Column: Women need better standards of beauty

Sep. 14, 2013 @ 01:03 AM

Earlier this week I heard a story that just made me cringe. It was a story about a skin care product that was being used by some Asian women to lighten their skin, and it was determined by doctors to be causing permanent skin damage. Specialists were urging that it be pulled from the market.

Then, doing some research, I found another item that made me want to scream. Japanese women were ruining their teeth because they were altering their teeth to create snaggleteeth in the name of beauty. The pictures were ugly.

It made me think about the things women do in the name of beauty. Beauty that is not determined by the individual but by trade journals that tell us beauty is an 18-year-old dressed up like a 30-year old, 6 feet tall and weighing about 115 pounds with absolutely flawless skin. And most women spend their lives trying to live up to an impossible image.

Black women try to lighten their skin and straighten their hair, while white women excessively tan to the point of skin cancer. Blondes become brunettes and brunettes become blondes. The diet industry has become a multi-billion-dollar industry that teaches fad diets that rarely have anything to do with good nutrition or exercise. Eating disorders have become commonplace.

It’s a message that we have been teaching for decades to women around the world. It’s a message of false hope and disappointment because few of us could look like the current model of beauty even when we were 18, much less at 30, 40 or 50. It’s a message that has created health issues for many women.

Aging has some advantages, especially if one accepts the wrinkles and gray hairs. It’s a time that we really understand beauty is on the inside and not the outside. We learn to value our friends for the type of person they are; not whether they wear the latest fashions or drive the best car. Hopefully, someday we’ll be able to teach the message to young women and they’ll learn to love who they are and pick role models for who they are inside and not what they look like outside.