Rethink the Way You See Beauty

In the wee hours of the night, I fought sleep by falling into the deep dark rabbit hole that is BuzzFeed videos. For some reason unbeknownst to me, perhaps the lonely night or my lack of sleep, my video selection moved onto the sentimental side of BuzzFeed. I watched videos of what makes people cry; long distance relationships, adoration of best friends, the list could go on, but I want to stop it at a certain video.

It hit me right in the feels. I could go into detail, but I’ll save that for your own viewing pleasure. The main point I want to get across here is that all of the people mentioned someone they were close to: their mom, their sister, their best friend. I had clicked on the video expecting  people to mention models, actresses, and other figures that the public has deemed as externally beautiful. It was a surprise to see real people chosen instead .

The next day an investigation of what beauty is fevered my mind. I looked up videos about beauty and found some really powerful pieces. To my surprise, they were actually Dove commercials. Dove Choose Beautiful is a particularly powerful one to me in the fact that it reached an international audience and gave women the power to choose to think of themselves as beautiful. The previously mentioned video and their other pieces encourage women and young girls to feel beautiful about themselves.

Across the world, beauty is often seen as skin deep. In South Korea, plastic surgery is a common graduation gift for young girls and a must for most women. In many African countries, women and men alike use creams and go to skin whitening salons to achieve lighter skin tones which are considered more beautiful by some. In the U.S. there is a great debate on the use of Photoshop in advertisements, which distort our perceptions of achievable beauty.

What Do Regular People Think?

But that’s just what news articles say, what about the people I actually know? I asked many of my friends and coworkers the question ‘Who is the most beautiful person you know?’ No matter what part of the world they were from, most people answered with someone who they thought was outwardly beautiful. Someone who was famous on instagram, a coworker who was known to be wanted by many, an actress that starred in many films. A few, however, chose people like their moms or their close friends. As expected, most chose to name someone with outer beauty. Unexpectedly, some chose people that they considered to be beautiful both in and out.

Conversations I had with two friends. 

Conversations I had with two friends. 

It’s not surprising that when we think of beauty, we think primarily of outward appearance. It’s what we see everyday. It’s what we’re used to because of advertisements and social media. I would even dare to say that if someone had asked me that question before I went on this beauty campaign, I would have answered with the prettiest girl among my coworkers. It may even sometimes be difficult to call someone beautiful if they are not extremely pretty or good looking, for fear that others will judge our tastes of what is beautiful or attractive.

What Do I Think of Beauty?

Now after much thought, I can give my honest opinion of who I think is the most beautiful person I know. One of our own HKC members, Katarina.

The beautiful Katarina

The beautiful Katarina

I could rave on and on about how great of a person Katarina is. Every since I met her in the sixth grade she has been a caring, benevolent friend, who is just plain incredible. She writes wonderfully; she thinks of her friends and family often; she cares for society and the good of people. I have never seen her truly hate anyone. She is smart and bookish, but does not flaunt her knowledge. She has so many friends because of her wonderful personality. I believe she makes the people she’s around feel worthy, and that’s one of the main reasons she’s so beautiful. It’s her life essence that shines to show true beauty.

At one point in high school after coming in contact with a very unagreeable person, Katarina vowed never to hate anyone ever again. It hurt her to do so. When I was going through a horrible part of my life Katarina drove me 20 minutes away from school to show me a hidden bee keeping farm. She did it to make me feel better, even though she had other, more pressing plans that day. The times we danced in our school’s parking lot after hours of theatre, I would turn to see her being exactly who she was in the midst of the beat: free, light, and uninhibited by the social pressure to not dance crazily in public.

I could go on and on about Katarina. I rave about her all the time. I even made a video for her a while ago. However, I’ll stop here in order to move on with the post.

By identifying who I think is the most beautiful person I know, I believe I have opened my mind to seeing beauty as more than skin deep. Even on the surface, maybe a person isn’t drop-dead gorgeous, but I can see their beautiful smile, shining eyes, delicate hands, or soothing voice. Or maybe it is their continuous devotion to academic pursuits, or their love of life, or their deep appreciation for culture that makes them beautiful to me.

I want to look at beauty differently, mostly because I want to see myself, other people, and my surroundings as beautiful.

I now consciously make an effort to find beauty in all things. And it all started with that video and me asking myself the question ‘Who is the most beautiful person I know?’

You can change the way you see beauty as well. You can choose to see beauty everywhere. Maybe the first question I should ask you is ‘Who is the most beautiful person you know?’



Raquel “Rocky” Reinagel is a MA candidate and graduate assistant in the Department of Second Language Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa; former president of Hanwoori Hawaiʻi; and Co-President of the Second Language Studies Student Association (SLSSA) at UHM.