2014 – National High School 2nd Place

Melissa Delgado, New York.

Truth or Beauty - Which has a greater impact on society?

As a sixteen year old female living in a mainly white suburban town in the United States of America, I do not think I fully grasp the concept of truth. All of my life I have been trained day in and day out to spit back formulas of math and grammar without completely understanding why. Most of these laws and rules were established long before me, my peers, or even the ones teaching these lessons were born. This generation of children has been manipulated into memorizing and analyzing, but you can only analyze in specific ways that are taught to us. At the age I am, with the experiences that I have had, I do not know truth.

Beauty, on the other hand, is something that every sixteen year old female residing in the United States is well informed about. Everywhere you turn, television commercials and magazine advertisements promise beauty in their products. Beauty is whispered on the lips of girls in high school bathrooms holding magazines with headlines like ‘Ten easy ways to lose weight quick!’ and ‘How to get a Victoria’s Secret tan!’ Beauty is counting on dehydrated finger tips every calorie in that Caesar salad you obviously chose for its lack of carbohydrates. It is every celebrity who does not have cellulite legs or a double chin. Most kids I know do not work out at the gym for themselves; they do not work so hard to feel thin in a swimsuit come summer. They push themselves to exhaustion to feel comfortable in their own skin, to feel accepted. They harm their precious bodies to become beautiful.

To harness beauty is not to fit into certain sizes, but to be willing to be a shoulder to lean on for every single friend and stranger you have ever made or met. You must be able to collect salt water tears and turn them into sun beams with a kind word. Putting others before yourself when you find someone in need of help or escapement of oppression is true acceptance, is true beauty. I have met many people who are skinny. I have met many people who are overweight. None of these adjectives correlate to the word beautiful or the word ugly. Amiable, courageous and considerate do. In the eyes of this middle class sixteen year old girl who is yet to experience most of the world, beauty is the true winner in this argument. If finding a real definition for truth for me is difficult, while I could write novels about the word beauty, then society has clearly focused much more on one than the other.

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