Breaking Unrealistic Beauty Standards

“Being beautiful is a decision you make”, that should be our ideal motto. But, no!  People tend to wait for others to swoop in and tell them they are worthy and beautiful. Why? Why must we constantly rely on the assurance and praise of others to feel good within our bodies? Nowadays, fat is the worst thing a person can be- society has turned fat to ugly. Social media continuously promotes the idea of being thin and obtaining perfection through airbrushed and photo-shopped magazines and tabloid covers. These unrealistic images and non-existent body shapes of men and women have a terrible impact on individuals’ self- esteem. Out of which, women are at a greater risk of conforming to these pressures. As of now, the number one wish for young girls aged 11-17 is to be thinner. Our looks, appearance, body shape are thoughts that dominate our minds.

How must we look to others? Is this what we want to worry about? Is this what we want our youth to conform to? Body image.

The National Association for Eating Disorders states that body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror or when you picture yourself in your mind. It encompasses what you believe about your own body and how you feel in it. Naturally, we all have our insecurities about our perception of our bodies. Especially in a generation that is largely influenced by media, our eyes and minds are exposed to every little detail. Therefore, how is a person supposed to ignore the constant views of photo-shopped models and their popularity and not feel negative about their own bodies?

A recent study showed the more we are exposed to body diversity the more we tolerate, accept and even prefer different body types. This study hypothesised that preferences change depending on our exposure to images. Participants were shown images of women with various different body types in leotards and glamorous outfits. Results showed that the more the subjects saw images of larger women, the more they reported preferring larger bodies. In addition, participants preferred the bodies in glamorous photos, regardless of body type. The more we see a type of body, the more we like it. This is why when we view images of people that have an ideal body shape, we think it’s the most desirable and end up degrading ourselves in the process because we don’t look that way. Hence, we can carry any body we like. Not everything is depended on your body weight!

Lilian Bustle a burlesque performer doesn’t have the ideal body that is considered perfect. The art of burlesque made her love her body and who she saw in it. The performer stated, “trying new things is often scary, taking off clothes in front of an entire room full of people with my body was terrifying. But not anymore, burlesque has made me feel beautiful, powerful and confident. The first time I performed, I was extremely scared and nervous and those few minutes flew by. After I had finished I felt like I could conquer the world. Now I carry around that courage reference in my pocket and retrieve it whenever I feel anxious about some situation”.

Find some kind of art that inspires you and reveals you for the person you want to be and not the person you have to be. Be mindful of the images you consume, they are not what they seem. Lastly, find your courage reference and fill up your pocket with it.

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