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Well, this was originally an essay for English...practice for the new SAT...but it means a lot to me, so I thought why not post it? Basically, this is just a really short summary of my novel, Defining Happiness.

If the style seems weird or too formal or whatever, keep in mind that I wrote this in response to a prompt. The question was: Should we let others influence our perception of beauty? I think you'll clearly find my answer :)

Submitted:Feb 5, 2007    Reads: 285    Comments: 3    Likes: 0   

��������� �All you have to do is walk in the door of Victoria's Secret.� There you will find pictures of the hottest, skinniest, sexiest girls of America.� With barely any clothes on, these models are sending us a message: we should be jealous. �I, for one, am very uncomfortable with this notion.� Why must we let these skinny girls define beauty for us?� Whenever we do, it leads to disastrous consequences; it can make us shallow, unhappy and selfish.� I know from personal experience.

����������� I used to weigh one hundred and twenty pounds.� At five foot seven, that was pretty skinny.� People used to compliment me on my weight all the time, telling me how jealous they were or how they loved my "long and lean" figure. Several years ago, I remember buying a pair of jeans - size 0 - and I was so happy to fit into them!� We got home and when I modeled them for my mom, she said "Oh honey you are so skinny! I don't even think I was that skinny when I was your age."� I also remember a time when my neighbor told me I should grow up and become a model, just because I had the body for it.� All those compliments made me feel good; they made me feel beautiful.

����������� When I entered high school however, things drastically changed.� I went from a skinny stick to just your average girl.� People didn't notice my body anymore because it wasn't anything out of the ordinary.� Looking back, I wish I had taken this in stride and been proud that people weren't noticing my body anymore, proud that they were noticing something deeper: the person inside.� Instead, I started caring about my weight, continually longing to be my old self - my old skinny self.� I thought that was what people wanted to see and I thought it would make me happy.

�Instead of finding happiness, I found materialism.� Before high school, I had been homeschooled; my main influence was that of my mother, not hundreds of other teen girls.� Back then fashion didn't matter so much, weight didn't matter at all and I was almost completely carefree.� But gaining weight and entering high school forced me to focus on clothes, makeup, and the shape of my body.� Society convinced me that these things were important in life.� I'm not saying these things are bad - just that they shouldn't be what consumes a girls mind almost 100% of the time.

Well last year at my church youth group, something changed my mind.� It was a video about slavery in India.� They showed images of emaciated, destitute little children.� Although it wasn't the first time I had seen this kind of thing before, that night I was touched.� I suddenly realized that "skinny" is not what constitutes beauty.� I realized that I had spent so much time thinking about myself, trying to live up to the standards of others, that I had forgotten to see the big picture.� The world can be cruel and horrific things can happen to innocent people; external beauty plays no part in that.� At that moment, I was ready to dump my selfish lifestyle and go help someone truly in need.

As a teenager in today's society, I can say with assurance that we should not let other people tell us what is beautiful and what is not. By believing that skinny means pretty, I spent years living a life that was not me.� I became lost in my own little world - discontent, materialistic and unable to see beyond my walls. The old adage "Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder" now rings true in my ears.� I am now a much happier person because I live out those words every single day.


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