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Before social networks, there were already beauty standards for women. However, the new emergence of filters and editing apps allows teenagers and young adults to create their own ideal version of themselves, which aligns with unrealistic beauty expectations. Those photos distort the reality of the female form and drives people to aspire to be beautiful according to these unattainable ideals.
Even in the professional field of journalism, images often create the illusion of “the perfect body.” Vogue magazine models Cameron Russell has admitted that photos of her in fashion magazines aren’t actually her, but instead constructions of an ideal image of her. It’s no secret that many celebrities, influencer, and even journalists have been caught manipulating their appearance for social networks.
However, teenagers and young adults still face an increasing number of pressures to conform to beauty ideals set by society. Women especially are pressured to look like famous and attractive individuals. When they fail to meet these expectations, their fans react by criticizing them for not looking good enough.
What is Unrealistic Beauty and Body Standards?
According to a survey conducted by the Girl Scouts of the USA in 2010, almost 90 percent of adolescent girls believed that the mass communication put a lot of stress on them to be slim and almost 70 percent thought that the images of beautiful women in the popular press were too thin. Nowadays, with easy access to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, the pressures have increased. We always see these unattainable ideals of beauty in the mass communication and it can lead to a lot of harm for young girls.
The negative effects of the mass consumption of images has been widely studied. In particular, the relationship between the amount of time spent watching TV and the risk of obesity was investigated. A recent study found that children who watch more than three or four hour of TV per day were twice as likely to be overweight or obese compared to those who watched less than two hour of TV daily. Another study showed that adolescents who had higher levels of screen time were also more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety. Similarly, another study found that teenagers who used screens for more than five or six days a week were more likely to experience mental health issues.
Young women are constantly being subjected to unrealistic expectations of beauty and the media fails to define what a ‘normal woman’ looks like. Celebrites are constantly Photoshopped to perfection by removing any flaws from their skin and changing their body parts, such has increasing their waists and breast sizes.
One of the biggest issues is the absence of diversity seen in the news, which idealizes female celebrity figures who are white, tall, thin, and blonde. This is unhealthy for countless young ladies of various races because they’re seeing a world that doesn’t reflect their race well in the news.
A 2015 study by Lora Romo had a survey done among Hispanic adolescents to determine their opinions about the representation of people of their background in the mass market. Most of the teens stated they knew that being slim was the norm as portrayed by white actresses in films, television, ads, and so on. Although many admired some of the curvy bodies in the press, they often felt pressured to mirror the mainstream ideal of being slender. One teen in the survey explained “In white culture basically you just gotta be skinny. Because you watch it on TV, you watch it on magazine, you watch it everywhere. Everywhere you walk around, you basically hear that’s what you should look like.” If this is what kids of colour are seeing in the press, then you can understand why they might struggle with their own self-image.
However, there has been a push towards a more inclusive standard of physical appearance, both in terms of gender identity and ethnic background. There are companies such as Aerie who have pledged not to Photoshop their models because they believe it promotes an unrealistic ideal of physical attractiveness. And there are celebrities speaking out about being Photoshopped and about diverse appearances in the press. Danielle Bregoli, for example, recently posted a photo of herself where she had her lips plumped up and her teeth whitened. She captioned it “I don’t need no fake ass plastic surgery.”
A good way for young people to learn about the concept of self acceptance is by watching TV shows and movies that feature strong female characters who don’t let their weight affect them negatively. These types of stories help children understand that everyone comes in different shapes and forms and that we shouldn’t think that one size fits all. They also convey the message that no one else has the right to judge someone because of their appearance.
Struggling With Body Image
Researchers found that 80% of women and 34% of men experience negative feelings about their bodies. Those who are unhappy about their appearance often feel depressed and suffer from eating disorders. Social networks have made it easier for people to share their thoughts about themselves. However, they also make it possible for them to compare themselves unfavorably with others. In addition, the constant exposure to images of beautiful people can lead to unrealistic expectations.
Whether it’s an actor in a bikini or a female athlete working out, people inevitably judge others by unrealistic standards. Looking at pictures of beautiful people online makes us feel bad about ourselves. Social media has a big impact on how we view our bodies.
To combat negative self-perception, the positive self-esteem community encourages people to embrace their bodies for who they are rather than trying to change them into something else.
“Body positivity” is a term used to describe the shift in attitudes towards the body among women in recent years. Sociologist Emile Durkheim believed that societies were held together by something he called “collective consciousness,” which was composed of shared beliefs and morals. The body positivity movements is one example of the collective conscience of our time changing and adapting to accommodate new ideas emerging in the social sphere.
Many believe that the body positivity movement promotes an unhealthy lifestyle by encouraging overweight individuals to be included rather than obese. However, according to Forbes, the body positive movement actually aims to encourage healthy living.
“The criticism of the whole idea of the ‘positive self-image’ campaign comes from people who are rooted deeply in the system of social conditioning that surrounds us,” she added. “Everything that happens at a larger scale in our culture affects that system.” She explained that we need to understand some basic tenets when discussing these issues. First, there are no universal standards for beauty — just as there are no universal standards of intelligence or talent. Second, what counts as positive or negative is subjective. Third, everyone’s experience of themselves and their own bodies is unique. Fourth, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve one’s physical appearance. Finally, there is always room for improvement. We hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
Diversity has been shown to improve attitudes towards minorities and increase tolerance for them. So if we can’t change society’s views on diversity through legislation, then we must turn to the internet instead! By showing images of diverse individuals in advertisements, movies, etc., we hope to achieve this effect. We believe that by increasing exposure to these images, people will begin to view themselves in a more positive light. They will start to think less negatively on themselves because they’re seeing someone else who looks like them represented positively in the media.
Why Beauty Standards are Stupid?
Body shape is something that a large number of ladies struggle with, as many feel their size is too small, too curvy, and/or too skinny. This is a quote I picked out of a column in a high schools paper. It talks about how we’ve adopted these unhealthy body image issues into our culture. Our young generations grow up seeing extremely photoshopped images and believing that that is what they should be. They begin to question themselves constantly if their bodies aren’t attractive enough. Throughout the world countless individuals attempt to alter their appearances because they think they’re not good enough. There’s no such thing as a perfect body. Everyone is built differently. You can’t compare yourself to someone else. But we do it anyway. We go through life thinking that we have to live up to a certain bar that doesn’t exist. And we suffer because of it.
There can be various reasons why we might be affected by these changing beauty ideals, though one of them stands out among the rest. In an age where Facebook reigns supreme and Instagram is king, our brains are bombarded with images every day that tell us exactly who we should be based off one very important part of our body. Social networks not only allow us to share these photos with others, but also take advantage of the power of likes and comments to boost posts’ popularity.
For example, if your photo gets enough likes (and possibly comments) then the algorithm will assign it higher priority within Facebook’s feed. And if someone is following you back, they’ll see your profile picture before any of your friends’ photos. It’s simply human nature to compare ourselves against those in front of us and find ways to make ourselves better. We may feel guilty or ashamed when we fail to meet someone else’s expectations, but it doesn’t help to just give up and accept failure. If we truly care about who we are and what we stand for, then we need to refuse to be manipulated by companies that profit off of our dissatisfaction.
Realistically beautiful women are often depicted in movies and television shows, and even if they aren’t, unrealistic womanly images that we see everywhere influence young women and teens.
With the rise of social media, a new phenomenon known as ‘selfie addiction’ has emerged. For some, taking photos of themselves and posting them online may not be such a bad thing, however for others it can cause immense problems. An article by Dr. James Wojcik says “The average Facebook user spends 3 hours per day on the site, and 1/3 of us spend at least 4 hours per day.” A study done by the University of California found that those who viewed selfies posted by friends had higher levels of loneliness compared to those who didn’t view them. Some believe that the selfie craze is causing more harm than good, especially for teens. A study by the New York Times reported that one third of teen girls have attempted suicide because they felt unhappy about how they looked in pictures taken by their boyfriends.
This gives us a much deeper understanding of what Beauty Standards mean to women. While being objectified and judged by others is something every woman faces on a daily basis, having these standards imposed upon us is far worse. Not only does this hold back advancements in medicine, but it also hurts our mental state.
The Dangers of Unrealistic Beauty Ideals
Trying to change your body by making drastic lifestyle choices, such as extreme dieting or over exercising for an unrealistic beauty goal, puts both your physical and emotional health at serious risks.
Unfortunately, there is an association between trying to achieve a thigh-gapped body and having disorganized eating habits.
A recent study among women between the ages of 18 and 25 years old revealed that exposure to unrealistic standards of physical attractiveness may lead to body image issues. These body image issues are linked to unhealthy weight loss practices, low self-esteem and symptoms of eating disorder.
Additionally, “body checking” (scrutinizing one’s thighs) can lead to eating disorder symptoms, hair loss, and feelings of dread. These conditions put individuals at an increased likelihood of developing infertility, hair loss, or a persistent feeling of dread, among others.