Drawing The Line… Literally
It is clear that we are now living in the Kardashian era and it is almost impossible to escape the make up and body trends that have engulfed society’s standards once again. I find myself on instagram for hours at a time liking picture after picture of beautiful women, whether I’m attracted to their seemingly perfect bodies or faces. I can definitely admit to the fact that this is an obsession that stems from my insecurities and desire to look like these celebrities and models that come off as flawless. Now this article is in no means throwing shade or hate towards anyone, but I think it is important to observe a trend that has the potential to do a lot of harm to the development and self-esteem of young girls and women, especially in this technological age. There’s a balance between having confidence and still wanting to appear a certain way. It’s important to know that no matter how much you contour your face, you need to be just as proud of who you are underneath all of the make up.
Social Media Pressures
This is the section of my instagram marked “Photos You’ve Liked” which wouldn’t be as concerning if my motives were harmless. Scrolling through accounts of some of the most beautiful women in the world is not the best way to build your self-esteem, take it from me. It’s easy to forget that these pictures are carefully selected and edited so that they look stunning, resulting in a look that seems more attainable than it should be. I look through these pictures with a particular mindset, where I tell myself, “this is what I want to look like, this is who I need to be,” which I’m sure a lot of other women and girls tell themselves as well. According to a study done by The University of Texas at Austin, the average American woman weighs around 140 pounds and is between sizes 12 and 14. However, the average American model is around a size 0, which can further explain our warped sense of what the perfect woman is. Living in such a technological and superficial age, girls grow up staring at overly sexualized women with unreal proportions and faces made up to an extreme ideal.
Shade Free Zone
I am the absolute last person who would throw shade at another woman for showing off her beauty. With Miley Cyrus as my idol, I am all for women showing themselves in any light, whether it be naked, doused in make-up, riding on a banana, or however they choose to present themselves- as long as they are comfortable. However, there is a fine line between women empowering themselves within the media and the media taking advantage of that empowerment and reducing that down to objectification. Just like Playboy, which contributed to the sexual revolution, however, remains a men’s magazine- it uses women’s sexuality to a patriarchal advantage. We internalize the messages, values, and beliefs that mass media presents to us, which can be a very dangerous thing.
Although it is seemingly empowering, it only continues to damage the developing minds of little girls. We grow up believing that no matter what the fad at the time is, that a woman’s appearance is the most important aspect about them. As described in the documentary, “Miss Representation,” even women in politics are mostly criticized on what they wear or the tone of their voice rather than the substance behind their words. No matter how far we have come, there are always limitations to the impact and effectiveness of our actions since we are recognized as women before we are recognized as people. We need to learn to stop tearing others down because of how they look. If a girl is wearing a lot of makeup, or no makeup at all, what is the point in putting them down for it? If a girl dresses provocatively when she goes out, what is the point in calling them a whore or a slut? If a woman isn’t a size 2, what is the point in calling them fat? Quite honestly…
When it comes down to it, girls are led to believe that their most important quality is their appearance. We are taught at an extremely young age that what we look like and our feminine role in the patriarchal world is important. Growing up in a world where we are surrounded by these images is where all of the insecurities and judgement stem from. But ladies- whether it’s having eyebrows that are “on fleek,” a thigh gap or hour glass figure, long and luscious hair, a perfectly contoured face, or the perfect boob-to-butt ratio, these qualities are NOT all that matters. Being too thin doesn’t make you a bad role model, just as being plus sized does not necessarily make you someone who will pave the way for progress and acceptance (unless that is your goal).
The bottom line is we are all born the way we’re born and we have to not only be content with that, but be happy with ourselves as well. So many people get surgeries to “correct” or “enhance” their bodies and faces, which is so problematic. If your nose is a little big or your boobs are smaller than the average woman or you have thick thighs… WHO CARES? Will those physical characteristics make you more intelligent? Will they help you make genuine relationships with other people? The substantial things in life come from who you are as a person; not to be cliche, but the goodness of your personality will be what attracts others to you, not just physicality. No matter what you look like on the outside, I GUARANTEE you that who you are on the inside is what truly reflects in the real world. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t aim to be fit, healthy, and take care of ourselves because that is important. Just make sure you do it for the right reasons and that you are genuinely happy looking in the mirror no matter what and never compare your appearance to others!