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Five Remarkable Women Who Are Defining Beauty on Their Own Terms

Posted Kenzie Kramer on 9/1/2017 |

Remarkable! People

How do you define beauty? 

Each Girls on the Run season, girls are asked to share what they think beauty means. After talking through their initial responses about outer beauty (“My babysitter is beautiful because she looks like Cinderalla!”), girls are asked to think about what characteristics make up inner beauty. Oftentimes, girls know what inner beauty means and their responses include someone who treats others with kindness, is brave, or isn’t afraid to be themselves. Through Girls on the Run lessons, girls learn the importance of inner beauty and that how we treat people matters more than how we look.

Now, more than ever, girls have opportunities to see women who stand up to beauty norms and celebrate what makes them different. Here are a few of our favorite women who are defining beauty on their own terms and encouraging girls to do the same:


At this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, singer Pink used her Video Vanguard Award acceptance speech as an opportunity to share how she talked to her daughter Willow about beauty. After her young daughter said “I am the ugliest girl I know” and “I look like a boy”, Pink shared the critiques that she oftentimes receives. “They say that I look like a boy, or I am too masculine, too many opinions, my body is too strong,” she said. After adding how this negativity hasn’t stopped her, Pink went on to offer her daughter and everyone watching advice about dealing with unkind words. “So, baby, girl, we don’t change. We take the gravel and the shell and we make a pearl. We help other people change so they can see more kinds of beauty.”

pink vmas speech for little girls

Khoudia Diop

As a child, Khoudia Diop was bullied and called names because of her dark skin tone. “Growing up, I faced it by confronting the bullies. As I grew, I learned to love myself more every day, and not pay attention to the negative people,” she said. 

Now, the nineteen-year-old Senegalese model has embraced what makes her different, calling herself “Melaniin Goddess” on her popular Instagram account and encouraging others to celebrate what makes them one of a kind. “If you’re lucky enough to be different, don’t ever change.”

Khoudia Diop black model

Madeline Stuart

In 2015, Madeline Stuart made headlines as one of the first models with Down syndrome to walk to New York Fashion Week runway, showing people that beauty is about welcoming people’s differences. This year, Madeline was back on at fashion week with a line of her own!

“By debuting her own fashion line and becoming a businesswoman, she is showing other individuals with Down syndrome that is it OK to have your own hopes and aspirations,” says Sara Hart Weir, president of the National Down Syndrome Society.

Madeline Stuart model with Down syndrome

Zoiey Smale

Zoiey Smale, a woman from England who competed in beauty pageants gave back her Miss United Kingdom crown after being ask to lose weight for her next pageant. Smale shared her story on Facebook, celebrating her body’s strength and saying “I love me and will not change for anyone. My body has carried me through my 20+ years of being on this earth, allowed me to have a career I am very proud of, carry a child and the best thing of all, my body has never given up on me.” 

zoiey smales miss united kingdom gave back crown

Iris Apfel

Ninety-six-year-old style icon Iris Apfel debunks the idea that beauty is about being youthful or fitting into a mold. After the retired businesswoman’s style was on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in 2005, she became famous for her quirky apparel, large glasses and confidence as an older woman in the fashion industry. Apfel is outspoken about being your authentic self and dressing in a way that makes you happy, saying “When you don’t dress like everyone else you don’t have to think like everyone else.”

Iris Apfel Defining Beauty

As a volunteer coach for Girls on the Run, you can help girls in 3rd - 8th grade recognize their inner strength, learn important life skills and define beauty in their own way. Learn more about volunteering with Girls on the Run here.


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