Womens Health

Snow White and America's Quest for Beauty

| by

“Who’s the fairest of them all?” – This seems to be the question echoing throughout every magazine, reality TV show, and even overheard conversation: Youth, Beauty, Perfection – it is our obsession. And, like the wicked Queen, we will stop at nothing to get it.

Face lifts, botox, lip plumps, liposuction, tweezing, waxing, push-ups, sit-ups, starving…We need to be young, we need to be beautiful, and we will get what we want. It is one of the most self-centered, narcissistic, goals, and yet it is based on a very subconscious desire.

Do we really know why we must appear perpetually 21?

Or why beauty only looks a certain way? Nowadays it is something that is pretty much taught: we are taught what is ‘Fair’ by fashion magazines, car commercials, and music videos, and then we pass down these ‘life lessons’ to friends, younger siblings, younger cousins, and, eventually, our children. Yes, even our children.

You may not realize it, but your daughter hears every word you say about your body. And she is constantly comparing herself to you. So if you have ‘monster thighs’? Well, her thighs are ‘just like mommy’s’ and mommy taught her they are not OK. See, we have been rejected. We have been rejected and replaced by the youthful, by the beautiful.

On the covers of magazines we are told we are not enough, by exercise equipment and diet commercials we are told we are not enough, by our boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses we are told we are not enough, and then by the lies in our head we are told we are not enough. And we watch as we are replaced by youth and ‘perfect’ beauty – Megan Fox, Kim Kardashian, Miranda Kerr – and our hearts begin to turn cold, and a monster rises up within us, and the wicked queen takes over.

And she will stop at nothing. We stand in front of the mirror day after day, anxious, desperate, and trembling. And we talk to it, and we join forces with it, ganging up on our own bodies. And we chant the same words every time: fat, ugly, old, wrinkled, sagging, pale – “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” – and we know it’s not us. And so the torture must go on.

And as we continue to torture and punish our bodies – we are sucking the youth out of those around us. Our sisters, our cousins, our daughters – they age before our very eyes as their innocent youth – the youth that once allowed them to think they were enough – is sucked out of them, and in their mirrors their reflections become old, ugly, and fat. And every time we put someone else down – our friends, our siblings, our coworkers, Angeline Jolie – we are doing the same thing. We are sucking the life from them in order to feed our own desire. And our appetite is insatiable.

And young girls are dying. They are taking in the lies that we aren’t protecting them from, the lies that we sometimes even feed to them. And they starve as they reject one appetite to feed another. No one is left satisfied. No one is a winner. But here is the piece of the story we missed: Snow White. Kristen Stewart aside, we watch as Snow White rises up as a leader: she is strong, courageous, and loving. She puts others before herself and does not give up.

And she is the fairest of them all. Can it really be said what made Snow White so great was her beauty? Clearly there was so much more to her than that. So maybe aspiring to be like this heroine is not a bad thing – we just have to make sure we don’t look at her through the wicked Queen’s eyes, who saw nothing but her outer appearance. If we look at Snow White for who she is, we can see a woman that many should look up to.

I may not know the original Snow White story well (before it was interpreted by Disney and then Rupert Sanders), but I think it’s a fair assumption to say that I doubt she spent much time looking in the mirror and calling herself old or ugly, actually, I doubt she spent much time looking in the mirror at all…