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My friend Suzy always felt too tall to be beautiful, she is a delicate five foot six in her shoes, Growing up in the Far East she was told a beautiful woman is polite, and unassuming – not tall. I’m five foot nine and grew up in England.
When I heard Suzy’s story I had to smile. Catwalk models are often six feet or taller, but here we were on opposite sides of the globe, both counting our size as a liability for some reason. When I was six I had blonde curly hair and blue eyes; (now it’s brown and I have green eyes, don’t know what happened there!), my family went on holiday to Africa, and my white skin and blonde curls caused quite a stir. Back in England, I felt just normal and ordinary, but suddenly, through African eyes, I was beautiful. My mom remembers strangers coming up to us and staring, patting my hair.
This poses the question; is beauty always something exotic, something we don’t see in ourselves? Does beautiful necessarily mean the Western ideal? Movies, television and advertising have all tried to sell us on the idea that there is only one way a woman can be beautiful and that is if she’s young, beautiful and very, very thin. This disqualifies about 99 per cent of the world’s women.
We go to great extremes to fit the beauty prescription. In many places, no expense is spared. Even in countries with prevalent poverty, women are willing to go to extreme lengths to achieve the ‘right’ look.
We pluck, we shave, we wrap ourselves in spandex, we wear impractical shoes knowing high heels cause serious damage to backs, legs and feet, but we still wear them. We have convinced ourselves that looking a little thinner, a little taller, a little leaner is worth the pain.
However, your look does not give people the right to judge you, I don’t believe in one person being better than another, or things like fat being better than thin, or tall being better than short. We’re all equals and always have been, we are the same under the skin and our blood is the same colour, whatever you look like and wherever you are from, we are all thinking, feeling human beings and everyone has something to contribute to this life and to the lives of others.