In celebration of International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day, Ladies! This special day comes on the heels of an unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice. Global marches and campaigns, including #MeToo and #TimesUp in the United States and their counterparts have broached issues ranging from sexual harassment and femicide to equal pay and women’s political representation.

While these issues are a long way off from being resolved, this day (and every day) is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of women around the world while also acknowledging that gender inequality still exists and the need for #PushForProgress movement. We could speak for days on the woman who inspire us, who run their own businesses (cheers to sundays’ founder and CEO AmyLing Lin!), who are making waves in the political and social fronts. But we’re celebrating all women, everywhere. We’re celebrating you.

A small, but significant component of gender inequality stems from unrealistic beauty standards. Women today are constantly reminded of what is considered “beautiful” via thousands of advertisements and other forms of media that promote this elusive image of the ideal woman. Men are often acknowledged by what they do, while women are seen by how they look, a clear indication that males are active doers and females passive bystanders.

It’s nothing new that society has built up impossible standards of beauty, which, in turn, has led to feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. These internal struggles take a toll on confidence not only in one’s appearance, but abilities.

But these feelings of being flawed are, well, flawed. Caught in a catch-22, we feel bad because we don’t look like her, which makes us feel physically ugly, which lowers self-esteem, often making us forget about our talents, goals, and individual traits each of us have to offer.

We hear all too often that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. But are you listening?

The hackneyed saying goes, “Beauty fades.” It’s a cheap, one-dimensional statement that fails to take into account a (primarily female) person’s life account. Your experiences and actions, trials and triumphs—all of it contributes to what makes you you. What you take from these experiences, and how you treat those around you are what make you beautiful. It’s not flawless skin, or a straight smile. It’s not about beautifully buffed nails or attaining the stereotypical and often sexualized “bikini body.”

Now there’s nothing wrong with putting effort into your appearance. When you look good, you feel good. But when you feel good and care for your mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing, you look great. It’s the sparkle in your eyes, the pep in your step, a sincere smile…it’s your inner confidence that silently shouts to the world, “I am beautifully me!”

Beauty manifests itself from the inside. It’s not a fleeting characteristic that just disappears one day. Once you know and understand your own inner beauty and recognize it in others, that is something that will never change.

Tell us what makes the women in your life beautiful.

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