Where does self-love and body acceptance fit in with society’s beauty deals?
Contrary to what some believe, self-love is not about “treat yoself”. It has nothing to do with acquiring material things either or even the monthly or biweekly wellness spa dates. Self-love is about truly knowing yourself and being at peace with who you are.
Unfortunately, very few understand this concept. Instead, we live in a society so far removed from self-love that we are quite frankly sad and unhappy people.
We, as millennials are so obsessed with the idea of perfection and conforming to society’s ideals of beauty. The fact that it is now easier to “fix” anything we don’t like about our physical self through cosmetic procedures does not help the cause. I saw a quote once that read “instead of fixing our bodies, let’s fix our heart” or something to that effect. We focus so much on the exterior and not a lot on the interior.
We beat ourselves up for not having Kim K’s body – which is “#bodygoals” to many – or having the perfect skin. We want to look “perfect” at all costs and we want it now.
Is there such a thing as perfect? Can you truly achieve happiness striving for perfection?
According to Wikipedia, the feminine beauty ideal is, “the socially constructed notion that physical attractiveness is one of women’s most important assets and something all women should strive to achieve and maintain”. It further explains that feminine beauty ideals are rooted in heteronormative beliefs, and heavily influence women of all sexual orientations.
I strongly believe that social media encourages this yearning for perfection in us. After all, everyone looks flawless and perfect on social media, everyone seems to have everything “together” with the edited pictures and perfectly curated feed. And if picture edits aren’t enough, you can always get cosmetic enhancements and fix what you don’t like about your body. A little nip and tuck here and there and you’ll look like a life-sized doll in just a matter of weeks.
Check out my post on Are Cosmetic Enhancements the new normal? for more on this.
The feeling of not being good enough is subconsciously fed to us via the media we consume. We often covet and wish for a life that isn’t ours. Everyone’s life except for ours looks great on social media. It feeds into the mentality that you’re not enough or that you’ll only be enough if you have certain material possessions and good looks to match.
But that’s no way to live. It is the reason why depression and suicide rates are on the rise – the incessant pressure to be perfect!
According to Time.com, between 2009 and 2017, rates of depression among kids ages 14 to 17 increased by more than 60%. That is seriously terrifying.
The pressure to be a certain way, look a certain way is having an overwhelmingly negative impact on the youth.
Zig Ziglar, an American author and motivational speaker said, until you are happy with who you are, you will never be happy with what you have. Deep, right?
The truth is no one’s life is perfect no matter what it looks like on the outside. You can’t ever truly be happy if you’re constantly striving for perfection. It will drive you crazy, trust me, I know.
Body Image and Diversity in the Media
It’s not easy to be happy and accept yourself as you are, warts and all, in today’s society. Most of the media we consume, due to lack of representation and diversity subconsciously tells us that we are not good enough, our waist is not small enough, our teeth not white enough, our lips not sultry enough, we are constantly exposed to media that tell us that we are not enough. So, therefore, our body image is warped.
Body image has to do with the way we perceive ourselves when we look in the mirror. We imagine ourselves to look and act a certain way, even though we may look and act differently to those around us.
Someone has a positive body image if he or she is attuned to the reality of his or her physical shape and size. This person fully understands his or her weight, the form of his or her body (from curves to wrinkles), and the way his or her body moves and functions.
Some of us, however, experience a disconnect between our body image and the reality of our shape and size. The bigger the gap between what we think we look like and what we actually look like, the more likely we struggle with a negative body image. This negative perception of ourselves can affect our behaviour and hold us back from social interaction and feelings of security and happiness (Psychcentral.com).
Often times we do not have a positive body image because there is little to no representation of people like us in the media we consume. The magazines I read growing up were populated with images of white, tall, long-haired American size 0 to 2 models, the opposite of who I am.
It is 2019 and while things have changed significantly from when I was a kid in the late ’80s, we still have a long way to go.
Some notable changes in recent years come from fashion magazines like Cosmopolitan SA, Cosmopolitan UK, Glamour UK, Instyle, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue UK that promote diversity and a positive self-image.
The #donthatetheshake trend is a body positive campaign on social media that is promoted on Cosmopolitan SA’s Instagram page.
Glamour UK also does a phenomenal job of promoting videos of women of all shapes and sizes to show that there is more than one type of beauty.
As an avid reader of print lifestyle magazines, I can say that I have seen a notable change over the past two to three years in the types of content produced by the print and online publications that I consume. There seems to be a sudden movement towards promoting diversity in all forms, be it age, size, height and or sexual orientation #everyonematters.
In as much as we still have a long way to go, a single step forward is better than none.
Celebrating inclusivity and diversity is Canva’s recent collection of stock photos.
If you’ve never heard of Canva and you’re a millennial with internet access then you most definitely have been living under a rock.
Canva is a graphic-design tool website and their recent collection of stock photos feature a diverse group of women.
“In this collection, you won’t find overly-photoshopped images that perpetuate traditional stereotypes. Instead, we’ve put together a collection of everyday women, whose personal stories and experiences challenge both gender norms and societal standards of beauty.” – Canva.
Not only does “every woman in this collection reflect an important yet under-represented minority in stock photography,” but also in our society.
In a society where people sometimes seem to care more about the external than internal beauty, Canva is taking a stand. Its latest image collection showcases “women whose distinctive body shapes, facial features, or tattoos may not conform to the traditional norms of beauty, but who deserve to be seen and given proper representation.”
There’s no such thing as perfection. I often have to remind myself of this, we are all different and unique and our diversity is what makes us an asset. Canva’s collection makes me hopeful for the future and what is still to come. This collection of images is the first of many in Canva’s journey towards building a “truly diverse library”. You can be a part of their campaign by contributing your photos to the Natural Women Collection.
Do you think that the ideals of beauty are changing? In your opinion, is there an increase in diversity in today’s society?
Leave a comment below and let me know.