The ‘What Beauty Means to Me’ Project


Beauty.


Whether we like it or not,  stereotypes of what is deemed as beautiful will often dominate our minds. Over the last few months, I’ve been working on a project which aims to help break down these stereotypes and highlight how diverse our own interpretations of beauty are.


I hope you enjoy this multimedia post containing video, podcast and photographic content featuring collaborations with some wonderfully inspiring people.


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“If someone is a beautiful person, it’s not just how they look.” – Jenny


What Beauty Means to Me

Liina

Do you remember those moments as a kid when you were free?

Free to wear what you wanted, get as dirty as you wanted and look how you wanted? Although, sometimes your parents did not agree with your freedom as much as you did, you continued with your games. Playing in mud and having messy hair was part of your life, not something you needed or even wanted to concentrate on.

Beauty is in the moments when you feel free, when you are in control of yourself and your life. Beauty is a kind word that appears unexpectedly and in a smile that you haven’t seen in a long time. Beauty is in every mirror on this earth, fighting against the shadows that sometimes lay on it. It is in our bellies, enjoying every curve, every food and drink that makes you smile. It is the little tickle in your chest when you look at your loved ones, when you feel sorrow and when you know everything is going to be alright.

When we grow up we learn not to run free, we learn to be tidy and neat, and we learn to look how everyone else looks. And in all this learning we sometimes forget that maybe we should not care about any of these things.

Maybe it is the world changing us, not us changing in the world.

Maybe we should find the beauty from our past and get back to our roots.

Forget what the adults say, just run free.



What Beauty Means to Me

Gabriela 

There’s beauty in everything. It can be the way the sun reflects on the mirror, surfaces of a lake or an elderly couple smiling at one another.

The media has greatly influenced the way we see beauty. According to all the films and magazines beauty is to look like a supermodel – male and female – and basically everyone should look like clones because there’s only one “correct” standard. I can’t emphasize enough how much I disagree with this. Everyone’s unique and that uniqueness is what makes everyone beautiful in their own specific way. I recall seeing a compilation of photos of random people before and after being told they’re beautiful and their genuine smile when hearing it makes the statement even more authentic.

But beauty doesn’t just have to be human. It’s everywhere around us. Imagine seeing an old ruined building with weeds growing through its boards but you can tell there’s still something appealing about it. You can be in the world’s most miserable place and still be able to find something glamourous. Something that makes it outstanding. All in all, being able to find the positive in everything is the key to a happy life.

What does beauty actually mean to me? To me it means being confident enough in my own skin to leave the house without any make-up on, although most of the time I do put some on. Not because I feel pressurized by the society but because, believe it or not, I actually enjoy the whole process.

It also means mental strength and independence.

It reminds of the words that my grandma told me throughout my growing up – to not be bound to another individual as that restricts our freedom.

It’s seeing my mother genuinely happy after years of struggling.

Beauty means doing something I love without any restrictions.

Beauty means having the ability to be anything I want to be and still be “me”, it’s all the small things that define who we are.

There’s beauty in everything, we just have to learn to see it.


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“It’s about your personality and how you feel.” – Lauren


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“You can find beauty in a poem or flower.” – William


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“It’s not just about looks but also inside.” – Ailsa


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“The joy of the human experience is that everyone is so different.” – Ivory Lovelust


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“To me, beauty is if you feel comfortable in your own skin.” – Emelie


What Beauty Means to Me

Leyah

I have spent so many years believing that beauty is a very rigid and noninclusive entity. As a child, into my teenage years and adulthood, the last thing I would have considered myself was beautiful. For the majority of my life, beauty was something that I would never ever attain.

Now, as a young woman, I see beauty for what it really is. Not what we’ve been subliminally taught to think it is.

There is beauty in everything. Everyone. All around us. It’s all encompassing. Limitless. And unstoppable.

The word ‘beauty’ urgently needs to be redefined to be representative of its inclusive and inspirational nature. If it had happened when I was a child, perhaps I would have understood just how beautiful I actually am.



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“For me, beauty means to be a balanced person.” – Kim


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For more of my original content, click here.

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About Leyah Shanks

Positive body image activist and advocate for mental health.

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