A Guest Post from Chasing Hazel

 In News

Have you ever asked yourself — truly asked yourself — “What is my definition of beauty?” If you answered yes, then I want you take that a step further: imagine what that “beauty” might look like in physical form, as a person. Is it high cheek bones? Blond hair? Super thin? Curvy, tall, dark, muscular? What do you see?

Is it this?

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How do we build our beauty ideology?

My thoughts? From everywhere.

We are like sponges that soak up images and information from various places. The internet, magazines, television, Facebook, Instagram, music videos, and advertisements. Social media is a secret force seeping in through the cracks; all of these avenues projecting images for us to consume. Images that are edited and taken at flattering angles. We are fed images through advertisements that lead us into a certain way of thinking. We become familiar with beauty looking a certain way.

The problem is that only a very small percentage of us actually fit into this mainstream beauty we are exposed to. This leads to an overall message: If you buy these products you too can be beautiful. Or maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe it’s more simple than that. I’m overthinking this whole thing. Maybe it’s just, ‘I want my product to look the absolute best it possibly can so that people buy it or buy into it? Let’s get a gorgeous model that fits into the ‘traditional’ definition of beauty to help us convince people this product is worth buying.’

Well I call TIME OUT!!!!

There’s a whole world of beauty out there that is already living outside the box. In fact the box is bursting at the seams, inviting us all to see and understand that what’s inside, is really not all there is. All we have to do is grab it.

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Although advertising companies have come a long way, there is still progress that needs to be made. The images that our children see and internalize through advertising and social media are images of “perfection.” Our children are being raised in a culture where a certain type of beauty is sought after and praised. Our daughters feel like their hair is too curly or too straight, they are too short or too tall, too skinny or too fat. Being different is not cool. This beauty they seek is often unattainable and unrealistic causing them to feel inadequate. They watch media put out ads of young girls their age with more make up on than one can even imagine, and for everything else there’s photo editing software. How can they compare or compete?

I’m sorry, but feelings of inadequacy and insecurity are not what I wish for my own daughters as they grow and mature. One of whom was born ‘different’ than almost everyone else. Even as I type that word, I struggle to understand that she is different. I don’t see her that way. I see her as beautiful and ‘normal’ but I also know that she is ‘outside the box’. She was not born into the obvious, mainstream kind of beauty that we are all familiar with seeing. Does that make her less beautiful? Not a chance. She gorgeous!

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When was the last time you saw a child (or adult) with special needs in a advertisement? What message does that send to consumers/society? What message is it sending to my daughter? Why is it when she turns on the TV, flips through a magazine or goes online, she doesn’t see other children or adults that look like her? Do people with Down syndrome not use the same products, watch the same TV shows or wear the same clothes as everyone else? The lack of people of all abilities in media and advertisements leads to damaging perceptions: that these individuals must be fundamentally different than everyone else and therefore do not fit into the overall societal beauty ideology.

We need to create a culture of acceptance, belonging and understanding differences. We must try to change the mainstream definition of “beauty” – But how?

We can focus on INCLUSION.

We can INCLUDE children and people of all abilities in advertisements, on runways, on television programs. We can recognize and celebrate differences. We can find a place for us all on the proverbial “BIG SCREEN”. There has to be space for us all. We can showcase uniqueness everyday and begin to send a message that being different IS being beautiful. Our media and advertisements need to accurately represent our beautifully diverse society. In embracing this diversity we learn, we become empathetic and we foster compassion and love for all individuals.

There is a time and place for encouraging change, and that time and place is RIGHT NOW!! Let’s Change the Face of Beauty together.

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Article written for CTFOB by Steph Seguin

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Steph Seguin is a dedicated mother of two beautiful girls and an extremely talented blog writer. She provides an inside glimpse of the daily shenanigans of living and loving life with Down syndrome. She notes “Oh – I should warn you – sometimes there’s this neurotic women who takes control of this space and rants about the 2 tiny humans (ahem…terrorists) that are in current reign of the household. Join the chase!”

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