“Why do you want to look like someone else?”

Sophie, age 4

A friend of mine recently sent me this video in which little Sophie, with the help of her mother, sends out an important message via YouTube. The title seems like a big DUH (“Beauty is Not How Skinny You Are”), but it surely is a message we don’t hear enough. The message extends past dissatisfaction with body weight as Sophie asks the audience “Why are you trying to look like someone else?”:

Why are we trying to look like someone else? Why do companies want us to want to look like someone else?

You might think, “I’m not trying to look like someone else!”, but the truth is that social standards of beauty say that we are only attractive if we have certain physical attributes. These physical attributes tend to come from a select pool of celebrities, too.

Just glancing at the magazine racks as I do my grocery shopping, I can’t escape constant reminders that I, too, can get Michelle Obama’s arms, or Cameron Diaz’s abs, or follow Britney’s quick weight loss plan. How do I copy Kristin Stewart’s outfit, or Beyonce’s hair? My complexion is most like Halle Berry’s, and here is a list of lipstick shades she wears! These magazines say that I, too, can be glamorous, and so can you–we just need to alter our appearances to match Hollywood standards.

As technology advances, we are not limited to simply changing workouts or getting new haircuts! A wide array of reality shows about cosmetic surgery inform us that we have new options!

A contestand from "The Swan" after having plastic surgery. Is this the cost of beauty?

Shows like The Swan (2004-2005), which About-Face protested, and ABC’s Extreme Makeover (2002-2007) portray cosmetic surgery as just another makeover. There is also MTV’s I Want a Famous Face (2004-2005), which documents people who go through surgery and makeovers to look more like the certain celebrities.

As rates of cosmetic surgery rise, more and more people request specific celebrities’ features. The most requested celebrity nose is Jessica Alba’s. Women are asking for collagen injections to get Angelina Jolie’s lips. There are people asking specifically for Scarlett Johansson’s eyes. Would you want to go under the knife to look like your favorite celebrity?

With these shows and ads telling me that looking like my favorite celebrity is as easy as 1, 2, 3, little Sophie’s voice pops back into my head: “Why are you trying to look like someone else?”

Little can remind us more of the beauty of our individuality than a child’s voice reminding us that “You are unique.” Sophie tells the viewer that there will never be another person like them, so why would we want to look like someone else?

“Do you want me to look like somebody else?” she asks. Hearing that from a young girl is almost heartbreaking because we imagine that girls as little as Sophie should be free from the media influences that tell them to change.

If we don’t want Sophie to change and doubt her own uniqueness, why would we want to change ourselves? As Sophie repeats the question “Why do you want to look like someone else?”, I find that I can’t come up with a better answer than “I don’t.”

Do you want to look like someone else? Why or why not?


Tea is a college student in Berkeley studying Art and Sociology. While working at a café, she realized there was a lot of negative body talk floating around and wanted to encourage women to rethink the roles their bodies have in their lives. She hopes they would embrace their bodies (and minds!) rather than aspire towards unattainable ideals. What good is a body if you can’t enjoy it? When she’s not blogging for About Face, she writes, runs a photography business, and cuddles up with good books.

8 thoughts on ““Why do you want to look like someone else?”

  1. I love this blog. We will get realistic pics on magazines, realistic dolls and advertising – someday.

    We just have to keep thinking more “Do I feel comfortable?” than “Is my back too fat?”

    Someday customers will notice, that they order what they are buying and maybe then they will notice that too, that we don’t have to buy beauty with pain, that we can be ourselves.

    Waiting for that day. I’m full of questions “How does my ass look?” or “Should I get my teeth white?”
    They’re gonna end when people wake up and see the real world without glasses of fashion.

  2. I wanted to leave a comment about this subject, I personally have had cosmetic surgery, I had a nose-job, and I’m happy about the result, but at the same hand I feel as if I am betraying my belief that surgery is bad, I actually was told that I look the same as before, just the large bump is gone, and the only reason I had it done was because I was teased so much growing up, and I don’t know what to say, I want to be apart of this movement, about women loving themselves more but I feel like a double-agent, that I myself have changed the way I look, What can I do?

    – Lauren

  3. When you try to be someone, that means you have no confidence with yourself. you’re wasting or ignoring what gave you. All i can say is be yourself and be proud. You can admire all celebrities but always keep on mind that there are side effects on each surgery. So, you would still want to become someone else? My answer is still a big NO.

  4. This video is so beautiful and so dead on!

    But am I correct in thinking that Sophie says “I’m just cute” mid-way through? Is anyone else bothered by this? I believed at a young age, and still often do as an intelligent, capable adult woman, that I needed to be cute to be worthy. This led me to strive to be cute, starve to be cute, and develop an eating disorder that I continue to battle. I didn’t primarily starve to be skinny, or beautiful, or sexy; I starved to be loved for being little and cute and meek. Trying to look like someone else doesn’t mean we’re only influenced by the thin and fashionable women in the media; women in our culture are also socialized to be cute from the start.

    Kids are cute, yes, and Sophie IS cute. But let’s not imply that a word that is generally meant to describe a physical quality of daintiness and delicateness and a personality trait of childishness is the most endearing quality this intelligent and powerful young girl could possess. It saddens me to hear “I’m just cute” come out of her mouth. And let’s definitely not encourage her to describe herself as “just” cute. She’s so much more than “just” anything!

    Perhaps that’s not what she says. I hope not! But either way I think this is an important issue to be aware of. And, all of this aside – THANK YOU again for sharing this.

    Another empowered Sophie

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