Women and Beauty: Changing the Conversation - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


Women and Beauty: Changing the Conversation


Sitting in a cafe in midtown Manhattan, I observe two young women.  Both are mid-20s, attractive and on the slimmer side of average.  They are talking animatedly about something.  Curious, I lean in.  I suspect that they are talking about a saucy first date, a juicy piece of workplace gossip, or at least a scandalous Tweet.  But no, they are talking about their weights.  They are talking about how they plan to tighten and tone “just a little more.”  One of them is on a gluten-free diet.  The other is on a strict cross-training schedule.  Both have stopped drinking alcohol and eliminated sweets.  These are pretty, healthy-looking girls, not the kind you would expect to have such concerns.  As they continue to chat, I have to wonder what, or for whom they are doing this for.

Women and Beauty: Changing the Conversation

It’s become common to hear about the way society, the media and the world at large place unreasonable demands upon a woman’s appearance.  So common in fact that further discussion seems redundant.  Well, I’m not here to reiterate what you’ve already heard.  I’m here to propose that we change the conversation.

Trying to empower women by trying to convince people that every woman is beautiful is a well-intentioned but misguided effort.

A counter movement is happening, and that movement says that we should expand our definition of what is beautiful.  There are girls whose images you can see transformed from unpolished start to airbrushed finish on YouTube.  With a quick internet search, you can see pictures of mothers pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy.  And they are proud of the contrast.  The Dove Real Beauty campaign demonstrated how respecting women as humans rather than objects can translate into profits.  These types of efforts will continue.  They challenge our preconceived notions of what’s beautiful, and that’s a good thing.

But the problem with these types of efforts is that they’re all still focused on the way that a woman looks.  The real question is, why is being beautiful the focus at all?  Whether a woman is “beautiful” or not, it’s a shame that her value seems be so tied up with her appearance.  Trying to empower women by trying to convince people that every woman is beautiful is a well-intentioned but misguided effort. It’s asking people to look beyond the superficial without actually going beyond the surface.  It’s shining the spotlight on what we’re asking people to overlook while failing to provide an alternative focus.

Rather than focusing on expanding our idea of “beautiful,” let’s expand our idea of how we measure worth.  Let’s stop talking about a woman’s appearance altogether.  Let’s shift our attention to the work she’s doing, the kindness that she shows, the strength she shares and the difference she’s making in the world.  Let’s stop talking about bodies and faces and start talking about the people who wear them.


What do you think are the pros and cons of expanding the idea of what is beautiful?
Do you think these types of efforts are more or less empowering to women and why?
We’d love to hear your thoughts below!  

Raised in California and North Carolina, Jen is both an actress and a writer. She loves writing fiction, especially for young adults, and exercising her non-fiction muscles through Urbanette and her chocolate blog: Chocofiles. Jen also loves adventures, yoga, live music and spontaneous dance parties.


  1. Katherine Donnelly

    If we just stop defining beauty as how we define it now and start giving more reason how to be beautiful, then women can have more confidence.

  2. Joss Butler

    I asked my wife why she wears makeup. She answered me that she wanted to look beautiful for me. I don’t think she needs it, and maybe if there were more ads like Dove, then she wouldn’t feel that need. But then, won’t companies lose money? My guess is that there will always be pressure, so companies can sell makeup.

  3. Jesse Wyss

    We judge people base on how she looks, and define beauty as having a perfect physical appearance. Expanding the definition of beauty can help another woman to boost their confidence.

  4. Hena Taylor

    I’m the type of girl who doesn’t want any make ups. I put lip balm because my lips hurt.

  5. Ana Brose

    I would rather live a happier life, than making my life suffer to look beautiful. A happy woman is the beautiful one, right?

  6. Steev Smith

    Looks are important in this life. If you’re applying for a job, they require a person with a pleasing personality. Let us just accept that in this world, the word “beauty” not going away.

    • Oscar

      From my point of view, I believe most women on TV these days are far from attractive. Skinny buggers that look like deck chairs. If I’ll give advice to women, I would say, “it doesn’t matter what you look like, if you dress classy, you look classy.”

  7. Kathryn Gibson

    I believe that I am beautiful. I didn’t mean that I am beautiful outside, but inside. The real beauty for me is inside, not from the outside.

  8. Sherry Manust

    We are all beautiful. That is for real. Everyone has their own perspective of beauty.

  9. George Sumanta

    What’s wrong with talking about getting slim? Maybe they only want to be slim because they want to be healthy, and not to look beautiful.

  10. Jessie Fernande

    In my opinion, it is empowering. We should not stick on our perspective that woman is beautiful if they are sexy, and has a perfect face.

  11. Robert Patel

    I always tell my wife that I don’t care how she looks. As long as she’s the one I married I will love her eternally.

  12. Lusi Martin

    Pros and cons? Hmmm.. If we just focus more on the woman’s worth than her beauty, we can all be happy.

  13. Jenifer Jeni

    You’re just giving them false hopes. If we just accept the fact that men look at their physical appearance first, before knowing the real attitude of a woman.

  14. Monique Malick

    Being beautiful is not just about the looks, but in the attitude as well. Expanding the idea of how we should see the beauty can empower women, but not all of them.

  15. Wilma Moore

    Because in this world, being sexy, and beautifully is important to attract men. The Kardashians are the most influential people in today.

  16. Britni Baynes

    You can’t tell us not to worry about on how we look. Let us all accept the fact that men, sees the beauty of a woman in her physical appearance.

  17. Yuliya Bruce

    Before we expand the idea of how we measure beauty, maybe we can include their attitude in the list of how can you tell that a woman is beautiful?

  18. Paul Daiz

    Oh cmon, you’re not looking at woman’s physical features? I doubt. Honestly speaking, when I date, I look at her body and face first.

  19. Jessi Agusta

    If we expand our idea of beautiful, then the word “ugly” would not be in our vocabulary.

  20. Jeni Morgan

    All women are beautiful. Being beautiful is not only on the physical features, but in the heart as well.

  21. Telling all women that they are "beautiful" can be just as superficial as setting impossibly high beauty standards if the concept of beauty does not move beyond the physical. Instead of expanding our definition of beautiful in terms of what is physically attractive, the definition could be expanded to include character, values, attitude, etc. It might make the word a worthier compliment!

  22. What is the conception of beautiful? I think beautiful should be defined as someone's sense of humor or dedication to the world around her, not her face shape or dress size. It's super irritating to see how women are constantly put on a pedestal too look a certain way for others. Thanks to your article and other positive influences, we can work together as a sex to change that 🙂

  23. I completely agree with this article. Media tends to make the public focus on our appearence either by saying we must look a certain way or being the way we are is just fine. Let's measure the women's worth instead. We need to look beyond the outside and see what's on the inside. When a woman is kind, generous, ambitious – these are all factors that builds a woman's worth and truly makes her beautiful.

  24. Jen Spillane

    I totally agree with this. Throwing out "everyone is beautiful in their own way" is just a backhanded consolation. Men are constantly making it so that a woman's worth lies in her appearance, so we shouldn't be backing that up.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *