Flipping It: How 200 Girls Redefined "Beautiful"
Creativity doesn’t usually make my short-list of qualities that create inner beauty. Normally, I tick off characteristics like kindness, charity, and empathy. When I hear the word “creativity,” I tend to think of works of art. I imagine lovely frescoes, soaring concertos, beautiful paintings, or even a moody boy with a guitar in a coffee shop. When creativity relates to works of art, it is easy to see something exquisite. A creative person creates beautiful things.
But this month, I was asked to contemplate how creativity creates inner beauty. And I immediately thought of a group of high school girls from Colleyville, Texas. Tired of society’s narrow definition of beauty, the group decided to start a new club at Colleyville High School. They called themselves “Redefining Beautiful,” printed matching baby blue shirts, and challenged one another to skip make-up on Tuesdays. Going make-up free once a week might not seem like a big deal, but I remember high school -– social lives flourished on account of a well-done face. If anything, I wore make-up to look like everyone else.
The last thing I wanted was to stand out for a bare face.
In an interview with ABC News, the girls said that make-up is just part of a bigger body-confidence problem for young women, who are constantly trying to achieve the perfection they see in magazines and in movies.
"They rely so much on their self image that they forget, 'I'm here to learn. I'm here to make a difference,'" said senior Emily Gates in the interview.
"They also kind of lose a sense of self," added senior Laura Kelly. "We want people to feel confident in who they really are."
I’m astonished at their creativity. These girls looked at a problem that’s been around for decades –- teenagers’ poor self-confidence and over-reliance on make-up and fashion -– and flipped it, suddenly making makeup-free cool again.
Over time, the group grew to include more than 200 students, and other chapters started in schools across the country as the media caught wind of Redefining Beautiful.
Art is beautiful. But the type of creativity that involves challenging social norms and instituting widespread change –- well, that’s just inspiring.
Do you want to change your definition of beautiful? Try these creative activities, which are always great to do with kids, too:
- Inflate a balloon. Take a marker and write all the negative messages society sends about how your body should look (for example: “No wrinkles,” or “Tan skin”). Once you’ve finished writing down this negativity on the balloon, close your eyes and imagine yourself letting it all go. Place the balloon under your shoe, and pop it.
- Create a homemade card for a wonderful woman in your life, write a letter describing her admirable characteristics, and drop it in the mail.
- Write your body a love poem. Keep it in your wallet to re-read whenever you feel sad.
- On a sheet of butcher’s paper, freehand draw a life-size outline of your entire body. Then, on another sheet of paper, lay down and have a friend trace the outline of your body. How do the drawings of the body differ? Do you "see" yourself accurately?
What are some creative ways that you cultivate inner beauty?
More Own Your Beauty on BlogHer
- Does Your Daughter Feel Pretty? Do You?
- On Being Multi-Racial in the Racist, Rural South
- Expressive Dressing: Look Good With What You've Got
Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.
This blogger is also featured on EndlessBeauty.com, a website focused on a fresh look at beauty, from skin to hair to makeup, plus celeb style, fashion, and fitness.
Caitlin blogs at Operation Beautiful.