Now, I’m not a huge fan of Beyonce; yes, she’s a great entertainer, artist and any other musical connotation you want to throw in the mix, but I appreciate her gift from a distance. I think I only have one CD of hers from when she was part of Destiny’s Child…say no more.
Yesterday I watched Beyonce’s new video ‘Pretty Hurts’ for the first time. I must admit as I watched I felt very uncomfortable, sad and quite emotional. Why? Because the struggle is very real, what she portrayed in her video is a reality for so many women (I’m sure men too), including myself. This is what I took away from her video:
There is no room for imperfections. If you aren’t pretty then basically you have no place in this world. The Student Becomes the Teach wrote about this saying: “Too often, our culture over emphasizes external beauty which is commonly subjective over internal richness of character.” I totally agree! I personally know a number of aesthetically pretty girls/women but their character is on a whole other level (there is grace, we can’t have it all or can we?) In her song Beyonce’s sings: “perfection is a disease of a nation…it’s the soul that needs a surgery.” This is truth! A friend of mine said that she has a problem with accepting how she looks. Now this woman, in my opinion, is both aesthetically beautiful and has such a beautiful spirit. For her to say that she is struggling in this area, makes me realize that there is something much deeper in our society that is not being addressed. The souls of men and women really do need a surgery.
Being ‘pretty’ isn’t enough. If your character is jacked up and you are not happy being pretty means absolutely nothing. Too many people, women and men, rely on their looks to get them ahead in life and granted for some that has worked. But, they have no aspirations except to be pretty and hopefully marry a rich man so they don’t have any worries…shoot, make your own money! Let’s get something straight, being ‘pretty’ or having lots of money does not equate to a happy life or that you are better than anyone else because you have either or both of these. If you believe that lie, you will be very disappointed…don’t believe the hype. I have a problem when people think that these things are more important than being a good person; I’d rather have five “ugly” (no such thing in my opinion) friends who don’t pick and choose if they like me from one day to the next (based on what I look like) and that love and accept me, over 100 “pretty” friends any day.
Over the past month or so I have deliberately done things to address my own issues of feeling inferior or simply, not enough. For example, I don’t wear makeup everyday or I’ll only wear mascara. I realized that I was wearing full on makeup to cover up acne scars that I felt made me look not so pretty. Now, I am not against anyone wearing makeup, if it makes you feel more comfortable and confident go ahead, there is nothing wrong with that at all. I love makeup. For me I was using it because I didn’t want people to see the Au natural Leancia in all her glory because I didn’t think the Au natural Leancia was pretty. So, I faced this issue head on and decided to start wearing little or no makeup at all. Was I worried about how people would react and treat me, sure I was but more importantly I needed to be convince myself of the truth, that who I am is more significant than how I look. I wanted to intentionally go against the status quo of what is deemed as popular in our culture in order to embrace my imperfections and not be afraid to let the world see the real me. The thing is if I don’t accept my own flaws and imperfections a) I give power to someone else to use against me, b) I become critical and judgmental of other people’s flaws. As a culture and as women we are so quick to point out or notice external imperfections in other people instead of looking at who people are and accepting them flaws and all. When we realize and I mean really live in the truth that none of us are perfect, we will be a lot more benevolent to others.
I was so happy to read that Lupita N’Yongo was nominated as the most beautiful woman in the world by People magazine. Seriously, seeing this woman own who she is and not change herself is truly inspiring to me as a dark skinned black woman. Previous winners included; Gweneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry and Nicole Kidman. You can read what she thought about this tribute and what her mother would say to her growing up, here. This leads into my final point. Parents, don’t focus ONLY (note I didn’t say, don’t reaffirm or tell them they are not beautiful), on your child’s external beauty so much so that they feel like that is all that’s important or all they have to offer the world. The culture we live in already does that without your help and added pressure whether consciously or unconsciously. I know that when I have a child (particularly a girl) I will not only reaffirm their external beauty but I will also inform them that it’s okay to be something other than a reality TV star, a WAG or a model. That working hard, valuing people and making a positive contribution to the world, not only makes the world a better place but will also have an even greater impact on their own soul.
So, I’ve decided that the real me is the pretty and beautiful me, that I refuse to hide whether people accept, approve or validate. It would be great if more of us did the same.