The Toxicity of Beauty Standards
- Article by Mariama Diallo- Year 10 Journalism Elective Student
In a dysfunctional society like today, that many claim to hate, why do we choose to accept social standards of what ‘beauty is supposed to be? Comparing our unique, beautiful selves with an unrealistic photo shopped image? Despite our awareness of camera angles and other trickery, many still subconsciously believe that beauty is defined by these unattainable standards. Although these standards have been around since the 60s. Social standards have never been more exposed to people of all ages. All ages. Often when we are informed of the toxicity of media it is only directed to young people, but it is not only the young that are misled on the meaning of beauty. All around us we see advertisements showing miracle anti-aging creams, skin-resurfacing techniques and hair loss products? So no, the toxicity of beauty standards stops for no age.
We see topics like these advertised and discussed but what we don’t hear about often are the health issues and mental disorders that come with it. “Women are more heavily hit with beauty stand…” Stop… just stop. In fact, woman have it easy when it comes to following beauty standards, don’t like your eyebrows, trim them, don’t like your body, plastic surgery, makeup can cover and transform. Whereas we’ll hardly find a male popping into a clinic because his features are “not up to social standards.” Did you know that one out of ten men that go to the gym have Bigorexia, a mental disorder where one desires to be incredibly muscular? Bet you didn’t know that huh? Do we not realize that half of our fellow teen girls skip meals, smoke cigarettes, vomit and take medicines to control their weight? These actions become habits and can develop into many health conditions. Selling body images of how we’re supposed to look like, hashtag fitspiration.
But how do we limit these influences that are forced on us through marketing, social media and advertisements? First and foremost, stop giving devices to your children at such early ages. A study conducted in The Australian Communication and Media Authority showed that kids as young as six either own a phone or have access to it. Stop doubting your natural selves, you are beautiful without those lip fillers; you are unique, don’t accept body standards. Though advertising and social media can’t take all the blame, even the people that you hang around with like your friends and family can determine your views on beauty, and unlike social media, these people aren’t things to just be deleted, stand up for yourself and talk to them about it. If you feel your feed is influencing you, unfollow, it’s that simple. A benefit of social media platforms is that you control what you see, so if you don’t want to see it. Unfollow. Before you decide to love other people’s body images learn to love yourself, which brings me to my next point, stop trying to be perfect. After all, perfection was created to make us feel imperfect but of course imperfect is the perfect thing to be.
Today’s beauty standards for girls are similar to the features an African- American girl would have. Having big lips, a slim body and so on. It’s annoying that growing up black people we’re meant to feel ugly for having big lips but now everyone wants big lips because Kylie Jenner, a white girl made it popular. For so long black features were not celebrated and now it’s like trying to look as black as possible without actually being black. It angers me that black people will bleach their skin because apparently their too dark. Your skin complexion is beautiful, embrace it.
Normalize being normal and ugly. The idea of body-positive is that all bodies are beautiful which is not true. All bodies are valid and there should not be any emphasis placed on beauty for somebody to feel worth. Saying all bodies are beautiful doesn’t dismantle beauty it actually just places more emphasis on beauty itself and makes it sound like you have to be beautiful to be worth something which isn’t true. Ugly and beautiful should be neutral terms it shouldn’t matter what you look like at all. Your worth is not determined by your appearance. That’s why we should learn self-acceptance because we should accept ourselves radically no matter what we look like. You can be ugly, so if you think you are, own it. What one person thinks is beautiful another person thinks is god- awful and just ugly. It’s not just black and white, obviously, there are somewhat universal beauty standards, but beauty standards are different around the world and if it is different for everyone it shouldn’t matter what society thinks.
We spend so much time trying to be different, trying to be unique. Our nature is to search for answers to life’s questions, concepts we don’t understand, like “What is perfection?” you strive to be “perfect,” a term you don’t understand. You should be yourself before it gets out of hand. Surely happiness is of priority over a word like “perfection,” so ask yourself this, who looks back in your reflection?
Name: Aatika Haqqi (Year 8, Sr. Haseena Majid’s student)
Competition Title: 2021 Schools Poetry and Short Story Competition (by The Write Note)
Place: Top 30 in WA.