Nikita Richardson
Updated Jul 31, 2015 @ 10:02 am

If we’ve learned anything from the excellent ongoing 100 Years of Beauty video series, it’s that beauty standards and practices are radically different from country to country, culture to culture—but we all have them.

University of Pennsylvania student Julianna Haahs recently came into contact with that reality while visiting family members in South Korea for the summer. So she took to Facebook to tell her story and share an important message about self-love.

“My name is Julianna Haahs. I’m Korean-American, 24-years old, and I have a message. Currently I’m in Korea on summer break and today 3 family members, some of whom I’ve only met a handful of times in my entire life, ganged up on me saying:

1) I gained weight
2) My appearance has “deteriorated” from the last time they saw me and
3) It’s a shame because I was actually pretty the last around”

She goes on to talk about how she was recovering from an eating disorder and how those judgmental words and expectations shook her to the very core.

“After their insensitive comments, I ended up crying in a separate room because rather than telling me ‘the truth in love,’ they jabbed at the very heart of my insecurities,” she continues. “And this isn’t the first time. Many girls [and I’m sure boys as well] know the feeling of being judged on sight. Of that first encounter, of those first words stating how you look rather than asking how you are.”

She goes on to point out what she believes to be specific homogenous beauty standards in South Korea (where 1 in 5 women have had plastic surgery), but her message is universal. Being judged on your appearance—based on societal expectations that don’t necessarily reflect individual, authentic beauty— is harmful and often misguided.

As Haahs states: “News flash! Health can mean skinny but skinny doesn’t always mean healthy. . . Anyone can see the flesh. Only those who love can see the heart. This is my little manifesto urging Koreans to break past tradition when it undermines a person’s very inner being.”

We think that message is something everyone should pay attention to, wherever you happen to live on this planet. And so did at least 5,000 other people who shared her post. As one commenter put it: “Well said and thanks for sharing! You are beautiful and thanks for reminding us that we are too!”

(Image via Facebook)