"Barbies" everywhere

What does it mean to be beautiful in the modern age?

Jovana Popović, 15, young reporter - UNICEF volunteer
Jovana Popović
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2019

05 November 2019

I have been standing motionless in front of the mirror for several hours now. I am inspecting my eyes, neck, waist and legs. I no longer see myself, a smiling 15-year-old girl. My perspective is obscured by all the faults I see on me. I nervously tap my foot while I compare my appearance with the look of models, whose Instagram photos I like every day. Why do not I have their sparkling smile, long shiny hair and narrow waist? Why am I not as perfect as they are? And what does it mean to be beautiful in the modern age?

“Dear girls, you are not pretty enough...” – this is the message we hear every day. As I walk down the corridors of my school, I see many so-called "plastic girls" who spend their entire lives in the pursuit of perfection, with the desire to meet the standards set by their "role models" on Instagram. I would usually smile and look at them with mild pity, at least I did until I realized that I was unconsciously doing the same thing and recognized that I was also blinded by fake beauty and fake lives, especially those led on social networks, where reality is mostly "photoshopped"!

According to a survey conducted by UNICEF and AEM in Montenegro, one out of every two children imitates their role models from TV. The internet, and in particular, social networks have the biggest impact on young people in Montenegro aged 12–17 years. But, do they all know that, for example, the photos of their favourite heroes are edited with the help of tools that can soften the contours, erase wrinkles, improve facial features, cover acne and change colour?

"And do we really want everyone to look the same – like Barbies?"

Therefore, dear girls (and young men) – keep in mind that your beauty is defined by your character, not by your physical appearance. And while you are standing in the room assessing your "beauty", when only the faults you see occupy your attention, I invite you to look at that mirror look through the eyes of a winner, not the eyes of a competitor.

Only those who admit to themselves that they have become puppets of this global problem and decide to cut the wires that hold them captive will discover true love for themselves. So, let us refuse to accept blindly everything that is put forward by bad and fake role models.

Let's be ourselves. Let's be media literate.