, you're just hating.
Similarly, presumptions about economic background, intelligence, manners, hygiene and general worth of a person based on their complexion are completely backward and reflect negatively on the one making the presumptions. Not to mention the fact that they are hardly ever correct. The only measure of those things are facts, not our invented fiction. We must all measure persons by the content of their character and not the colour or shade of their skin.
Lastly, may this serve as a timely reminder that a little make-up or makeover never killed nobody. We owe it to ourselves to recognise that the fake superiority of being 'different' from those who enjoy makeup isn't real and doesn't actually make us any better. We owe to ourselves and to everyone else to stop projecting shallowness of character and a lack of intelligence on others just because they spend a little extra time putting themselves together in the morning. And we also owe it to ourselves to think long and hard about how we consume ideas and images in mainstream media about beauty, health and our bodies.
It's okay to let people enjoy things. It's okay to look different from someone else. And it is certainly okay to own that and be proud of that.
Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If you were to close your eyes right now and describe beauty, your description would be different from ours or from anyone else's, because ultimately beauty – and the perceived lack thereof – looks a little different to us all.
The fact of the matter is no single thing makes anyone or anything unfailingly, unanimously beautiful. And no single thing makes anyone or anything unfailingly, unanimously ugly either. So why can't we all just be?
We all want to see ourselves and be seen by others as beautiful, and what stands in the way of those things are some discriminatory, non-inclusive beauty standards that we're long past overdue to lay to rest. Let the standards of the past (and your bitterness and cruelty) go. It's time.