Beauty standards have become commonplace in today’s society, such that even when going about our daily life, we are influenced by the billboards or advertisements we see around us. Society has high standards of beauty that we are expected to follow. However, just how far has the upholding of beauty standards gone? The repercussions of imposing such impossible beauty standards are terrifying. Not only do these standards cause physical impacts such as health issues but also mental effects like a low self-esteem. This is an extreme problem that I believe we must all bring our attention to as it is becoming more than just a fashion fad; it is starting to become a common expectation we have of each other.
There are many ways in which these high beauty standards are imposed onto society. More than just the huge billboards we see pasted onto towering buildings, beauty standards influence us through our television screens as well. An example of imposing such beauty standards through media is the reality television show America’s Next Top Model. In Cycle 15 of the show, Ann Ward was crowned the winner of the competition. This win was controversial as she had an extremely thin waist which was incredibly difficult to achieve. This, coupled with the fact that the judges critiqued one of the earlier models on her thin body, was deemed as controversial what with the mixed messages that the show was sending its viewers. Another example of such beauty standards being imposed on society through the media is the Calvin Klein twitter controversy. Calvin Klein announced the debut of their first plus-sized model which was a cause for celebration at the start. However, their version of a plus-sized model left much to be desired. Their plus-sized model was about the size of a model that was not plus-sized. To have a well-known brand declare this as their standard of beauty expected of a plus-sized model was received poorly seeing as that is not the true definition of plus-size. Through these two examples, we can see that influence surrounds us, causing us to believe in such standards of beauty being the ideal. The underlying danger of this is that those beauty standards are becoming integrated into our own mindset thus, making this issue even more pertinent. Not only does society have to break the beauty standards already in place but also deconstruct the mindsets of our society. We have become brainwashed into thinking this is the ideal which is not the case at all.
You might be wondering why this issue seems to be so important that we must focus our attention on it. How harmful can beauty standards be? The answer to that may be shocking. In order to meet these harsh standards of beauty, some take to extreme measures such as diet pills or drastic diets. One infamous diet that has had serious ramifications: the tapeworm diet. This diet involves taking a pill containing a tapeworm which lives inside the human body, feeding on the food that the human consumes. This is not only horrifying because of the fact that there is a parasite living inside the human but also because of the fact that the human starves continuously in their pursuit of achieving the beauty standards society expects of us. In addition, the number of eating disorder related cases have skyrocketed as these standards of beauty are continually shoved down our throats. What was once merely a standard or a perspective has become deeply ingrained into our society’s mindset, making it harder and harder to break as time passes by. We do not just hear about how we need to undergo extreme measures to meet those ideals; we hear it from our friends, our family, the people who surround us. We hear our best friend casually note that they have to go on a diet to fit into a smaller pair of jeans or our classmate saying nonchalantly that she gaining weight and has to start eating less in order to combat that. My question is: why have we simply accepted this as the norm without question? Not only are we nursing a toxic environment as a society but we are encouraging the message that these are normal standards expected of everyone which can make a huge impact on impressionable youth. This has become an important issue that we must start solving immediately.
A problem like this cannot be easily solved. It involves the whole world and a national society. We cannot call for a revolution but there is a way we can all start to change the toxic mindset that has taken root in our society. We must accept beauty for what it is: raw and imperfect. After all, as Zoe Kravitz once said, “Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that’s when you’re most beautiful.” As a society or as an individual, we must take it upon ourselves to appreciate beauty for what it is and recognise that beauty does not lie in the shape of our bodies or the marks on our skin. Beauty comes with imperfections and peculiarity and that is what we must accept beauty as. Beauty is not just one mold that we can force people into. If we can impart that into our daily lives, it would slowly help to fix the problem. After all, influence goes a long way.
The reason I feel so strongly about this issue is because I myself have struggled to accept myself for who I am. The people around me would tell me about their own struggles with meeting these standards of beauty. It is frustrating to see society idealize such impossible standards and advertise them as common. Even more frustrating is the fact that we encourage such drastic measures in order to meet these requirements. We constantly beat ourselves up over not being able to meet these ridiculous standards and constantly live our life hating ourselves for not being like the people you see in magazines. It is time we put an end to this toxic mindset and accept ourselves as we are. Beauty is a fleeting thing in our society so it would not do us much good to constantly chase ideals to find acceptance within ourselves. As Golda Poretsky once said, “Don’t change your body to get respect from society. Instead let’s change society to respect our bodies.” Change because you want to and not because society tells you to. You have a voice and choice. Why not use it to make a change?