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"Look beyond the mirror and appreciate real beauty"
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"Look beyond the mirror and appreciate real beauty"

Sonia QuaminaWe in the Commonwealth owe it to ourselves to educate young people about accepting self and appreciating that beauty comes with individuality, writes Sonia Quamina, a 25-year-old from Arima, in Trinidad and Tobago.

“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

As we got ready to go out one night, taking a moment to dress and get dolled up, my sister’s friend turned to me and said: “I can’t stand you, you always look nice.”

I was taken aback by her words because I don’t think I look even a little nice most times. Some days I don’t even look in the mirror because I am afraid that I may have to change and I simply want to avoid criticizing myself.

The day progressed but the thought stayed with me, the thought that this teenager compared herself to me, someone she thought was nicer than her.

I continued to ponder what I compare myself to and realized that, based on my image of beauty, that I had decided that I was unattractive.

In this age of globalization, with images coming at you from every possible angle, it seems that while the media preys on our minds and erodes our idea of self and what is right, no one is really trying to counter these negative attitudes.

Our little boys and girls grow up trying to fit into images of what they “should be”. They bleach their skin, alter hair textures, steal clothes or have sex to seek approval and feel loved – the list can go on forever. But why should it?

Why isn’t anyone letting them know that they look fine and that they are loved for who they are? More importantly, that they should be loved and appreciated for the simple fact that all that is of value is not seen with the naked eye.

If the whole world were blind to whom would they appeal? If people only saw through their ears and listened with their hearts, who would they impress? If vision was limited to what the mind envisioned and eye-sight was an unknown capacity, would our worth remain substantial?

If we didn’t have looks to depend on, who would want to get to know you? If our words were the main representation of who you are, could you still paint a pretty picture of yourself? Would it be an accurate illustration or an appropriate presentation?

If everyone you knew was blind, how then would we appear? Could we rely on our actions to motivate the desire to acquire more information? These are all very pertinent questions that no one bothers to ask, or to provoke the youth ask themselves.

Along with academic education, I believe that we in the Commonwealth owe it to ourselves as global citizens to begin to educate our youth about accepting self and the beauty that comes with individuality. We must look beyond the surface to determine worth.

If we start now these lessons will begin to permeate society and create a better future for those to come. We have to start somewhere, so why not start here, and now?

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