There's an important baseline to beauty: The notion that the way you choose to look is just that—purely your choice. Should you opt to cut-crease your eye shadow and contour until your cheekbones reach the sky, that is your prerogative. And if it makes you feel more confident in the process, then by all means, contour and cut-crease to your heart's content.
But while this baseline seems to go without saying, women throughout history have consistently had to break barriers in order to look the way they want. Hollywood celebs especially are told that they're too fat or their skin is too dark or their appearance isn't helping their "brand," whatever that means. So while, sadly, a thinner waistline may mean the difference between landing a leading role and getting turned down, there are a ton of stars who aren't accepting this logic and using their platforms to champion for all women. To them, we say thank you.
In honor of International Women's Day, we've rounded up some of the best quotes on self-image, not just from Hollywood but also from inspiring public figures who have thrown away the traditional mold and poured themselves a new one. These women have set new beauty standards that urge women to be confident with who they are and what they stand for. And if you feel the most confident while swiping on a tube of red lipstick, well, then that's beautiful too.
Keep scrolling for their inspiring quotes!
Steinem, a pivotal force in women's rights and political activism, is actually speaking in defense of a Kardashian in the above quote—Kim, to be exact. Not that the Kardashians are any less deserving of support from other females—the two individuals are just not a common connection one would expect. At the fourth annual Diane Von Furstenberg Awards, Steinem spoke candidly about the fat-shaming geared toward Kardashian West during her pregnancy, adding, "Our bodies are never public property under any circumstance,” she tells Us Weekly.
Although she was named one of People's Most Beautiful in 2014, Nyong'o tells Glamour that feeling beautiful within society has been a struggle for her: "European standards of beauty are something that plague the entire world—the idea that darker skin is not beautiful, that light skin is the key to success and love."
Despite these standards, Nyong'o says that her own family never made her feel this way and that being "friendly" and respectful is how she has always displayed her beauty.
Transgender model Hari Nef tells Allure poignantly, "Beauty sucks," adding, "Beauty culture is scary and painful. I'm still learning how to feel comfortable in a beauty I define for myself—or hope to, eventually."
While beauty comes easily to some, Nef finds it a struggle to feel intrinsically beautiful. Her outreach and voice are beautiful, though, and that shines brighter than any physical appearance. (Though, for what it's worth, she is beautiful on the outside as well).
Mehendi, or "henna," is a common way to decorate a married woman in the Hindi religion, so much so that it's practically become a requirement. The practice is also done on the women in the bride's life as well as the hand of the groom. While traditionally, these designs err on the side of patterns, lines, and dots, Nobel Prize winner Yousafzai says that she and her friends once decorated themselves with calculus symbols and chemical formulae—pretty brilliant if you ask us.
The legendary actress tells Time Out London that there is "no more mind-numbing, boring, [or] idiotic … diversion from the fun of living" than to consume yourself with the aspects of your outer appearance that you dislike. Here, here.
While the former first lady fostered many health initiatives during her time in the White House, she made it known that consuming yourself with your weight isn't indicative of being healthy. She tells Women's Health, "Instead, we need to start focusing on what matters—on how we feel and how we feel about ourselves."
The best response to the above quote comes from Winslet's daughter, who replied, "Mummy, I know, thank God." While not having curves doesn't make you any less of a woman, having them doesn't reduce your worth, and Winslet wants her daughter (and all other girls) to grow up knowing that.
While a tall, white, thin female figure has historically been viewed as the most beautiful example of a woman in Hollywood, Kaling urges us to flip that view on its head (as she should): "I find it very sad that so many girls who look up to me or are interested in me are young women of color who have been told that they are ugly and who feel that they are not normal," the actress tells a crowd at Sundance Film Festival.
Which powerful beauty quote do you live by? Please sound off below!