Can we truly look past a person’s exterior to better understand who they are? Our world has created a caste system based solely on how we look, and this look is most often determined, not by our own desires, but by industries that understand what we fear most: not being accepted. So what if you are at the top of this ladder, based off a manufactured ideal, and yet are still not accepted? Hollywood is the battleground for this type of behaviour, where beauty is pitted against beauty.
“In this town [Hollywood] you constantly have to undermine yourself to appease other people.”
— Caitlin Stasey, StyleLikeU
I think it’s important to mention that no matter how people perceive your ‘look,’ it doesn’t define who you are or make you less beautiful than your favourite athlete, model, musician, or any other person you admire. Yet, no matter how many times we hear this, many of us still ignore the truth of it. What most people don’t realize is that it’s not the looks you’re after from these figures, but really the qualities that they emulate. But again, it’s all in how we perceive things. We assume that because someone looks how we perceive most people desire, that they have it all. And that if we looked that way too, we could finally achieve and understand what it really means to be happy and accepted.
We often assume we understand how a person’s life is based on how they look. In today’s society, that means that if someone is considered beautiful, they must have had a leg up in life — and they probably now have the perfect relationship, a successful job, and a social circle we can only dream of, amongst other things. But if we can instead desire to learn more about a person’s story rather than their beauty routine, we can push to create a deeper connection, a connection that can ripple into how we connect and interact with any person or stranger we encounter in life. And we might learn that every human struggles, not just the supposedly ‘ugly’ ones.
Caitlin Stasey is a Hollywood actor who shares all the tribulations that come with being perceived as ‘beautiful.’ She explains how in Hollywood, the bar for beauty changes every time someone steps into a casting room. Finding a flaw is easy, and actors can be branded in an instant based on a casting director’s mood, opinion, or feeling about them: “I then got a phone call from my manager being like, yeah the director doesn’t think you’re sexy any more, he think’s you’re just a mouthy girl next door, because I was wearing high waisted jeans.”
“As a woman, as a white woman I can turn on the television, I can see my physical self represented, I can see many, many women like me but the forms I find them in are often are so contrived are so sexualized.”
This isn’t just a challenge actors face, it’s a challenge every woman and man faces when they enter a room. But we are the sum of all our experiences. Whatever we expose ourselves most to will have a lasting effect on us psychologically and determines how we behave and perceive others, so if you’re someone who buries their head in fashion magazines, or fantasizes over Sports Illustrated models, it’s likely your perception of beauty and what you deem desirable will be balancing on a very narrow and illusory line.
Elisa and Lily, a mother and daughter duo and the masterminds behind StyleLikeU, are working on breaking down these walls fashion magazines and the media have built. They created a docu-style video series in 2014 titled “The What’s Underneath Project,” which profiles “people of all ages, races, body types, genders and abilities remove layers of clothing while sharing honest, empowering stories related to style, self-image and identity.”
Caitlin Stasey’s interview is very relevant right now and worthy of a view. She describes the revelation of discovering that, while each of us work so hard to be accepted, the people we are trying to impress really don’t care — they have already made up their mind about you and are worrying about the same things you are. This realization can offer each of us freedom, and allows us to break from the cycle of expectations that restrict our behaviour and how we choose to express ourselves outwardly.
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Caitlin is an advocate for women’s rights and has dedicated her time to creating her own series that showcases women of all ages, races, and sizes. You can visit Herself.com here if you’re interested in learning more.
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