Mexico City Teen Stands for Beauty Diversity

When Gabriela Carvalho was a little girl, she watched commercials that featured girls and women that looked nothing like her. She came to idolize their skinny, long-legged bodies and perfect blonde hair. She even told her mother she wanted to look just like them. Eventually, Gabriela began comparing herself to these images and came to believe that she wasn’t good enough for anyone. Now 17 and living in Mexico City, Mexico, Gabriela has taken the early negative impact that media had on her, and turned it into her first empowering media project LoveForTheSelf, which acknowledges diverse expressions of beauty. For her next venture, “What Makes YOU Beautiful,” Gabriela has channeled the Dove Self-Esteem Project, a campaign that expanded her understanding of beauty. Through this piece she hopes to encourage young girls and other viewers to cast their self-criticism aside and to celebrate all that makes them uniquely beautiful.

“Personally, I don’t believe that there is a single definition of beauty. Being beautiful is being happy. Being beautiful is being proud of who you are, and feeling like you’re enough. ”

What compelled you to address the media’s global influence on self-image?

Growing up in a society in which I felt bombarded by beauty standards influenced me to stand up against these standards. I remember being little and desperately wanting to be blonde because that was what media told me was the most beautiful hair color. I desperately wanted to have blue eyes because I didn’t feel that my brown eyes were beautiful enough. This compelled me to address media’s global influence on self-image because these images reflected what we should not love about ourselves and what we should change to feel like we fit in.

How has media changed you?

When I was very young I used to feel that I wasn’t pretty enough, some media made me feel bad about myself. It made me feel judged and less as a person. However, I cannot say that media only impacted me negatively, it also impacted me positively. It was Dove’s Real Beauty campaign that changed me. They showed average-looking women as the face and bodies representing their brand – not personalities. This inspired me to love who I am, it changed the way I see the world and the way I wanted the world to see me.

What is your personal definition of beauty?

Personally, I don’t believe that there is a single definition of beauty. Being beautiful is being happy. Being beautiful is being proud of who you are, and feeling like you’re enough. To me, being beautiful is standing up for your opinions, and fighting for your ideals. Beauty is accepting our differences, standing out in the crowd, and never taking yourself for granted. Beauty is diversity. Being beautiful is embracing what makes each of us unique and being grateful for who we are.

How has your work impacted your culture and your community?

I wouldn’t say that LoveForTheSelf has impacted my culture or my community, yet. What I can say is that my project and my ideas have inspired people that are close to me. This empowers me to keep my current project going. I want to impact a great number of people, especially young girls and young women that tend to look up to media’s definition of beauty, and try to adhere to its standards. I want to break the tendency of labeling people and labeling beauty. We are not meant to be labeled; we are individuals meant to express ourselves in diverse ways.

“I fell in love with this project, and in the past couple of months Adobe Youth Voices gave me the opportunity to expand and to develop my project at a deeper level. It gave me the base to turn my project into something great, big and beautiful, and I am so ready to start inspiring young girls.”

How has AYV influenced you as a media maker and as a person?

Adobe Youth Voices has inspired me to keep doing what I am doing, but more than anything, it has helped me to communicate my ideas by using their creative tools as a means to help those who are close to me. Next, I will help my community. AYV is a reminder that we are capable of changing the world through creativity, one person, one community at a time.

Where do you aspire to be in 10 years?

Many companies are embracing diversity and committing to doing their part to help the environment. For example, they are embracing gender equality and environmental sustainability. In 10 years, I would like to have an influential position in an enterprise – to work in advertising or marketing, creating campaigns for the world to see itself in a different light.

“I had to go down a long road to learn how to love myself, and right now, I couldn’t be happier. I want to keep using media as an inspiration to young women. I want to be a voice of opinion and stand up for beauty diversity.”

Patricia Cogley is manager, Adobe Youth Voices._