As women, we have a natural desire to feel beautiful. This longing was ingrained within us the moment that we were created by our loving Father, who fulfilled this desire in hopes that we would never forget how extraordinary we are. Females, by design, have been described in music, poetry, and historical texts as the most radiant and graceful creatures to ever step foot on this Earth. So why, then, have so many girls easily adopted the notion that they are unworthy of these praises? Why is the media telling them that they will never measure up, never completely embody what is beautiful? Like most things in this world, our perception of beauty has been distorted and manipulated to fit a certain criteria, placing harsh limitations on something that was originally destined for each of us. And as a result, we cannot help but fall short time and time again of what society has deemed "beautiful."

We forever envy the bodies of others and never fully appreciate our own. I'll be satisfied once I lose a few pounds. If only I had a clearer complexion and a smaller nose. I would kill for her bone structure. What exactly are we fighting for? The approval of others, a man's love, our own self-worth?But the longing continues, and gratification does not come. Maybe for an instant, here and there...

a new haircut,
a smaller jean size,
a compliment received.

These small "improvements" can instill a spark of confidence in our hearts, but it isn't long before the self-assurance has faded and we are back to step one. Despite what our personality, beliefs, and accomplishments say about us, we begin to define ourselves by the reflection in the mirror and the number on our scale. Makeup very rarely leaves our faces for fear that people will see how we appear underneath the facade. Ugly.  Flawed.  Displeasing. Magazine ads, television shows, and even modern literature paint a picture of "the ideal woman" inside of our heads. We imagine her as the best version of ourselves and vow to become no less.

Striving, competing, struggling.

But the truth is, we will never become this imaginary girl, so lovely and perfect. Yet, sadly, some of us die trying. Take it from me, a girl who's been there—trapped in a battle against myself, yearning to be set free from the rules and regulations of society's take on beauty. After eighteen years, I'm finally beginning to come to terms with the unfortunate reality that the media lies to us all...and that what I see on the cover of Seventeen Magazine is not only unattainable (by even the model depicted), but is also a false representation of what it means to be beautiful. The masterminds behind this deceit would hate for us to realize the simple truth that beauty does not come in one formone size, or one look. And contrary to popular belief, beauty does not equal perfection.  

If you're someone who's had trouble accepting this, I hope you know that you are not alone. Please don't ever forget that you are lovely because of your flaws, not despite them. So then, what does it mean to be beautiful?  I think that Audrey Hepburn sums it wonderfully: "The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It's the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years."

Photos 1, 2, & 3.