Why You Don’t Feel Beautiful

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By Sarah Dubbeldam


Photo by Ryan Page for Darling Issue No. 8

I don’t know about you, but as a woman, I’m tired.

Tired of trying to live up to the unattainable perfection I see in advertisements and on screen.

Tired of feeling like I need to edit pixels of myself before I can put a photo out into the world.

Tired of the over-sexualization of my gender in advertisements and on magazine covers.

Tired of the focus always being on beauty and not about my heart or character.

Tired of the conversation being shallow, of feeling like all that matters is material goods.

Tired of trying to get more likes, get ahead, and be noticed …

Whether you believe it or not, there is a problem with women’s media. For years, the message of “you are in need of alteration,” (in all kinds of respects) has been seeping into our minds, so much so that we have become desensitized–to the problem and to our part in the solution.

Glamour magazine did a study that found that more than half of women ages 18 to 40 are unhappy with their body and 80% of them feel bad after looking in the mirror. Eating disorders, depression, and anxiety are on the rise, not to mention the new layer of pressure added on over the last few years through social media. As a woman I feel a bit beat up, like there are invisible arrows being shot at me, or tiny bombs being planted in my mind all the time about my lack of what I have, what I need to be better, more attractive, more wanted and desirable.

When I woke up to the problem, when I started seeing media and Photoshop and all these negative messages for what they were, I decided to do something about it. My friend and I founded Darling Magazine on the premise that there needs to be a magazine that is for women–that says that we are so much more than how we are currently being represented in media. We wrote a mission statement about it, put it on Kickstarter, won our campaign, and three years later it’s become a popular magazine and social movement.

Darling is a social outcry for reform in our hearts, on our TV screens, in glossy pages, and in our face-to-face interactions. Darling holds the statue of the modern woman up to the refining fire and asks, ‘is she what we really desire, or is she tired, insecure, picked apart, stretched thin, photoshopped away? Darling asks, what does femininity look like in our modern age?

We must become personal catalysts for change. It all begins within–if we haven’t ever realized it, we must believe the fact that we are powerful. We must take notice of the lives we are able to influence and constantly walk into those spaces of service.

We must attain beauty apart from vanity. Beauty is not something that can be controlled, altered, and manipulated; it just is. It doesn’t ask to be admired; it rests in security. Our body is not something to fight with, to hate or to alter; it’s a work of art. We must respect and honor all the shapes, sizes, and colors we come in and drop out of the competition for first place.

We must gain influence apart from manipulation. We all know there are two paths to the mountaintop. The first woman steps on every person beneath with her sharp stilettos until she reaches the summit. The second overflows with genuine love and support for those around her, and is somehow carried up the hill at work and in her social circle.

We must honor style and avoid materialism. Style is an important, respectable art form, but it must be practiced in moderation. Racking up credit card bills to keep up is never the answer, but expressing creative, personal style is. Having ‘nothing to wear’ can be put in perspective when we consider and donate to causes that actually clothe the shoulders and feet of those without any closet at all.

We must practice sweetness apart from passivity. Sweetness is endearing; it breaks down social barriers and disarms even the hardest soul. It is a powerful tool, a gift of gentleness that brings grace to a harsh world; however, sweetness does not equal passivity–it holds a strength and respect and speaks up when necessary, but always in a tone of love.

We must be women who don’t tolerate degradation
. In a culture with so many mixed messages about our sexuality, we must ground ourselves to a core of value. Our bodies are not something to be objectified, but rather honored as sacred. We have been given our sexuality for good and not for manipulation or control. We must rest in a place of dignity, having a standard of never being used and discarded, but rather always cherished and held in high esteem.

Last but certainly not least, we must embody:

Virtue. Drawing out our commendable values and traits and having the character to do what’s best, even if no one is watching.

Wit. An intelligent woman with quick wit is always respected, so employing our natural sense of humor is always a good idea.

Modesty. Not only in how we present ourselves, but a deep healthy reserve and knowledge to know what to share and what to keep, what to reveal and what to hide in an alluring place of mystery.

Wisdom. As with hidden gems, wisdom must be sought and gained through experience and hardship, and to obtain its full worth, it must be given away to others.

The Creation of Beauty. We have been given hands with the potential to create beauty out of the unlikely; to illustrate, write, paint or sing from the heart; to design environments and dig deep in the soil; and, to plant seeds for trees for others to find shelter under.

Love. We must love not in a fleeting, self-seeking sense, but a real, selfless display–seen in the way we honor others, seek to serve, honor truth, trust and hope in others, seeing the best in them. Not harboring anger, but being quick to forgive and walk in patience, kindness, and grace day to day.

I think it’s time to start a #darlingmovement as we walk the streets, rooted in the fact that we are not only interesting but original, not only good enough but exceptional, not just here but here for a purpose only we can fulfill.

Learn more about Darling here.

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