A Case For Redefining The Definition Of Beautiful

Maybe I'm not as ugly as I thought?

Can you pin-point the time when it all changed? When you went from being a care free kid to an insecure adult? Or did it happen in high school? Or in childhood?

A woman in the ocean with a pink sunset

I was in first grade. The bell rang, and I remember asking if it was recess or lunch. Apparently, that was a very dumb question, because I should have known that it was lunch. I should have remembered that we already had recess. Idiot. Another kid decided he should throw a wooden block at me, because I was ‘dumb and ugly’.

Dumb and ugly.

A little girl thinking

I’m not sure if I had ever considered my appearance prior to that moment. Maybe I had – I remember thinking my friend was pretty and wishing I looked like her, but was that before or after I realized I was ugly? I honestly can’t say with complete assurance, but I do know that after that moment I needed to stop being ugly somehow.

I needed to be pretty, like my little blond friend who all the boys seemed to like. Who never got told she was dumb, who never had blocks thrown at her.

So, I put my blinders on and convinced myself I was beautiful. I imagined my face looked like the faces of all the popular actresses and models at the time. I closed my eyes and pranced around in my delusion for years.

And the weird thing? It seemed to work.

People regarded me with respect. No one threw wooden blocks at me anymore, and little by little I actually started to believe that I might just be valuable (cause, you know, I put all of my self-worth into how I looked).

Regardless, I made it through school somehow believing my own lie… Which, at the time, was what I believed it was, a lie. And I built little walls around this lie so no one could see through it. I would never leave the house without make-up on, that included the fake eyelashes I would never be caught dead without. I would never be caught dead with my natural hair either. I washed, blow-dried, straightened and then curled it every day. I tried to be skinny and hid my muscular legs because they weren’t the long skinny ones everyone else seemed to have.

A woman watches the sunrise on a bench

I thought if I maintained this façade of perfection, I would be safe from people seeing the real me. The ugly me.

Those walls came crashing down after high school when I stepped out into the real world. I had started to pursue a career as an actress when I was eight years old, and had managed to side step a lot of the negativity that came with it, until I was an adult. Living in Los Angeles, comparing myself to all these new, more beautiful faces, I wasn’t able to hide behind my little crumbling walls anymore.

I had a meeting with my agent, and she asked me to tell her what my kind of roles I saw myself playing. I listed off all my dream roles; bold, exciting, challenging, leading female roles that my heart yearned to play. It was easy, I had imagined myself in roles like this my whole life. Her response?

"But those are all beautiful women who played those roles. You’ll never be considered for those types of roles.”

A woman sits on the edge of a cliff

So, it was true. I was ugly, and there was nothing I could do about it.

BUT WHY?

Where does this definition, this measure of beauty come from? Why are some people considered beautiful, while others are not? Think of a woman you love; your mom, your best friend, your sister, your grandma. Is she beautiful? I am going to go out on a limb and assume your answer is YES! Now, what if I ask you the same question about yourself, are you beautiful?

Was that a less enthusiastic yes? If it even was a yes, were there conditions on it?

We could dive into the science or math behind beauty. There are arguments for symmetry, and others for asymmetry. There are cultural ideals, historical ideals, ideals that stem from human instinct and trendy ideals that seem to appear on our radar out of nowhere. But at the end of the day, should any of that dictate our own version of beautiful?

Mountain tops at sunrise

Is there a formula for a beautiful sunset? Do you think one mountain range compares itself to another mountain range? Does the Pacific Ocean think it’s ugly because it may appear to be a different shade of blue than the Atlantic?

Fuck no. So, why do we?

What if we took beauty back? What if we decided to redefine our own definition of beautiful to include ourselves? What if instead of comparing ourselves to others, we looked in the mirror every day and smiled because we recognized our own unique beauty.

I began to redefine own definition of beautiful, and though it hasn’t been easy, and yes, I still love to wear makeup and do my hair, I’m less afraid to be seen in my natural state. I do still want to take care of my skin and my body, but now I pursue these things from a place of love. I want to have healthy skin, a healthy body and a healthy mind so I can feel good on the inside, so I can live a vivacious beautiful life, so I can be the best version of myself, as opposed to striving to be someone I am not.

It’s a journey, there’s no denying that, but it’s worth it. It’s deeply important, and you owe it to yourself to step up, to look in the mirror and start looking past all the bullshit clouding you from seeing just how exquisite you really are.

My definition of beautiful is: kind eyes that aren’t afraid to make raw eye-contact, a brilliant mind that spills out of a smiling mouth, vulnerability that shapes a face, and a positive radiance that glows out from a loving soul.

What is yours? I want to hear from you, email me, tweet me, or @ me on Instagram your definition of beautiful! It’s not easy, and it is scary, but now is the time! Let’s do this together. Let’s redefine our definition of beautiful.

Ash DePass is the co-founder of STUNN Collective she is also an avid reader and writes fiction novels and screenplays in her free time.