Instead of tapping into our natural beauty and enhancing what we already have, we’re subscribing to popular products that aren’t made for us. But the features we’re born with are made for us, and yet we’d rather go after today’s crazy fads than embrace what our ancestors have given us. Though we might forget sometimes, the beauty and fashion industries are businesses that seek to make a profit above all, and it’s their bottom line and dictated trends that get us to reject our genes.
One Size Fits All
When it comes to clothing, makeup, and skincare, we’re pitched the one-size-fits-all approach. Crop tops are marketed to every shape and size, just as the eyebrow or contouring trend du jour is intended to be used on every face shape, regardless if it actually looks good or not.
I’ve fallen prey to this myself. I have distinct memories of being in high school in 2014 and hearing my mom practically beg me not to heavily contour and highlight my face. But I didn’t listen, because my favorite influencers and social media personalities were telling me that even though I looked nothing like them, it would make me look better.
As women, we buy clothes and makeup with the intent of making ourselves look attractive, and there’s nothing wrong with this. But we go about it in the entirely wrong way. Instead of looking in the mirror, we look to others who stand to gain something from whatever we buy that they recommend. We may not share the same body type, ethnicity, facial structure, complexion, hair type, eye color, or height, for example, but doggone it, we’re going to buy those wide-leg jeans and they’re going to look good on us! Or so we think.
We were never meant to look like everyone else.
Whether it’s winged eyeliner, long acrylic nails, the dewy skin look (even if we already have oily skin), thong bikini bottoms, cut-out dresses, baggy sweaters and cargo pants, one size does not fit all of us.
What Trends Really Do
Trends come and go, as they say. They exist to change, but before they do, the businesses promoting them are going to make a ton of money off us.
One of the most pervasive trends we’re currently seeing is buccal fat removal. This plastic surgery procedure removes pads of fat from the cheeks, resulting in a slimmer-looking face and more pronounced cheekbones. Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen is already flaunting her new, artificially-skinnier cheeks, and the internet is abuzz wondering if Lea Michele has done the same thing. Women all over social media have seen the short-term effects and are vocalizing their interest in the procedure.
But the appealing results may only be temporary. In fact, some surgeons are urging young women in particular not to undergo the surgery. As it turns out, the ancestors who gifted us (from our viewpoint) our unflatteringly large cheeks had it right all along. The fat in our cheeks is provisional from youth into old age because the human face naturally loses volume as we age. As a result, women who have had buccal fat removal may look prematurely older and even gaunt because of the lack of padding in their cheeks. Though plastic surgery tries to prove otherwise, you really can’t fight Mother Nature on this one.
Buccal fat removal is just one example of a trend as it’s meant to function. In just a couple of years, the trend will be something else entirely, and those who’ve permanently altered their faces – the faces only a distinct genetic code could create – will be pursuing something else.
Trends aren’t sustainable, but they are moneymakers. In 2018, the beauty industry in the U.S. alone generated an estimated $89.5 billion. Every lipstick, bronzer, brow gel, and blush contributed to that profit, but were any of those products really effective at emphasizing the beauty we were born with, or covering it up?
Fashion trends are even more detrimental, both to our self-esteem and to our planet. The fast fashion sundress or jean shorts that looked becoming on a TikToker with millions of followers might have looked flattering on her body type, but it probably won’t on ours. It’s only a matter of time before our self-esteem winds up in the trash alongside the dress that won’t even be popular in a week’s time.
Embracing Natural Beauty Means Embracing Our Genes
Have you ever thought about why you look the way you do? Probably not. When we look at ourselves, we don’t see the generations of men and women that came before us to make our lives possible. We see things we don’t like and things we wish we could change.
We’ll look better and feel better once we embrace what we were given.
Like the other women in my family, I’ve always been dissatisfied with my forehead, or what could be called a "fivehead." I can’t wear headbands or head scarves because of it; they always end up falling down. My shoulders are too wide, and I have an ample bust. Tank tops have never looked good on me, and certain necklines only accentuate that rather than minimize it. My eyebrows are unmanageable. My fingers are too short, and my hands are too small. The list goes on and on.
I can do two things with this list of critiques: either wallow in misery because I don’t look like Kate Upton, or accept the gifts I’ve been given and choose what best enhances the features I already have, rather than covering them up or trying to change them.
Not every woman is meant to have pencil thin or bushy eyebrows. Not every woman is meant to have bleach blonde hair or abnormally full lips. The best way to combat the trends of today is to enhance what we already have. Whatever our body type, our complexion, our face shape, our hair, and all the other unique features that have been handed to us and make us ourselves, we’ll look better and feel better once we embrace what we were given. Maybe we’ll never look good in a crop top or peasant dress. But every trait we have belonged to someone who came before us. We’ll never know them, but we have a piece of them with us at all times. We were never meant to look like everyone else, and it’s time we realized and be proud of that.
We probably don’t take much time to stop and think of how we came to be. We didn’t just begin with our parents or even our grandparents. Generations and generations of people throughout centuries had to exist and come together at the right time and place for us to be where we are today. We shouldn’t thank them by over-lining our lips or spending time in a tanning bed; your ancestors did not endure years of hardship for you to insist that bikinis flatter your figure when they don’t. We look the way we were always meant to. Even though that’s not by our own choice, there’s a profound power in knowing the traits we have today were handed down to us, just as we’ll hand them down to our own lineage.
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