Delight in that frizzy-haired yawn of a greeting, revel in a mudsmeared face framed by burrs, enjoy the smile of someone dressed up for no occasion whatsoever! Dependence on conceptions of ‘beauty’ too often limits us to the norms and demanded mannerisms. Why should be it be incumbent of every acquaintance to acknowledge a new haircut? Why does dressing up have to mean there is a necessitating “occasion?”
We are surrounded by ridiculous notions of how we are supposed to approach appearances. We are inundated with impossible images of what ‘beauty’ could be. Worrying about mashing ourselves into molds that often just do not fit can be more than uncomfortable — it can be burdensome, stressful, or downright harmful.
Beauty should mean being happy with your appearance — taking pride in yourself or finding contentment with who you are. Some people here get that. Some worry about whether Carleton’s norm of “casual” means they are doing too much or too little about their appearances. And some are the sort who feel that the one student in lab wearing makeup is actually saying “I’m better than all of you.” I think the latter two reactions just reflect our own insecurity, jeopardizing productive or even friendly interactions among students and peers. Let us work to redefine “beauty.” What we see and praise as beautiful should be what reflects the confidence, well-being, and happiness of beauty. When a friend gets out of bed early just to meet you, that frizzy bed-head is not saying ‘I don’t care about myself,’ but “I care about you.” Streaks of mud and leaves in the hair testify that adventure and nature trump coiffure. Choosing to dress up does not have to be a chore or obligatory chore supposedly demanded by the attitudes of peers or employers. Caring for your appearance can indeed be taking time for yourself, just like exercise or meditation. It can in fact start off a person’s day on a splendid note of, “I like myself, so this can be a good day.” Let appearances, for as much as they exist in public domain, not be the burden and stigma of public domains. Let your appearance reflect what you feel and never be ashamed to show a smile, no matter how bedraggled! Opinion: we need to start putting up more of the “You are beautiful” posters! That means right now, right here, in the middle of your life with all you do- you are beautiful.