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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Lessons on beauty standards

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I don’t believe there’s one definition of “pretty.” Even on an individual level, a person’s idea of beauty changes throughout their lifetime. I’ve definitely gone through life looking at beauty in very different ways. In elementary school I flounced around in frilly dresses, in middle school I wore outlandish, slightly less socially acceptable outfits, and in high school I preferred graphic tees and dark colors. Although my style has evolved, I don’t see any one of my looks as being “better” than the others. However, at Carleton, we say that we’re open to new ideas and ways of interacting with the world, but as soon as someone strays from the beanies and Birkenstocks uniform, we pass judgment.

I feel pretty covered in dirt and sweat, but I also feel pretty with a bit of makeup on and a cute dress. I don’t understand why the two things need to be mutually exclusive, but sometimes walking around campus, I feel like a giant spotlight is on me as soon as I put on a bit of mascara. I do appreciate being in an environment where I can roll out of bed in the morning and go to class with unwashed hair and not be judged. I also realize how lucky I am that traditionally female beauty standards aren’t pushed upon me at Carleton. However, in our attempt at progressiveness and inclusivity, we end up alienating people who go against Carleton’s fashion norms. While the idea that Carleton has fashion norms seems contradictory, since most of us try our best to stray from fashion trends and being labeled as “basic,” we fail to recognize that we’ve ended up creating a collective Carleton style. Sometimes, it feels like we’re hipsters desperately pretending to have found our own sense of style.

I know that wearing makeup and shaving my legs corresponds to conventional female standards of beauty. That being said, just because I wear makeup doesn’t mean that I act like a porcelain doll. I have my own sense of style, my own opinions, and my own hopes for the future. Just because I wear makeup doesn’t mean I’m subservient to men or am for upholding the patriarchy. I’m fully aware that makeup has traditionally been a way for society to tell women that they need to hide their “flaws.” I’m fully aware that society tells women to dress in a certain way to trick us into sexual objectification. I’m aware of all these things, and because of this awareness, I know I’m making my own beauty choices. Just because some of these choices happen to be the norm doesn’t make them any less justified.

Caring about what other people wear is silly. It doesn’t affect you, and only creates unnecessary strife. If we truly want to be feminists, we need to strop judging women for wearing clothing outside of cultural norms, as well as clothing that upholds cultural norms. Sure, I think educating women on the subconscious reasons they may be wearing certain clothing is important, but after that the choice is ours. As a woman, I’m a lesson in contradictions. I wear color-coordinating outfits that I get dirty from walking in the Arb. However, if we were more accepting, I wouldn’t have to be labeled as a contradiction. I wouldn’t have to be labeled at all, since an accepting community knows that there aren’t specific enough labels to perfectly fit everyone’s unique sense of self.

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