Bratz, Barbies, Cinderrellas and Cindy Crawfords. As a youngling I remember thinking that only way a woman was beautiful was if she looked like a Victoria's Secrets model, or was an imortailized Disney figure. I believed in that idea so throughly that I never thought I would ever attain any status similar to desirable. That idea lingered but never affected me in my tom-boy years. The realisation that desirable could look like something more hit me like a soft cloud. It smothered me suffocated my idea of what the female body should look like. It was a few years ago when some of my high school chums and I retrieved to my house, which had become our habitual after school hang out. It was a Friday and as all Fridays went, we were going out. Many of the times we didn't know where or how but we knew we were going somewhere. I was rather estranged with one of these friends and our friendship was one maintained by association 'you're friends with my friends and vice versa so lets just be friends'. I never really took notice of her, I only ever saw her in school uniform and under those circumstances there wasn't much to notice (I suppose if you did notice anything about someone in uniform that defeats the purpose of the uniform). She changed out of viciously dull and extraordinarily oridinay school uniform and traded it for the standard casual clothing for high school girls of the time. Black Leggings, the classic top shop crop top and a denim jacket so plain I named it Jane- Jane the jean jacket, yes I named my friends' jacket.
Standing straight in front of you she looked slender and boxy. There was no hint of a female silhouette until she was in motion. While she couldn't compete with the likes of Kim K and Blac Chyna she was quite formidable in her figure once she came out the miserable trenches of our school uniform- I suppose we all were. Her silhouette outshined her plain dress and it was in that moment that I saw her and she looked ever as desirable as any model with classic female features that was intensely glamourised by the media. She wasn't brutally far from them but she wasn't them exactly. It dawned on me that other people saw her and never compared her to the latest doll gracing the cover of their favourite fashion publication. She was looked at as an individual and she was beautiful.
With movements advocating female rights, gay rights, gender and race equality we also have a fundamental change in the way we think about what figure is desirable and what isn't. During the Paris Hilton days there was one form that was hot and everything else was not. Social media and the rise of Media stars has subtly changed the eye of the beholder. Before body advocates and body movements we were conditioned to believed in once type of beauty but my realisation came because I simply could not deny the beauty before my eyes. If there was no media, no glamour and no celebrities to tell us what should be ideal, she would be. From that day I learnt that beauty really comes in all forms. the only time we can't or won't see something or someone as anything else is because we've been programmed through different channels to think otherwise. From that day on I decided to look at people OUTSIDE of context. Outside the context of society and what the media approves and everyone else follows. When I started looking at people as individuals and not an aesthetic to be measured and judged by, I found so many new types of beauty in people so unconventional its almost criminal.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, don't let that beholder be the media. Be the beholder.
Words: Kiara Danielle Pather