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


Women and Beauty: Changing the Conversation

Why we shouldn’t be trying to convince people that every woman is beautiful.


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.

Reader Discussion: 25 Comments

  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.

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