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Cosmetics guru to girls: Smart is the real pretty

updated 6:42 PM EDT, Thu June 20, 2013
To be born a girl in Afghanistan is often to be ushered into a life of servitude, where girls have very little worth and very dim futures. Amina is forced to marry at 12, to bear a child though still a child herself -- while her own brother is given her dowry money to buy a used car. But Amina, whose name was changed and story portrayed by an actress out of concern for her safety, has had enough, and she is fighting back. <!-- -->
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</br>CNN Films' "Girl Rising" tells the stories of Amina and other girls from around the world and how the power of education can change the world. Learn more about the girls' inspiring stories.<!-- -->
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To be born a girl in Afghanistan is often to be ushered into a life of servitude, where girls have very little worth and very dim futures. Amina is forced to marry at 12, to bear a child though still a child herself -- while her own brother is given her dowry money to buy a used car. But Amina, whose name was changed and story portrayed by an actress out of concern for her safety, has had enough, and she is fighting back.

CNN Films' "Girl Rising" tells the stories of Amina and other girls from around the world and how the power of education can change the world. Learn more about the girls' inspiring stories.

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cosmetics guru Bobbi Brown writes an open letter to girls of the world
  • "I struggled with self-acceptance as a teenager," she writes

Editor's note: Bobbi Brown is the founder and CCO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, the beauty editor of NBC's "Today Show" and contributing editor of Health magazine. This open letter to the girls of the world is part of the "Girl Rising" project. CNN Films' "Girl Rising" documents extraordinary girls and the power of education to change the world.

(CNN) -- Dear girls of the world,

I know firsthand that it is not always easy being a teenager -- especially a teenage girl. In a world where there are so many unrealistic images of unattainable beauty all over the media, the pressure on young girls is overwhelming. Pictures of celebrities and models that are retouched or have been created by a team of makeup artists, stylists, photographers and editors give young girls a false ideal of what beauty should look like.

Bobbi Brown
Bobbi Brown

I wish as a young girl, I had understood that there is more than one way to be pretty, and more than one way to be smart. I want you all to know that the secret to true beauty is simply to be who you are.

I struggled with self-acceptance as a teenager. I was short and had dark hair, while all the popular actresses and models at the time were tall and blonde. Traditional school subjects didn't come naturally to me. I had to work really hard. The good news is that, with time, I found different role models and learned to appreciate and embrace my unique beauty. I also found a subject -- makeup -- that I loved and did come easily to me. So I finally learned to accept, and love, what made me unique. Self-acceptance to me is the key to looking pretty -- if you are happy being who you are, you will look your prettiest.

CNN Films' "Girl Rising" documents extraordinary girls and the power of education to change the world. CNN Films' "Girl Rising" documents extraordinary girls and the power of education to change the world.
The benefits of girls' education
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What happens when you educate a girl? What happens when you educate a girl?
Life in the world's harshest town

I spent a lot of time as a teenager trying to learn how to fit in. My wish for you, girls of the world, is to spend your time trying to learn. Stay in school. Sticking with school wasn't easy for me, but it eventually helped me to discover a theatrical makeup program at a college that gave me the tools and knowledge I used to launch my company. I use that knowledge every day.

Don't spend your time looking at unrealistic images of models and actresses in magazine ads. Spend your time reading the articles next to them about how other women and girls are changing the world.

Don't spend time staring in the mirror and questioning yourself. Don't pick apart the things you don't like about yourself. Instead, celebrate and enhance the things you love about yourself.

These things will make you smart, and if there is anything I have learned in the 20-plus years I have been in the makeup industry, it is that a smart girl is confident, and confident girls are pretty and powerful. And when you get a group of pretty powerful girls together, they're unstoppable.

xo,

Bobbi

More: CNN's "Girl Rising"

Read more open letters

Open letter from Christiane Amanpour: It's time to power the world

Open letter from Queen Rania of Jordan: More than tiaras and cupcakes

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