The Unconventional Truth About Teenage beauty in “Modern” YA: Part 2

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“Maybe I’ll just catfish the hot jock and get him to fall in love with me” …

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, at least that’s what my mother used to say. Everyone comes in different shapes, sizes, cultures, and races—we all have those certain characteristics that make us who we are. The funny thing is that these are the things that people are made most fun of by others, but why? I personally always felt like the odd one out, the strange kid who played the clarinet for way too many years and spent his free time analyzing the Harry Potter series while admiring number 27 on the football team.

There was a similar trait in the Netflix Original movie “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” where Sierra strives to get into Stanford and, although she does not fit the traditional standard of physical appearances, she has a personality that could rock anyone’s world. Basically, we have Veronica, the Genevieve of this movie, who plays a cruel prank on Sierra by giving Jamey, the handsome football player, her phone number when he really asks for Veronica’s. You would think that a sane person would let the person know about the situation but, instead, Sierra takes a different approach and decides to catfish Jamey into thinking that she’s Veronica. If we’re talking about what a sane person would do in this circumstance, then we need to ask ourselves what we would do in this situation if we were in her shoes. Do we lie? Be honest? Message him in the hopes that he’ll be okay with you lying to him? The movie itself is difficult to watch as the main character makes some choices that are difficult to take in.

The point is, why would anyone do this? The truth is that love makes us do crazy things, we as people want what we can’t have and will go to any length to prove everyone wrong. However, the problem here is that Sierra felt as though she wasn’t up to Jamey’s standards and felt like the only way she would connect with him would be to pretend to be someone else, someone who falls under this heinous category of modern beauty.  Sierra takes a major risk in hoping that Jamey will fall for her personality and be accepting of who she is after she reveals who the actual person behind the messages is.

Lara Jean and Sierra Burgess have a lot in common in the sense that they feel as though they aren’t good enough for the perfect jock and this is something that hinders their character development in the plots. It makes you wonder how these stories would have turned out if everyone was nicer and more understanding. Maybe Sierra wouldn’t have had to lie in the first place and maybe Lara would be the popular girl in school.

The truth is that everyone needs to accept that we’re all different, no two people are alike and that’s what makes us who we are. There have been many trends over the past few years and I think we’re up for a trend where people are nice and accepting. One can only hope. What would movies or books be like if roles were reversed, or if everyone decided to focus on personality instead of looks? What messages are books trying to convey about beauty and what is this doing to teenagers today? What impact does teenage romance in modern YA have on its viewers and readers? It’s something we’ll have to dive into, but that’ll be for another time.

“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.” – Amy Bloom

PRR Lead Editor, Julian Esquer

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