From playing with Barbies as kids to watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians and Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows, young women—in and out of college—are presented unrealistic standards of what beautiful girls SHOULD look like.

It's easy to think that unless we look like the airbrushed celebrities in magazines, our plastic Barbies, or the models whose legs don’t touch when they walk in underwear, we are not “beautiful."


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In fact, in a survey of young people conducted by Just Say Yes, 80% of women said that images of women on television and in movies make them feel insecure. The body types shown in advertisements and entertainment are only held naturally by 5% of American females.

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As we enter college, we become surrounded by thousands of girls, and boys, around our age. After becoming so accustomed to beauty standards perpetuated by society, it's easy for girls to fall into a trap of comparison and self-hate.

Though girls believe that the only way a boy will consider her “beautiful” is by fitting into all the labels and molds that the media places on women, this is untrue.

Don’t get me wrong. I'm not preaching that how boys view us makes us beautiful or not. But, we do need to look at the big picture of what “beauty” really is.

I talked to college boys across the U.S. about their thoughts on the term "beautiful." I asked them one simple question:

What are three things that you find beautiful?” 

These are the most common answers that I got. 


Out of all the responses I received, kindness was by far the most beautiful thing to college boys. 42% of college boys I spoke with mentioned “kindness” as something they thought was beautiful.

An anonymous Syracuse University student said, “Someone who has a strong heart… and [can] connect with others to make them happy” is beautiful.

Another anonymous Syracuse University student agreed and said it is beautiful for someone to have a “sincere care for others.” While other college boys framed the term “kindness” with terms like “loyalty."

One student, Dan Kato from Oakland University, even said that “someone’s love for someone else… [as well as] dedication to… something can be beautiful.”


Confidence is very popular for the boys. 25% of those surveyed mentioned the term.

Zach Hobson, a student at Wittenberg, said that he thought it's beautiful when a girl has “the ability to be both confident and down to Earth.”

The other boys mentioned "confidence" used it with words like “fun to be around” (Davis Blum from Syracuse University), and “spontaneous [as well as] respectful” (Sam Silverya, also from Syracuse).


Many of  the college boys surveyed also discussed how a funny side to a girl is beautiful as well.

Jack Fulton, a student at The Ohio State University, said that he finds “good conversation and wittiness” to be beautiful.

Boys that agreed with him said that it's beautiful when a girl has a good sense of humor. T.J. Nichols from Syracuse University said, “[It is beautiful when a girl is] less serious than me.”

Daniel Honet from University of Michigan stated that he thought it's beautiful when girls are “funny [and] outgoing.”


Another term frequently mentioned was intelligence.

Ryan Schildcrout, a student at University of Michigan, said, “Intelligence is beautiful because it correlates with humor and knowledge, both of which are [necessary] in having positive interactions with others.”

Another college boy, Zach Hobson from Wittenberg, mentioned that it's beautiful when girls are “knowledgeable about the world."


Rohan Sadarangani, a student at Syracuse University, said he thought honesty is beautiful. He said, “Although it may sound cliché, honesty is [the most beautiful] trait in anyone.”

Ryan Schildcrout from University of Michigan said also that he thinks a girl’s creativity is beautiful. He said, “[Creativity] creates new ideas” and he thinks that in itself is beauty.

Another anonymous Syracuse student said "the ability for a girl to be herself is beautiful."

Caleb Duchan, a student at Michigan State University, said that beauty is about “the way… someone makes you feel.”

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Again, I'm not saying that how men view women is what makes us beautiful or not. But, we really need to reconsider societal ideas of “beauty” at large and become more aware media consumers.

It’s not that perfectly flowing hair and just-thin-enough arms the college boys around you will notice. It is your kindness you share with the world, your confidence in yourself, your humorous side, and your knowledge of what's happening around you.

So, next time you are stuck in front of the mirror, wipe away your unhappy look and put a smile on your face.


Because you really ARE beautiful.