Not Everyone is Beautiful

Peggy Li, Columnist

Have you ever seen someone walking around campus and been shocked at how utterly beautiful they are? When it’s happened to me, I can’t help but stare out of disbelief. ‘Is that person real? … They can’t be real … But they are …’

There are some beautiful people in this world. And I mean exactly that: only ‘some’ people are truly beautiful. However, as of late, magazines and popular opinion have been promoting the notion that everyone is, indeed, beautiful. Does anyone actually believe this?

There are certain feelings of awkwardness and guilt that arise when discussing other people’s appearances. We often say ‘everyone is beautiful’ in the context of trying to comfort an insecure friend or if someone asks us the age-old question, ‘am I cute?’ in order to avoid unpleasant interactions. Obviously, we’re not about to tell our friends they’re hideous. But implicit in saying that “everyone is beautiful” is the notion that everyone needs to be beautiful.

The goal behind the idea of universal beauty is for us as a society to stop obsessing so much over superficial looks and beauty because everyone else has it too. People don’t obsess about having two hands because almost everyone does, in fact, possess two hands. It’s normal to be that way. In actuality however, the phrase produces the opposite effect. When everyone has something in order to be ‘normal’ or fit in, it essentially becomes a requirement for membership in society. When you say ‘everyone is beautiful’ instead of setting people at ease, it implies that ‘everyone needs to be beautiful.’ It normalizes beauty in such a way that in order to fit in, to be accepted, you need to be beautiful because that’s what everyone else is.

The issue doesn’t stop there: The issue with saying ‘everyone is beautiful’ also lies in the nature of the characteristic itself. In my mind, beauty is and should be something exceptional or abnormal. Imagine that instead of saying ‘everyone is beautiful’ you replaced beautiful with any other distinct trait: ‘everyone is funny,’ or ‘everyone has a great memory.’ You wouldn’t say anything like that because it’s blatantly false. Just like beauty, those are exceptional characteristics.

And honestly, what’s so bad about saying you don’t find someone pretty? Saying that I don’t find Sally particularly attractive should be no more an insult than saying I think Sally talks a lot. Maybe I’m wrong and Sally is actually quite shy, but even if I am right, it’s not a personal attack.

Does it matter if I don’t think Hillary Clinton and Mother Teresa are beautiful? No, because they’ve accomplished feats that surpass simply being easy on the eyes as you pass on the street. People don’t need to be beautiful because there is so much more in life. I don’t make friends with a person because they’re pretty, I make friends with someone because they’re funny, interesting to talk to, or understand me on some level. Even in relationships, beyond initial attraction, I don’t think anyone would date a psychotic maniac, even if they looked like a Victoria’s Secret model.

If I were the first female president of the United States, why would it matter if I have huge pores or a unibrow? If I’m a surgeon saving people’s lives, will anyone care that I am 50 pounds overweight (especially if I myself don’t)?

By saying that ‘everyone is beautiful,’ you assign beauty the importance of ‘everyone has eyes’ when in reality, beauty is like a side dish (not quite necessary, but nice if you can afford it). Not everyone is beautiful, and not everyone needs to be beautiful – there are more important things in life than looks.