The Problem With The Saying “Beauty Is Pain”

“Beauty is pain.”

It’s a phrase all of us have heard since we were little. That beauty comes at a high cost—and a painful one. But do we realize how contradictory that phrase is?

We tell girls that they are beautiful just the way they are, but then we tell them that beauty is pain, and that we must suffer to be beautiful. We tell them that beauty is inherent but then we tell them beauty is a process—a painful one—and that it’s something to be achieved.

The pain of wearing heels, getting your eyebrows waxed, spending hours straightening your hair while at risk of getting burned.  We go through all these steps to finally reach beauty. If we want to be beautiful we must pay the cost.

The phrase “beauty is pain” makes it seem like there’s all these tasks we have to endure, all these rules we have to conform to, to be beautiful. It makes girls who don’t do these things feel ugly. I’ve known many girls who don’t feel pretty unless they’ve put glob all over their eyelashes; spent hours heating out the curls of their hair; or sat through the pain of getting their eyebrow threaded. Then they defend these extra steps of uncomfort—and sometimes agony—with the phrase “oh well, I guess beauty is pain.”

This only enforces the idea that we must accomplish all these tasks in order to be beautiful. Just think about it: guys are never told that beauty is pain, or that they need to suck it up and hold in their tears while they’re getting their hair relaxed—because their natural look is already accepted by society. But why aren’t women’s?

Why should we have to poke ourselves in the eye with mascara every day to be considered beautiful? Why should we have to feel the burn of acrylic nails to consider ourselves worthy of people’s attention?

Just like Colbie Caillat said in her song Try:

Put your make-up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?

Wait a second,
Why, should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away

You don’t have to suffer to be beautiful. Stop telling girls that beauty is pain, it’s not, you’re beautiful just the way you are.


Jane Potocki

Contributor, Asbury University Major/Minor: Journalism & Spanish Her heart belongs to: Jesus Christ. My adorable cat Joey. Good music and my homeland Africa. Take her away to: Italy, Spain, or Croatia, my dream travel destinations.

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