You would struggle to find a girl that didn’t have insecurities about their appearance. We aren’t skinny enough, or we’re too skinny. Our noses are too big and our bums too small. We’re too tall, or too short. Always too much or not enough.
We use makeup and clothes to look certain ways, while using Facebook and Instagram to create glamorized versions of our lives. We’re living under immense pressure to live up to certain standards, pressure provided mainly by mainstream media, and reinforced by our own peers. It’s not hard to see the damage being done.
The images of perfection streamlined to us every day in forms of models, actresses, and celebrities, create an unachievable ideal. The media hand-picks the women they see as ‘beautiful’. They put them on a pedestal, as if this is what we should be aiming for. They spread an unhealthy belief that looking like them will make us desired, and consequently happy. We easily witness female figures being torn down online when they decide not to subscribe to the feminine ideal of beauty. The media can so easily limit women’s decisions, confiscating their right to pursue happiness by being who they are.
Every image we see is a perfectly edited beauty shot or a contrived candid of women who often look the same. What is less shown is the work that goes into constructing those images and lifestyles by the media and related businesses. It’s easy to look like a model when you have a team of beauticians, stylists, personal trainers, and dieticians to make you look that way. Not to mention the amount of celebrities who have had cosmetic surgery.
These lifestyles are advertised to us as if they were effortless, besides expense, while only showing a specific body type. They convince us our self-worth is defined by how we look. We’re sold diet programmes and exercise regimes that are more money-making schemes than informed guides to healthy living.
They say we will become beautiful if we can only entirely change the way we look. They say we can be beautiful if we just tried hard enough. What they’re really saying, is that we aren’t good enough. The women we see in mainstream media are indeed beautiful, but the implication beneath the extravagance is that looking like those women is the only way to be beautiful. Most of us will never look like them, whether that is down to our lifestyle or genetics. That doesn’t, however, mean we are all hideously undesirable.
There is not a single way to be attractive, and being attractive is not a decisive element in determining your self-worth. In some ways we are already moving towards this. More diversity in the media, more emphasis on body positivity, and nurturing young girls’ confidence is the beginning of this long journey ahead of us. We’re on the right track, but we are nowhere near the finish line.