Have you heard Alessia Cara’s new radio single “Scars To Your Beautiful”?
You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are
And you don’t have to change a thing
The world could change its heart
No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful
She told Cosmo, “It was important to put that in my own words and remind people that they are beautiful no matter what.” That is sweet and I’m sure her heart is in the right place, but…CRINGE. Another “Everyone is beautiful!!!!!1” anthem meant to be empowering but totally missing the point.
I am ALL for self-acceptance. 1,000% percent. But saying everyone is beautiful is just bullshit.
First: Everyone ISN’T beautiful, whether you mean on the outside or inside or both (TRUMP!). Different cultures have different beauty standards, but each culture has them. Western beauty standards get pounded into American girls’ minds from birth: be thin but have big boobs and a good butt; have huge eyes but a cute tiny nose; have perfectly straight white teeth; have a symmetrical face with big lips. (Also, be light-skinned and have straight hair.) Some people achieve these standards better than others (see: Victoria’s Secret models).
By saying “No no! EVERYone is beautiful,” Alessia Cara (and whoever else) buys into the mindset that beauty is the goal. I think she and others say “beauty” but actually mean “self-worth,” “self-respect,” “value,” and stuff like that. Not everyone is beautiful, but who cares? Everyone has value! Everyone deserves fundamental human rights! The problem isn’t people thinking they’re ugly; it’s accepting society’s BS assertion that beauty is the end-all be-all, that beautiful people are inherently good, that in fact beautiful people are better than the rest of us.
Saying “You’re prettier than you think you are!” like Dove’s real beauty videos is pseudo-empowering (great post about that on Everyday Feminism here). It assumes women WANT to be pretty (which, granted, is hard to escape). But what if I don’t want to be beautiful? What if I’d rather be fierce and kind and funny and terrifying?
Rather than pretending everyone is beautiful, we should start calling out society for putting beautiful people on a pedestal. We should demand that intelligence, drive, wisdom, talent, etc. be the markers of value in our culture instead of beauty and wealth. How about we start paying more attention to awesome people like Elizabeth Warren than Kylie Jenner?
Also, let’s talk about the irony of someone beautiful–Alessia Cara–trying to tell everyone else we’re beautiful too (even though she’s only wearing light makeup–doesn’t wanna rub it in too much). Despite her fondness for flannel and beanies, even Cara can’t escape preferential treatment for her appearance. You’d never have Susan Boyle coming out with a song like this, because people would laugh–she isn’t beautiful! (But she has a killer voice, which should count for something.) It’s no coincidence that most of our pop stars are good-looking.
I do like Cara’s note at the end of the video:
I agree with her on one thing: The world should change its heart. Because treating beautiful people better is a form of discrimination* with real-life consequences, according to Business Insider:
Life really is easier for attractive people. They make more money, get promoted faster, and many times are simply more successful. And according to a new study, they have a much easier time job hunting…The average callback rate was 30% across all of the CVs sent out. For attractive women, it was 54%…Unattractive women had by far the worst results, with a 7% callback rate.
Saying “Everyone is beautiful” is sort of like saying “I don’t see race.” Admit there are differences in beauty, according to our American bullshit beauty standards. That’s the first step. Then we can go from there and work for equality.
*Obviously there are other, arguably bigger forms of discrimination, like racism, sexism, ableism, and so forth. But beauty is definitely one of them.