Toronto Taught Me These 3 Ways To Challenge Beauty Standards & Embrace Who You Are

July 2, 2020

Living in Toronto has given me a deep appreciation for the many different types of people in the world. The city is called a “melting pot” for a reason. What I’ve found to be truly fascinating and liberating, is how many different types of women there are here. I’m not only talking about nationality, but also in terms of beauty and personal style choices. 

I’ve always admired the free-spirited nature of this city, so different than the cookie-cutter culture in which I grew up. Being here makes me want to embrace the parts of myself I’ve hidden; it makes me feel like I can be whoever I want and look however I want. Well, that’s the goal, anyway. But right now, admiring so many different, beautiful women has made me awfully self-conscious. 

Questions like “am I pretty enough, skinny enough, interesting enough” circle my mind constantly. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way—beauty standards are the bane of women’s existence world wide. And as free-spirited and unique as I view the women of this city to be, they, undoubtedly, have felt the same way I do now. 

As we push towards a more female-empowered society in North America, advertising and social media have begun to challenge traditional beauty standards. We’re even beginning to see celebrities like Billie Eilish reject what the norm for entertainers has become: selling through sex and textbook femininity. 

The body positive movement is catching on, too. Women of all sizes are wearing what they want, despite what the public deems as “skinny-people clothing.” Women have begun to embrace their body hair, celebrating it instead of getting rid of something that is natural for us to have as women. (When did shaving become a thing women had to do, anyway?!) 

I’m seeing women of all types embracing these wonderful movements, challenging the societal norms of femininity, and it’s truly inspiring. But yet, here I am, afraid to go outside without concealer on my face or straightening my curly hair. If you’re anything like me and need a push to embrace and celebrate who you truly are, I hoe these 3 ideas can do that for you, like I hope they will do for me. 

1. Keep it natural

I’ve often said that my hair is too curly to be worn out in public. It’s crazy how I’m only now realizing how crazy that sounds. Try embracing your natural curl pattern—or lack there of. I’ve also said I’m too pale to go out without makeup on my face. But when I’m alone I let my curly hair go wild and rock no makeup without a thought. 

So it seems I’m becoming someone else just for society’s sake. Just so others can perceive me in a different way. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with wearing makeup or trying a different look—I will always love the way my hair looks straight and the way my eyes get brighter with mascara—but what I’m aiming for is to be able to love and accept my natural hair and face as well, in all settings. 

2. Stop idealizing diet culture

For as long as I can remember, the words “I need to eat better,” “I need to lose weight,” and “I need to exercise more” have been a constant in my conversations. Even when I was underweight, eating a raw diet and exercising 7 days a week. If there is one thing the pandemic has taught me, it’s to slow down and enjoy food, enjoy being still, enjoy the movement that I get in in a day. And as uncomfortable as that has been for a lot of the time, I’ve come to appreciate the process. 

3. Wear what you want

My skin is blotchy in a lot of places. That means so far this summer I have confined myself to t-shirts that cover my back and chest. I haven’t let myself wear any cute sleeveless summer shirts, shorts, or dresses. And let me tell you, it kind of sucks. While I love the t-shirt and jeans look, it would be awesome to feel comfortable enough to show my back in shirts or wear certain outfits. 

The funny thing is the only thing stopping me, is me. There may be the one person who says, what is that?, but mostly people are too worried about their own flaws to notice or care about yours. And even if they do, why do I care so much?

The first step is to try. This coming week I vow to make a small change in one of these directions. Be it, not wearing mascara or wearing a sleeveless top to the park. Stay tuned next week to see how that goes.  

Also by Nea: What Having Vitiligo Taught Me—& How I Learned To Love My Skin

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Photo: Austin, Carpenter, Allgo, and Aleksandrova via Unsplash.

Nea Pantry
Nea is a vegan and gluten-free baker currently living in Bermuda. She is a huge vegan foodie, an aspiring writer and a lover of poetry. Traveling often, her goals are to seek out new cultures and experiences, to learn as much as she can and to spread the message of peace, love and kindness always.

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