How about we have a conversation on social media and unreasonable beauty standards?
As women, we grow up internalizing cues on how to be: how to behave, how to look, how to act as a good woman; how to be a supportive wife, to thrive as a hands on mom, to work as a loyal employee, how to become an excellent boss…. And, frankly, the list is in exhaustive.
Most can agree that being a woman is tough.
Being a 21st century woman is straining, and the struggle to be a ‘perfect’ woman makes the pressure worse.
This struggle is amplified more within this generation than in any other before because of the emergence of social media.
Our apps push projections of how to be and who to be and- although certain messages can be positive- the pressure on beauty standards can be alarming.
Social media has provided a platform for diverse representations of life, and time-and-time again our screens are dominated by content around external looks.
From Kim Kardashian’s hourglass body to Lala Vasquez Anthony’s luxurious hair, from Tia Mowry’s pert nose to Aishwarya’s pretty eyes, from Tyra Bank’s flawless skin to Serena Williams luscious lips; There is a lot of idealistic ‘beauty’ on display everywhere you scroll.
Whilst it can be argued that there is currently a diverse display of beauty types on social media that gives everyone the ability to identify and fit into their mould of what is beautiful, these images are crafted in the mainstream ideas of what beauty should be. These looks are promoted and enthroned as the benchmark for defining ‘beautiful’ and many young women find themselves lost outside this standard.
Beauty isn’t just a quality either; it’s also a tangible asset. Social media has allowed the common individual to capitalise off of their beauty from the comfort of their own home. Yet with this power comes more pressure- as the market has become increasingly satirised, the stress is to be THE beautiful social media influencer promotes forging the perfect image in the way of ‘nips’, ‘tucks’, ‘lifts’ and ‘reductions’.
Cosmetic plastic surgery is a booming industry in the West, with breast augmentation, or a “boob job”, as the most common and popular procedure opted for in over a decade alongside face lifting, liposuction and nose reshaping.
Statistics by America Society of Plastic Surgeons have shown that 3,000,378 boob jobs were carried out last year alone, adding to a total of 17.5 million cosmetic procedures in the 12-month period.
Whilst there are many different reasons behind such a vast amount of body alterations, it is evident that the amount the cosmetic procedures have increased rapidly with the emergence rise of social media.
We succumb to the pressure to measure up, to feel validated and to feel enough. Failure to attain THE standard of beauty comes with consequences albeit unintended – comparison, jealousy, resentment and in many cases depression.
Thought leader and passionate enthusiast for redefining beauty, Robert Rice, puts it this way
“Culture narrowly defines what beauty is and should be.”
She powerfully advocates for a redefinition of beauty under the #StoptheBeautyMadness campaign.
According to her, “In this new world, our beauty is defined by whole-self qualities, not eye-to-nose and bust-to-waist-to-hip ratios. In this world, we KNOW we are more than our appearance, our size and our shape.”
“In this world, we are throwing off our role as sales-hypnotized consumers and getting on with the task of changing the world,”
Tracee Ellis Ross, ‘Blackish’ superstar and daughter of the late superstar singer Diana Ross Daughter is another strong woman who has gone against the status quo on what beauty should look like on a 21st century woman.
In an interview she spoke extensively on unreasonable beauty standards adding that the culture, which so glaringly states that women are only worthy of love if they match up to society’s unattainable standards of beauty, should not be followed blindly.
She further adds that whatever beauty alterations women seek should not be motivated by a need to fix something society doesn’t enthrone as right, but instead they should use their beauty to empower and to change the conversation on how beauty is perceived and understood in the 21st century.
Of course Tracee and Robin are not the only women on the forefront of the #RedefineBeautyStandardsCampaign; Michelle Obama, Eva Longoria, Lupita Nyongo, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Beyonce are also waving the #BeYourOwnKindofBeautiful Flag in their different spheres of influence.
How about we change the conversation….
What if we as engagers of social media start to think differently?
What if we as engagers of social media begin to use social media differently?
What if we started promoting a new way of thinking?
What if we stop promoting an idealistic kind of beauty as the only one true definition of beauty and we begun promoting different standards of beauty?
What if we changed the conversation from you are not tall, curvy, slim, or fair enough to “how can you become a better version of your own kind of beautiful?”
What if we use social media as a tool to promote diversity and variation in beauty and consciously decide to enthrone none as a standard?
What if we all just embrace our beauty in its imperfection and permit others to be true their kind of beautiful?
A better, stress free and liberal world it would be.
I believe so too.
‘Social Media and Unreasonable Beauty Standards‘ by Derinsola Adeniran – Looking into the effect of social pressures on mental health. Instagram @derinnsola
Images were taken from: @54artistry