“Every month, ten thousand people Google: ‘Am I ugly?’” –Meghan Ramsey, The Global Director of the Dove Self-Esteem Project

I watched Meghan Ramsey’s TED talk where she makes some disheartening statements about being a teenager in today’s selfie-driven world. Sadly, young girls “value themselves by the number of likes or the type of comments they receive.”

Some adult women are unable to shed the insecurities they had as an adolescent and continue to live in fear of being judged for their physical appearance. Meghan states that women with low self-esteem pass on opportunities like going to a job interview.

Does confidence stem from our physical facade?

I am not going to lie. I do feel flattered when I get a positive comment on how I look. However, I know that people’s opinions can be fickle. For this reason, I don’t depend on others to feel worthy. There was a time when I received negative comments or uninvited solutions to my beauty issues. Even now, I am reminded of this. People are often pointing out how my skin has improved since the last time they have seen me. Although their intention may simply be to pay me a compliment, it does make me think of the value given to outer beauty.

Frequently, I hear the women in my family say, Los años no pasan en vano, meaning that the years do not pass without going unnoticed. Our skin changes as time passes. The experiences we have lived, both heartbreaking and encouraging, are reflected in the lines around our eyes. Nevertheless, this should not be a cause for mourning.

What we represent to the people within our trusted circle is what ultimately matters. The acts of generosity that we give to others lives within the hearts of those around us. Being an example of kindness to our family and friends who love us is much more meaningful than a beautiful exterior.

When I told a colleague of mine that I was going to cut my hair, she literally gasped. My hair was long and wavy. Recently, a family member from out of town visited me. She had only seen pictures of my long hair on social media. With a bit of disappointment, she said, “You cut your hair.” My 11-year-old neighbor solemnly asked, “Why did you cut your hair?”

It is common knowledge that long hair is more appealing. It is feminine. It is youthful.

For those of you who grew up in the 90s or are fans of 90s television, you must remember one infamous haircut scene of the popular show, Felicity, where the protagonist decides to cut her long curly locks. Many of the viewers deemed it an atrocious act against the beauty standard. Keri Russell, the actress who played Felicity, recalled in an interview how a woman came up to her and said, “You were so pretty before.”

How can we change this beauty-obsessed culture?

Meghan suggests taking a stand on social media by starting to admire and congratulate women on their professional or personal accomplishments. Perhaps, we could start recognizing the women in our lives by applauding them for going back to school, getting a promotion at work, or starting their own business. There are endless reasons to praise a woman for that doesn’t involve her new eyeliner, dress, or haircut.

My cousin, Andrea, is one of the top real estate agents in her company. She is a single mother who works hard and takes care of her loved ones. I admire her tenacity to thrive. I am going to take time today to let her know.

Now, think of someone you look up to and post it on social media. Let us appreciate the true beauty that surrounds us! Step by step, we can transform what it means to be beautiful.

Stephanie Sandoval

Contributing Writer, Two Wings