Beauty is more than physical appearance

In the year 2015, you would hope that the definition of beauty and the objectivity of women would have changed from 50 years ago.

When I walk down the streets of Hollywood, a city I call home, I do not feel safe. Not because of crime or the crowds of people that hog the walk of fame, but because of the eyes that follow me. Even in long pants, a t-shirt that went to my neck and a heavy jacket, I still received lingering looks from some older men as I passed by.

When I walked to work over the summer I was always conscious of what I was wearing and the potential unwanted attention I could be drawing. I would walk with my head down pulling down my dress and ignoring the comments made by strangers instead of holding my head up high and being proud to be a woman.

We have made progress in equality, acceptance and tolerance, but where has respect gone? When I visited home my family was surprised to hear that I was not going out with different guys every week and did not already have a boyfriend. When I responded that I was trying to stay focused on the newspaper and with my studies, I was met with gazes of confusion. Instead of being commended for my focus I was told to “make myself look more available” because my independence may seem intimidating to my potential suitors.

As a little girl I was taught to be a strong, proud woman. Where did those teachings go? Society and my peers have told me that I need a boyfriend to be happy and the only way to get one would be to dress provocatively and not to respect myself.

I was appalled when I went shopping with a  family member and was met with judgment after holding up the new shirt I wanted.

“Do you expect guys to like you wearing that?” he said. “Maybe you would get more attention if you wore that.” He motioned over to a mannequin wearing a deep v-neck-cut, mini-dress that had an exposed bra. I explained I did not want a man who would prefer me in that. I want to date a guy who respects me and sees past external beauty for what is within, a feature many have forgotten.

We live in a society that only sees beauty on the outside and does not take the chance to dive beneath the surface, missing the real beauty. A woman should not have to dress a certain way to get a man’s attention. Women’s beauty is not defined by one standard and certainly not any physical ones.

About Lauren Shelburne

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