Dear “Beauty” Industry,
I write you today, both in awe of your influence and well aware of the degree of deception with which you have obtained it. To be clear, this is not hate mail. I don’t write hate mail, because I am not a hater.
I am a lover.
The things I love most are those I see as beautiful, which might seem a bit ironic considering that beauty is what you claim to know all about, but herein lies the reason for my letter:
The “beauty” you’re selling is bullshit.
Which means you are making a mockery of true beauty; of the things I love the most.
I write in defense of this beauty.
There’s no denying that you’ve been a part of my sphere of influence since I was a little girl, just as you mold and shape every small child. Fortunately, though, I had other, more powerful influences that helped me see through your smokescreen from an early age.
- Frequent exposure to nature.
- A mother with self respect who took care of and never insulted her body.
- A father who empowered his daughters to be anything we wanted.
- Parents who told me I was valuable and showed me with plenty of love and attention.
- A strong community of diverse and caring people whom I always knew I could trust.
- Patient teachers who validated my ideas and encouraged my uniqueness.
These gifts birthed in me a strong sense that beauty is not something to be bought, but something we first tune into and then cultivate based on the stirrings within our souls.
Which is the reason I know your “beauty” to be a scam.
You have mastered your art. There’s no denying that you’re good at what you do. It’s just that what you do isn’t good:
You lie to little girls.
You confuse young boys.
You perpetuate self-loathing in adolescents.
You manipulate images of already-beautiful bodies into unachievable, inhuman shapes in order to present “beauty” as just beyond our reach.
It’s genius, really. Deceive us when we’re little, make empty promises while we’re desperately seeking to define ourselves, then contort our perceptions of what’s possible and just like that…you’ve got customers for life.
But not me. Because I’m not buying it.
The photo at the top of the page? I felt beautiful at the time it was taken.
Because I use all your latest and greatest anti-aging serums?
Because I’ve finally achieved your promises of perfection?
Because I was sporting my spanx and boosting my bust, having recently shaven myself smooth?
Not even close.
I felt beautiful when that photo was taken because I was standing against a dilapidated seaside fishing shack, windblown from dancing wildly, right smack dab in the middle of manifesting my dreams.
I felt beautiful when that photo was taken because I’d been painted by sunshine, not some “prettifying” product.
I felt beautiful when that photo was taken because the man behind the camera not only loves me completely, but finds me beautiful and sexy and mysterious because of all the “imperfections” you would have me alter, lift, tuck or smooth away.
I felt beautiful when that photo was taken because I was outside — in the womb of true beauty — claiming the oneness with creation offered us all.
But perhaps more than any of that, I felt beautiful when that photo was taken because I am aging, which means I am increasingly sure of and happy with who I am apart from your influence.
I don’t need you to define beauty for me. I got this.
Thing is, not every little girl grows up believing she is beautiful.
Maybe no one told her they liked her ideas.
Maybe the images on tv were more beautiful than the fighting in the next room, so she chose the better of the two.
And not every little boy feels safe enough to explore the beauty all around him.
Maybe he’s never been told or shown he was capable.
Maybe no one’s ever taken him on a boat or around a mountain pass at sunrise.
These kids trust the “experts” to show them what’s beautiful, and your lies become their foundation.
As an industry, you should know that I and many others are working against you. Not with millions in the bank or through manipulative marketing, but by using our unique strengths and voices, born of the very beauty we seek to protect:
We’re empowering our daughters to love themselves and know bullshit when they see it.
We’re teaching our sons how to spot something truly stunning, whether she’s wearing heels or its branches make good shade.
We’re healing our cultural wounds, rewriting has-been stories and claiming the right to define beauty for ourselves.
You are more powerful now than you were when I was young, which means your influence in my daughters’ lives will be even harder for them to resist and overcome.
But I’m not worried about my daughters. You know why?
Because we dance wildly in fishing shacks, painted by sunshine.
Because they’ve seen ocean tides and mountainsides and sunsets for comparison.
Because we surround them with confident and caring people who love life and live it well.
And mostly, because they’ve been taught what real beauty feels like.
Grateful for your contribution to my understanding,