“The lunatic is the man who lives in a small world but thinks it is a large one; he is the man who lives in a tenth of the truth, and thinks it is the whole. The madman cannot conceive any cosmos outside a certain tale or conspiracy or vision.”—G. K. Chesterton
Hi, ladies! Just a little introduction to the wonderful essay that you are about to read. Brooke Brazer is the author of this brave and powerful piece of writing. And I can genuinely say that she is one of the most beautiful people I have ever met. Yes, she is physically stunning. But she also is talented, smart, and good-hearted. I don’t think that she knows this, but she genuinely inspires me. No, she’s not perfect. Nobody is. But everyone does have layers. Underneath her completely held-together image, you can see this beautiful, pure, raw human being. She is an incredible human being, and I’m going to miss her next year! (Yeah. She’s moving to freaking ENGLAND! :)) xx Abby W.
Society and popular culture often define the opinions and perspectives of our generation. What we see on TV, read in magazines and observe all around us, influences how we perceive others and how we perceive ourselves. This outlook on the world is especially endorsed in a private school environment. In such an objective microcosm of the world, these beliefs are fostered and reinforced.
I often wonder what the criterion is, in regards to physical appearance, to be accepted at a school like Westminster. Looking around the classroom or dorms, it is evident that looks do play a role in the admissions process. With rare exception, everyone, to some degree, is relatively pretty. Whenever family and outside friends look through the Westy yearbooks, all they can ever say is, ” Wow…you all look like models…” While I am sure Westminster does not focus solely on admitting beautiful faces, but intellectual minds and well-established characters as well, its attention to fostering presentable students has created a pandemic throughout the Westminster population, especially females. As Westminster fills its classrooms with pretty faces and seemingly perfect bodies, the standard for what is considered average continues to increase exponentially. The girl who was once considered cute is normal or even unattractive when compared to the million dollar smiles and perfect tans of the unbelievingly attractive model like girls that command the hallways and everyone else’s attention. In order to maintain the status quo and keep up with the ever-increasing standard of beauty, girls go to great lengths to change their own and others perception of them.
Having gone to a very large public school, I have seen all sizes and shapes of beauty. Yes, there were the pencil thin blondes and “bodacious” hotties that middle school boys drooled and fantasized over, but for the most part, the phrase “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder” rang true. Flash-forward to Westminster, I don’t think I have ever seen so many gorgeous, tiny, perfect people! Look at their facebook pages; even their candids would be worthy of a Vogue magazine advertisement. The truth of the matter is, the stereotypical appearance of private school students holds true at Westminster School. Beyond recognition of the obvious, it is critical to recognize the subsequent consequences of the impending issue.
Everyday for the past three years I have witnessed the metamorphoses of so many girls; a rapid and drastic change in their mentality and physicality. I have watched a friend, who has always been beautiful, beat herself up over having eaten too much, when her lunch consisted of only a small bowl of lettuce, celery and cucumbers. Her punishment for such a gluttonous and horrific meal? Spending hours in the gym to burn off those mere 100 calories. The continuation of such discipline and penitence has resulted in health problems, isolation from friends and of course a drastic change in her weight. One would think that having witnessed such a travesty, friends would’ve tried to help her or at least learn from her mistakes, but sadly, this was not the case. Recognizing her relative ‘success’ in her appearance, other girls followed suit, throwing around phrases like “detox”, “diet”, “I need to watch what I eat..” and “I need to go to the gym!”. The disease raged on and will continue to spread due to our ignorance and passive approach the issue.
Do not get me wrong, society and Westminster in no way condones this behavior and does take strides towards resolving the issue, however this world, environment and mentality we live in fosters the growth of diseases such as eating disorders. If Westminster and the rest of society continue to put emphasis on the importance of appearance, thereby increasing the standard of what is deemed beautiful and acceptable, then the pressure to keep up with society’s expectations and maintain the status quo will hinder resolution and ultimately devastate our population.
We spend so much time here on the blog talking about accepting yourself and seeing the beauty within yourself that we’ve strayed from the original idea of the blog… finding beauty in life. Think about how crazy gorgeous our world is. Somehow, the Earth spins around on its axis, providing us with day and night. Gravity keeps our feet (and sometimes our asses, especially if you’re clumsy like I am) planted firmly to the ground. The sky turns from an inexplicable shade of blue to the richest black and then back to blue again.
What really got me thinking about this was my French homework last night. One of the questions asked us to describe what we did the last time it rained. As I sat at my desk, laptop waiting patiently in front of me, I thought back. The last time it rained, last week, I was driving. Negativity had been surrounding me and I had begun losing that pure lust I had for living and the ability to find beauty in everything. I pulled over in an abandoned field, gently opened my car door, and began to dance. Yes, I probably looked like an idiot dancing on the side of the road in my floral sundress and leather jacket. But I didn’t care. I danced in the darkness and the wetness just as I had danced in the light and the joy before.
It got me thinking about how beautiful rain is. But why? Why is rain beautiful? (My friend Heather is sitting next to me as I type this intensely in the library… she says that rain is beautiful because “it cleans everything. When I think of rain, I think of purifying things. And my other friend Molly says that it’s “different than having sunshine, in a good way.”) Rain simply astonishes me. Somehow, rain, one of the things we need in order to sustain human life, falls from the sky. It nourishes our ground; it nourishes our bodies. Millions of little raindrops simply plop down onto our soil, just like that.
And that, my loves, is why I think rain is beautiful.
Amy DeMarco is a French teacher and a mother to a happy, beautiful two-and-a-half year old.
How do you define beauty?: I’ve always thought that comes within. Someone who is smiling, someone who is happy with him or herself, loves themselves. Usually if they do, it shines though. In my opinion, not necessarily looks, but who the person is, which is different from what society thinks.
Media For a while it was definitely tall and skinny. Like the long beautiful hair and the makeup and everything. But lately which has been really nice is ANTM. She had the plus size models. I think that society is starting to realize that the tall and skinny, anorexic-looking people aren’t normal. Society is opening their eyes a little more… people who are running the media. I think it’s been getting better.
As a mother I’m always going to tell her that she’s beautiful- inside and out. I want to make sure that she believes it, as well. I’m going to give her millions of hugs and kisses so that she knows she’s loved, no matter what. I’m going to tell her to make herself happy, because what everyone else says and does isn’t always the right thing. Whatever makes her happy is beautiful.
As a teacher I think mainly the groups of people that hang out together- the people with the nicer clothes are in one group. the pretty girls go in one group, the not so pretty not so popular girls go in another group. They could all be friends, btu appearance is the reason why they’re friends with each other. It’s not that they have things in common. The whole thing with clothing, as well. It depends on some people who wear certain things rae looked at difeferently which is not right. School uniforms are the way to go.
Advice I would tell myself… I was compared to my sister a lot. Be yourself, be happy with yourself, and slap myself in the face a couple of times. I’d say forget about the negative. I was very pessimistic about a lot of things. Love myself for who I am, and someday someone will realize how special you really are and will love you back.
Views on the media/society I think they’ve definitely taken a step forward in including plus-size models and everyday people. Dove has the program for little girls… media really needs to instill girls, young girls, to be happy with whatever they decide to do and not listen to the old people who are stupid. I think it’s too late for a lot of people, but media and then all of the technology too… technology is really scary now. Anything can get posted at any time. It’s cruel when people don’t think of other people or make fun of another person for the way they look. It’s a gateway for torture for people who deal with that. You’re told through and IM or Facebook that your ugly, and then you start believing it yourself.
Still affected? I’m much more comfortable with myself now. I do things for myself now, not anyone else. I understand that my body will never be the same after having a child. But that’s the beauty because I was able to give life to someone. I started working out with a group of women and we are able to doit for ourselves, which is good. We’re forcing ourselves to work harder, when before I would only try to fit into skinny jeans, which are ridiculous.