Caution, your reflection may be distorted by social constructed definitions of ‘beauty’.
I often look back at photos of myself from the past two years, in awe at how much I’ve changed in such a short amount of time. Those close to me would tell you of the stark contrast between my current red curls, and my previous straight long black hair.
It wasn’t until recently that I realised why I chose to embrace my natural hair colour, and lay off the beauty blender. I couldn’t help but think of how those I looked up to had played a part in the appearance of my teenage self. We can’t deny that social media has become somewhat of an extra limb. And that extra limb literally dictates what is and isn’t beautiful at that current time. You see the thing is, ever since I hit high school, my idea of beauty has been defined by what I saw celebs rocking in their latest magazine cover or music video. I look back and remember how my friends and I unconsciously mimicked what society told us to.
But it took multiple 24-hour red eye flights, cross-country buses, and a slap by diversity to realise that that definition is simply only applicable to one little corner of the world – mine. And it’s up to us to choose if we let it distort our own perception of beauty. I grew up being told that my red hair was simply ‘too different’ – ugly, you could say. And I grew up with reason to believe that my freckles were a failure of the ideal clear complexion. Thus, as a teenager, I obviously dyed my hair a ‘normal’ colour, and applied foundation until every skerrick of my unique self was gone.
‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ (quote from some wise lady)
As I’ve ventured from one side of the European continent to the other, I’ve constantly been taken aback at how often people obsess over my freckles, with many women telling me how they draw theirs on, believing they’re simply beautiful – sun kisses, they would tell me. And I can’t go without thanking the sweetest little old lady at a patisserie in Girona (Spain), she was astonished at my answer being that I had not in fact dyed my hair this colour, it was simply me. Her kind words (bella!) were some of many that diminished the damage of many years whereby those around me encouraged me to hide my red locks.
Not only that, but I’ve seen many women embrace their red hair and fair complexion, that my little world preached that I should fake tan. I was also surprised to see that there wasn’t this obsession with a skinny toned body, or the peach shaped booty, as I’ve lay in the sand of beaches in 14 different countries. Because in reality, the Kardashian’s and alike, aren’t the only beauty that exists. Cultures all over the globe have diverse beauty standards that just like in the West, are forever changing.
Before long, and without even realising why (until now), I’ve grown my hair out to its natural red, and I no longer feel the need to constantly hide my ‘sun kissed’ skin.
There’s nothing wrong with expressing yourself through that perfect contour, that golden ombre, or that self-sculpted bod. But for me personally, these standards were shadowing who I am, or who I wanted to be. Don’t allow societal standards to dictate the way in which you present yourselves, you are your own canvas, and the paintbrush is yours.
To my fellow ladies – You see the fact is, what we perceive as beautiful has been seriously misconstrued, you’ve been beautiful all along.
I must say – gracias, to the influence of those I’ve crossed paths with in the 18+ countries I’ve wandered through in the past two years.
– Haylee x
P.S. I can hear my Mum cheering at this long time coming revelation (even though she’s 16, 500kms away).