As women, how many of us try to epitomize the image that society says we should look like? How many of us run out every two months to purchase that Yaki, Wet &Wavy, or Silky hair weave, in hopes that our stylists are able to give us the look that Beyoncé or Gabrielle Union is currently sporting? Why do we feel un-pretty unless we have these enhancements? Why do we let society dictate what the perfect size is?Aren’t we society?

In 2003, Teen magazine reported that 35 percent of girls 6 to 12-years-old have been on at least one diet and that 50 to 70 percent of normal weight girls believe they are overweight. I shudder to think what those numbers are now. I remember as I was growing up, being skinny meant you weren’t getting enough to eat at home, and you needed some meat on your bones. Nowadays, being a size 0 is “In,” and being a healthy weight is equivalent to being overweight. As young girls grow up with such high standards of beauty on television, the need to be beautiful is often times dangerous and mentally damaging. When will we learn to embrace our hips, our thighs and our natural hair? What happened to that “Phenomenal Woman”?

As a teenager, like many other young girls, I wanted to be the image that was “In,” the image displayed on all the music videos, the image that every other black girl in my neighborhood was striving for. The Microwave Ponytails, glue-in tracks, and asymmetrical hair designs are what determined who was hot and who were not. Therefore, I was convinced that those were the looks I needed to have. Whatever extra money I could get my hands on was turned over to the beauty supply to get my pack of 12-inch number 4. In those days, the Asian guy behind the counter was my supplier, and I was his loyal client. Heck, even at age of 15, I was addicted. Now even years later as an adult, I still find myself being pulled into the falsehoods of what supposedly defines beauty. This time around though, I’m more prepared. I know now that no matter what magazines and television tells me, beauty comes in abundance. From her shapely hips, to my full lips, from your voluptuous curves to her short hair, beauty is in us. Beauty isn’t just what we view on television. Beauty isn’t about being a size 0 with long, flowing hair. It isn’t about having that easy, breezy Cover Girl look. Beauty is within all of us. I just wish it hadn’t taken me all those trips to the beauty supply to find this out.