Last summer, I competed in my county pageant. Before you jump to any conclusions, I am only going to highlight the interviewing portion of my pageantry experience. I had to sit, back straight and hands nicely folded on my wrinkle-free skirt, as a table of three judges expeditiously asked me all sorts of questions. It was a very intimidating process of sticking to my morals and hoping they found it appealing. One question, in particular lingered in my mind long after the crown was announced. “Do you think young women in today’s society are negatively affected by social media and magazines?”
Yes, I deeply believe that young women in today’s society are negatively affected by social media and magazines. During this stage when girls are transitioning into young women, they are easily impressed, persuaded and influenced. Life is very confusing during this time, and young women don’t even know who they are, so how are they supposed to know who they want to be?
Glossy magazines with covers of thin, exposed women with flawless features are enough to make girls subconscious about their full cheeks and hairy arms. Instagram posts of pretty girls with perfect hair and highlighted cheekbones manipulate a pointless double-tap into hours of scrolling and a harmful habit of comparing. It’s gotten to the point where big celebrities make public statements warning young women about the dangers of being influenced by this propaganda. I don’t think it’s fair for big medias to hide the natural beauty of being a woman; I get tired of the airbrushed and unrealistic images that abandon the significance of being who you are.
There’s a difference between a girl wanting to do her makeup to look nice and a girl feeling like she needs makeup to look nice. There’s a difference between a girl using a Snapchat filter and a girl editing her pics to look skinnier for Instagram. There are boundaries between insecurity and confidence, and with the universal pressure of women to look a certain way — it’s easy to feel insecure. I praise those who find confidence in themselves. Hang onto that and don’t let anyone dull your sparkle. Women are powerful; we all look different. We weren’t made to be in uniform; we’re all unique.
Embrace your freckles, acne and birthmarks. Our bodies don’t define who we are, and anyone who makes you feel differently is just as bad as the glossy magazines and facetuned pictures that mask the true beauty of being unapologetically you. Participating in a pageant encouraged me to have more confidence in myself, and it taught me that every girl and woman deserves a crown. Compete with no one and be your own queen in this beauty pageant world.
Jaidyn Yarber is a freshman English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]