The unattainable beauty standards in the age of social media

Social Media promotes body-shaming

Any person having a physique would probably have been the subject of displeasing societal prejudices at some point in her life. This unspecific judgment doesn’t excuse a person of any age, size, shape, color, height, gender, or race. You have a body and people will tell you 100 things on how it’s not fitting. From the amount of fat on our bodies to its color, there are numerous instances where an impolite person would make an impolite remark thinking it’s quite polite. Some of the most casual comments that people make regarding a person’s physique include; You look fat, you look thin, why are you so pale, so dark, so tall so short and so on. Sadly, nothing seems to fulfill the unattainable standards of body and beauty that could qualify for the society that we live in.

Ironically, our obsession with beauty standards has been existing since the start of time.  From ancient times to the medieval ages to the modern era, societies created different ideals of a perfect body and a beautiful woman that fluctuated throughout history.

We are all aware that everyone is born different. It would be a lot easier and better if we start understanding THIS in terms of bodily appearance and start treating people the way they are, not the way we want them to be. In short, there is no perfect figure, the only perfection is the way the person is. We all need to be kind enough to accept it

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The intricacies in the pursuit of ideal figure include; the ancient Rome celebrating being slim, high round, narrow shoulders, small waist, wide hips and thighs, long hairless legs and rosy lips and cheeks, the industrialized period celebrated women having a small waist, rounded shoulders, high breasts and oddly small hands and feet.   In addition, the slender supermodel look of the 1990s idealized women with long slender legs, angular bones and defined jaws. Currently, there is a long list of beauty standards, with various differences existing between societies.

Clearly, no one was born with a fascination with different beauty standards, many parameters have encouraged it. The role of media, including both print and digital, has been phenomenal in this regard.  Recently, social media has been extremely influential in creating and promoting a false image of the body.

Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites are full of subtle surrealist kinds of images that are almost universally appreciated. Other standards that are flaunted by individuals like having the perfect skin, skin tone, hair, height and other physical features are equally celebrated by netizens around the world.

One would argue that telling the truth about someone’s appearance and flaunting one’s most desired features on the Internet is completely innocent and fine. However, it clearly is not. Seeing perfectly toned images on social media, it is difficult to not judge our image against the images shown. When half of the world goes mad over a few socially flaunted body standards, a sense of inadequacy arises amongst those who lack one or two of the features. At length, there are many physical, emotional and psychological effects that this sense of inadequacy brings for individuals whose appeal to achieve the most appropriate body standard proves insufficient and unpleasing.

Firstly, for teenage boys and girls, or anyone who seeks the most looked-for identity as something skinny, perfectly toned and slender, the goal is to be as tiny as possible. At times, such individuals might go for seriously destructive health practices, including starvation, painful physical exercises or body conditioning workouts and taking medications.

With the possible accessibility of the media to all corners of the world, it has now become possible for Social Media activists, in the form of nutritionists and health practitioners, update their feeds with interesting diet plans that promise weight loss within a week. When followed blindly without any medical consultation, such blunt recommendations could bring disastrous health concerns. Likewise, for someone who idealizes a muscular and strong body, the struggle includes obsessive dieting, bodybuilding exercise and weightlifting. At length, some take steroids and nutritional supplements to fulfill their sense of inadequacy and to gain that model-like look. The costs of starving or overfeeding oneself, weight shedding pills, or medical treatments are agonizing for the well-being of a person.

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For others whose fascination is to be fair, tanned, have the perfect locks or a super-perfect length of hair, or six feet something inches of height, the rituals are equally traumatizing and may involve the fervent application of cosmetics, home-based remedies and plastic surgery fixes to achieve that Kardashian Look. With the advertisement of these triggering and most desired bodily features being shared heavily each day, it is no surprise that youngsters are, consciously or subconsciously, being conditioned into believing the beauty fallacies that are shown to them and are risking their health to fulfill their inadequacies.  Where the physical threats of these highly sought body images are disheartening, the psychological harm that this sense of not fitting in is even more upsetting.

In a society that places so much worth on physical appearance, and is eccentrically judgmental, it is very easy to point at a person’s weakness, disguising it as a moral responsibility. The amount of pain caused to the individual in the target is unimaginable. Done out of complete ignorance, the body-shaming remarks that are used so commonly, have an enormous effect on a person’s mental health. Concerning mental health, body shaming explodes several emotions, like embarrassment, fear, jealousy, low self-esteem, anxiety and anger. With social media, body shaming has now become even easier. It has now made it possible to target anyone that we could never have seen in life.

Body shaming can affect a person’s social and professional life. Socially, a person who thinks of herself as inadequate and imperfect, finds it hard to fit into her social circle. This sense of insecurity, in the longer run, would make the person skip social gatherings and choose isolation. Self-esteem and self-confidence are threatened which may affect a person’s performance and her entire attitude at the workplace.

The psychological, emotional, social and psychological harm that body shaming causes are reasons enough to not target any person’s physical appearance. It’s completely alright if anyone doesn’t employ the distinguishing features you DO. It is ok if the person is fat, thin, short, tall, tan, fair, has long hair, short hair or no hair at all. We all need to be acceptING towards every other person that we are sharing the world with, without being unnecessarily judgmental.

We are all aware that everyone is born different. It would be a lot easier and better if we start understanding THIS in terms of bodily appearance and start treating people the way they are, not the way we want them to be. In short, there is no perfect figure, the only perfection is the way the person is. We all need to be kind enough to accept it.

Farzana Jehan
The writer is freelance columnist

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