One of the cruelest things society and popular media have constructed is the impossibly high bar that’s raised for humans to meet in terms of their physical appearances. This construct is known as the beauty standard.
We have a long history of where we came from and how we came about. All of our pasts are connected, weaving and crossing one another in our tales of life. But unfortunately, history wasn’t always kind, and there were many instances where humans are divided into two categories: the oppressed and the oppressor. This grim history, I believe, was where beauty standards were primarily derived from: the oppressed desire to be freed and entirely accepted into society. Due to social hierarchy, among other things, the way to achieve that was to look similar to the more accepted people in society. And thus, beauty standards were born. Along with time, these beauty standards are then normalized, dividing humans into two vile categories that shouldn’t exist: “good-looking” (those who fit into the standards), and “ugly” (those who don’t fit into the standards).
It’s tragic, really. It’s harrowing that the shackles of beauty standards constantly hold back the majority of people. It’s saddening to see so many of us deem ourselves “ugly”—as if ugliness even exists, as if appearances can measure ugliness.
It’s a ridiculous thing to call ourselves “ugly”. Every aspect of us, every fibre of our beings, can all be traced to the very materials that created the cosmos. It’s almost an insult to the universe to call ourselves “ugly” simply because society made us believe that beauty can only look a certain way.
I believe that beauty runs deep within people. It goes far beyond the confines of physical appearance, and it’s all around us.
It’s simply the way people are, the way their true self shines.
It’s the way the stars glitter in the darkest nights—much like everyone who is stuck in a dark place and yet still has the strength to shine and never succumbing to the suffocating darkness that engulfs them. It’s the way a hill stands still no matter how hard the Earth shakes—much like everyone who chooses to stand true to themselves and their beliefs even when the world seems against them. It’s how the sea can be smooth and calm and beautiful but can turn deadly and merciless—much like how people all have many facets of themselves and can never be boiled down to one thing only. It’s the way the tree rooted itself deep into the earth, never faltering—much like everyone who never forgets where they came from, no matter how far they stray from home.
So you see, physical appearance cannot truly contain the full force of beauty. As are you, as am I, as is everyone else who suffers from the restricting construct of beauty standards.
Whenever you feel ugly, remember how incredible nature is and how it lives within you. You cannot choose your physical appearance as it is a gift that you bore from the day you came into this earth. If that fact devastates you, it’s alright. It takes quite some time for people to grasp just how magnificent they are.
But please know that there is something you have complete control of, and that is who you choose to be and what kind of person you’re becoming. You yourself are an incredible force of nature, and whether you choose to be a star, a hill, a sea, a tree, or anything else… Know that the choice is always, and forever will be, yours.
Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.
Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.
We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.
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We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.