Sometimes I wish I was still a teen so I could have a role model like Zendaya. But alas, here we are: age 30 and 100% still raising my hands in the air like the alleluia Emoji because I have heard the truth.
Mainly, that ugliness is not a thing.
“There is no such thing as ugly,” said the 19-year-old in an interview with New You. “That’s a word that doesn’t really enter my vocabulary. If there’s a definition to being perfect, you’re perfect at being yourself. No other person can be you 100 per cent; no one has your DNA. You are 120 per cent, through and through.”
And, like, amen. But this also comes after Zendaya criticized Modeste (an LA-based magazine) for photoshopping her editorial.
“Had a new shoot come out today and was shocked when I found my 19 year old hips and torso quite manipulated,” she captioned in an Instagram post. “These are the things that make women self-conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have. Anyone who knows who I am knows I stand for honest and pure self love.”
And so she explained to New You why she did it.
“It is very important because I have a lot of young people on Instagram and Twitter who are looking to me for guidance and inspiration,” she said. “I feel responsible to be real with them, honest with them, and inspire and help them in any way that I can while still learning and figuring out who I am.”
Which is the best. And to be honest (as if I’d ever not be with you guys, my best friends), this is a message that’s equally important for grown-ass women, too. The more people we can get singing the praises of self-esteem and self-confidence, the better. And that’s not to say Photoshopping is the devil — like hi, I for sure reduce the circles under my eyes on Instagram sometimes because it’s my Instagram feed and I do what I want — but I am in the one in control of it. So I don’t think this is a question of condemning certain beauty practices en masse, but a question of doing what’s right for you and being in control of it. AKA yes: I am me, I am so into being me, and 9/10 times I am totally feeling myself, but I am also no less empowered when/if I choose to Photoshop away my zits when I’m breaking out in a way only PMS can cause.
But that being said, that’s where I’ve come to now — not as a teen, which Zendaya is. And as a teen, she can speak to other teens and build them up and remind them that they’re powerful and that no magazine or human has the right to make you feel like you’re not good enough. We need more heroes like Zendaya. Let’s quote her all the time.