Why Body Standards in the Media are Irrelevant

There is little out there that reduces a person’s confidence and self-love more drastically than standards for what the perfect human being should look like. The media has always seemed to do a fantastic job of fueling these expectations. It never hesitates to spotlight a certain appearance, even if it means dehumanizing another in a cruel and harmful way. Body standards in the media easily and falsely determine an individual’s worth, and as an effect of doing so, they create a world of brutal judgement and hate.

Body standards weave together the superficial idea that one type of body shape is somehow more appealing and acceptable than another. This pushes other body types into the dirt while one is being placed on a pedestal, and these manipulative standards are what often play a role in the decrease of people’s self-esteem, encouraging people to despise what they look like through the glorification of something nearly unattainable. I mean, come on. Those photos on Vogue magazine covers? Those Victoria’s Secret advertisements? They’re all presented with gorgeous models, of course, but what is being shown is usually not realistically possible for the majority of people to achieve. I firmly believe that the individuals who dominate the modelling industry are indeed beautiful people, but I also believe that everyone else is, too. And yet other body types are not being represented, and the tight restrictions for what is socially deemed to be “beautiful” leave little room for others to feel positively acknowledged.

Here’s another thought: What exactly is “beautiful” to society?

Woman are expected to sport a slim figure but are bashed on when they’re perceived as too skinny. They’re expected to have curves in all the supposedly attractive places, but at the same time they shouldn’t be crossing the line to heavy, either. Meanwhile, men are also subjected to body standards, idolized when they have just the right amount of toned muscles. You see, society has an insanely narrow idea of what the ideal body looks like. It’s practically impossible to precisely fit all the expectations that have been so widely established. A step off the line and suddenly your body could be viewed as less worthy than another (which is obviously not true!).

Photo by stockimages Freedigitalphotos
Photo by stockimages Freedigitalphotos

What’s unfortunate is that people often feel the need to change who they are. Not because they want to, but because so much pressure is being placed on their shoulders to fit a certain image. It’s all great and cool if you want to work on your body to fulfill your personal desires, but you should never have to feel forced into changing your looks in order to match up with what is being portrayed in the media. It’s even more horrible when the changes that people try to apply to themselves actually begin to affect their welfare. It’s shockingly common for people to develop eating disorders due to the expectations that society sets. They force themselves to manipulate their natural body shape in order to match impractical beauty standards. The result? Serious damage done to their health. Is appealing to silly expectations really worth putting yourself through something that is legitimately detrimental to your well-being? Of course not.

Why is it so hard to accept everybody for their own qualities? Just because someone isn’t fitting a specific idea of perfection does not mean that they’re somehow less beautiful in any way. It’s about time that media representations stopped reinforcing the poisonous concept of one type of figure being superior to another. Not only that, but it’s also about time that we stopped allowing those representations to cloud our sight of our own beauty and other people’s allure.

With all the expectations out there, many of which most humans don’t typically meet, it’s incredibly easy for people to learn to hate their own bodies. Trust me, I can be awfully insecure about my body, too. I look at the undeniably stunning models in the advertisements for my favourite brands, I admire the dazzling stars in the most popular movies, and I can’t help but think about how I’m so very unlike them. I don’t have the figures they do, I can’t rock the clothes they wear, and the plain and simple truth is that I don’t fit the standards they do. However, while I may envy certain attributes they have, I know that I’m just not them. I’m not who they are, and I’ve come to accept that. I understand that it’s fine to not look the way they do, and it hasn’t been easy, but I also understand the importance of embracing yourself. You only get one body, and it’s not guaranteed to look like the body of someone you may admire, but it’s yours and it’s yours to love.

When it really comes down to it, you are entitled to the right of presenting yourself in the way you want to. If you want breast reduction, you should go for it. If you want a more muscled build, you should feel free to achieve that as well. What you personally like is what you should be aiming for and what your efforts should be dedicated to. What’s the point in twisting yourself into someone you’re not genuinely happy with?

So here’s the thing. Although it’s a nice thought, we can’t be totally sure that the media will eventually acknowledge all the body shapes out there, and we can’t guarantee that the stigma around certain body types will change or disappear altogether. There’s a lot of things that we don’t have control over, and the body that we were born with is one of them. What can be controlled, however, is how we treat our bodies to positively present the personal preferences we have. We can also choose the attitude that we have towards how we look. Doing our best to recognize the worth in ourselves is definitely more effective in achieving happiness than jeopardizing our individuality or health for the sake of imitating the subjects of media glorification. Whether you’re round, slim, curvy, or anything else, do not allow anybody to pressure you into involuntarily changing yourself. Be happy, be you.

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