“Body shape is something that a majority of women struggle with, as many believe their size is too big, too curvy, or even too skinny.” (The catalyst.) This is a quote I took from an article in a high school newspaper. It touches on what I believe to be a huge issue in our society. Toxic beauty standards. In our society we’ve set an unrealistic standard for ourselves. We look at highly edited pictures of so called “instagram models” and believe that is what we should look like. Young children look into the mirror and wonder if there’s something wrong with them, and wonder why they don’t look like the models they see on TV. All over the world people try to change their appearance because they’ve come to the belief that they don’t fit into the standard. The toxic, unrealistic standards that are portrayed everywhere.
An image showing how [body dysmorphia] (https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Freverehealth.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2Fdysmorphic.png&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Freverehealth.com%2Flive-better%2Fwhat-is-body-dysmorphic-disorder%2F&tbnid=xRMohUBVSX_lvM&vet=12ahUKEwj5u47t78zvAhUiAN8KHfdsCUgQMygGegUIARDiAQ..i&docid=HwhjpIwyzQE8nM&w=701&h=701&q=body%20dysmorphia&ved=2ahUKEwj5u47t78zvAhUiAN8KHfdsCUgQMygGegUIARDiAQ) can look.
When I was brainstorming what I wanted to focus on for my you and the world project I thought about issues that matter to me and things that affect me personally. One of the biggest that came to mind was toxic beauty standards, and specifically how they’re portrayed on social media. Beauty standards are something that have been around forever. While conducting research for this project I found a blog post that listed Standards for women’s bodies from 1292 B.C to today. It described the traits that were most desired and expected from women in each time period, it was this article that gave me new meaning to the term, “Toxic beauty standards.” Why is it that the so-called standard of beauty changes all the time? Why does our society constantly change what our bodies should look like, and why do so many people fall into the trap of thinking that they aren’t beautiful because they don’t fit into the standards that are constantly shifting?
Something that’s most definitely not talked about enough is how beauty standards directly affect people. Especially young girls and teenagers. Unrealistic beauty standards are shown all over the place, social media apps fill their explore pages with instagram models showing off their “Perfect lifestyle.”
“Instagram model” who often shows off her so called [perfect lifestyle] (https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fneoreach.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2018%2F06%2FTop-10-Models-on-Instagram.jpeg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fneoreach.com%2Ftop-instagram-models%2F&tbnid=dRW8k9Pprye0SM&vet=12ahUKEwjotaPa98zvAhXHBt8KHZ49AVUQMyguegUIARCcAg..i&docid=4i56BqQ3cr5PoM&w=1393&h=900&q=instagram%20model&ved=2ahUKEwjotaPa98zvAhXHBt8KHZ49AVUQMyguegUIARCcAg)
Magazines print the newest it model on their front pages.
Models posing for a [Vogue] (https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etonline.com%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fstyles%2Fvideo_1920x1080%2Fpublic%2Fimages%2F2017-02%2F1280_kendall_gigi_ashley_vogue_020817.jpg%3Fitok%3D-baLoriu&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.etonline.com%2Fnews%2F209818_kendall_jenner_gigi_hadid_and_ashley_graham_slay_the_cover_of_vogue_stunning_group_photo&tbnid=xtPRkBwKAlYIHM&vet=12ahUKEwiulK7g-MzvAhUGT98KHYaFDtIQMygBegUIARCkAQ..i&docid=yRJhO07Rf3iYgM&w=1920&h=1080&q=gigi%20hadid%20kendall%20jenner%20vogue%20cover&ved=2ahUKEwiulK7g-MzvAhUGT98KHYaFDtIQMygBegUIARCkAQ) photo shoot
In our society it’s hard to live without constantly comparing yourself to the people around you. This constant comparing and doubting yourself can lead to a lot more serious issues and can take a large toll on your mental health. One of these side effects is developing an eating disorder. According to the alliance for eating disorder awareness, around 30 million Americans have experienced a clinical eating disorder in their lifetime. And an article by Jessica Defino for Hello giggles stated that “Studies prove that beauty standards directly contribute to anxiety and depression. They can trigger body dysmorphia and disordered eating. They can fuel low self-esteem, self-harm, and even suicide. All of these conditions have risen in recent years, and all of them are unequivocally connected to beauty standards.”
Infographic showing different [stats] (https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fthebodyimagecenter.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F09%2FNEDAW1-730x1024.png&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fthebodyimagecenter.com%2Feducation-awareness%2Feating-disorder-statistics%2F&tbnid=N5c06vymT4GxWM&vet=12ahUKEwjf6YGs-czvAhWJdN8KHfNVBgoQMygCegUIARCCAQ..i&docid=8cipRVgBTa9MIM&w=730&h=1024&q=how%20many%20people%20have%20eating%20disorders&ved=2ahUKEwjf6YGs-czvAhWJdN8KHfNVBgoQMygCegUIARCCAQ) about eating disorders
This quote really ties it all together. The effect beauty standards have on people across the world. They’re terrible for our mental health, can lead to serious medical conditions, and drastically lower self esteem. We must reflect on this as a society. Why do we constantly promote an unrealistic standard when we can just focus on celebrating the beauty each individual person has? And why have we decided that a certain set of traits is the standard for beauty?