A Note From The Editor: We are very aware that the words we publish in this space and in our print issues have power. Even more so, we’re in awe of how your words, our dear Darling readers, keep us encouraged and motivated in the mission to redefine what true beauty looks like — in the media and in culture — so that all women everywhere can feel known, loved, whole and worthy. We want to start sharing these words with you as well, because YOU are the real voice and agent of change. 


From Darling reader Jen Bakos:

As a teenager, I loved reading the latest from women’s magazines like SeventeenLuckyCosmopolitanand Glamour. While hanging out with friends, we would take breaks from our homework to flip through these magazines and chat about the latest fashion, celebrity, and beauty trends sprinkled throughout their authoritative pages. As a teenage girl, you can’t help but idolize, and consequently compare yourself to, these women. I vividly remember the moment in middle school when one of my friends said, “Hey. You know, with a little work you would totally look like her!” In all honesty, I don’t even remember who that “her” was.

What I do remember was she had flawless skin, no braces, weighed at least 30 pounds less than me, and had legs for days. I know my friend meant her comment with the best intentions, but it still rattled me. I suddenly despised the imperfections, I now know to make me uniquely beautiful, instead of embracing them.

Puberty is hard enough as it is to simultaneously be comparing yourself to a stunning supermodel or celebrity who doesn’t even look like her photoshopped facade. In a society that allows the unrealistic beauty standards set by magazines to be the “norm,” it is unsurprising that young women’s self-confidence and sense of inner beauty is so damaged. If you haven’t seen Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, it is worth the watch. The video proves just how disconnected women’s appreciation for their inner and outer beauty has grown thanks to horribly misleading photoshop in the media.

Herein lies the importance of Darling‘s #RealNotRetouched campaign my Mom and I wholeheartedly support. #RealNotRetouched is a social movement that challenges publications to never digitally alter women. Darling has made the commitment and has been joined by SeventeenGlamour, along with others. #RealNotRetouched dares mainstream media to, “see women as masterpieces in the first place, instead of flawed canvases in need its modification.” As Darling puts it:

So by all means, let’s deliberately choose to notice beauty in ourselves and call out the same in those around us.

Darling isn’t done yet. I challenge you to upload your own #RealNotRetouched photograph and participate in this #DarlingMovement! Share your #RealNotRetouched experience below, and always remember your (perceived) imperfections are what make you beautiful.

Thank you Jen, and to Jen’s mom! Continuing calling out the beauty in your life and the lives of those around you. We’re so grateful for you sharing a bit of your story with us!

Image provided by Jen Bakos

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