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: 37 Comments

  1. Betty Whitmer

    “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,”

  2. Joyce Shealy

    Not every woman is beautiful. It is kind of a hateful thing to say but it would be the same as saying that all men are gorgeous. The fact is that women can be different and it just depends on what your definition of beautiful is. Therefore, not all women are beautiful.

  3. Earline Wilham

    Every woman is beautiful in her own way. Inner beauty is the most important feature in a human being.

  4. Jewel Byars

    Actions Speak Louder than the Body. Some women can be very ugly despite their physical appearance. Some people can become very unattractive by their actions alone.

  5. David Robinson

    When it comes down to all women being beautiful, I would have to strongly disagree with that statement. Though every woman has the potential to be beautiful, not every woman is beautiful. Beauty is something that comes from within no matter how pretty one looks, and unfortunately not all women have this beauty. Instead, they are marred by their actions like stealing, cheating, and lying.

  6. Deborah Maynard

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so yes all women are beautiful. All because one person doesn’t see the beauty doesn’t mean someone else won’t. So there is no set standard for beauty it is safe to say that every woman and every man is beautiful in some way to someone.

  7. Ben Fulton

    “All women are not beautiful.
    Beauty is subjective, and not everyone considers all women to be beautiful. Even if one considers beauty as a metaphysical ideal rather than just appearance, not everyone can be beautiful. Some women have ugly faces, and some are malicious murderers. Beauty would have no significance at all if everyone were beautiful.”

  8. Alicia Worrell

    All women are beautiful, and all of them are special, and that isn’t just a saying. Every single person is unique, and is it devastating to see that we live in a society that constantly objectifies women and forces them into stereotypical gender roles and makes them question their own appearance every day.

  9. Patrick Fortune

    we all have different definition of beauty, and we are no one to judge who is beautiful and who is not because is everyone is beautiful in some or the other way

  10. Chelsea Handley

    True beauty comes from within, we as women and especially young girls judge ourselves according to how others see us and think we have to look a certain way, that is superficial beauty.

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