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Act now and empower: Stop the unrealistic beauty standard

CW: This article discusses body image which some readers may find distressing.

Body image

Body image is a combination of thoughts and feelings we have about our bodies”.

People often struggle with negative thoughts about their bodies.

A survey conducted in July 2020 by The Women and Equalities Committee found:

"61% of adults and 66% of children feel negative or very negative about their body most of the time... The women who took part said photoshopped and edited pictures of other women caused them to suffer with poor body image."

Photo editing is unrealistic

It is rare we see representations of real bodies online and within the media.

Photographs and videos are often highly edited.

Phones give users the option to use filters on photos, as well as apps such as Snapchat and Instagram .

Other apps allow users to also use filters and further edit photos.

For example, Facetune gives users the option to whiten teeth, smooth skin, clear blemishes and apply make-up.

It's alarming how easy it is to access editing apps.

Edited and filtered images are not realistic.

They promote an unrealistic beauty standard that can’t be lived up to.

Reports worryingly suggest a vast number of women edit their photos.

In 2021, Professor Rosalind Gill of University of London’s Gender and Sexualities Research centre published a report on photo editing. The report ‘Changing the Perfect Picture: Smartphones’ was based on research she conducted on 175 women and non-binary people in the UK.

"90% of women reported using a filter or editing their photos before posting to social media. They reported using apps to even out their skin tone, reshape their jaw or nose, shave off weight, brighten or bronze their skin or whiten their teeth."

Social media and body image

The effect of social media on body image is substantial. According to Statista:

"in 2021 over 4.26 billion people were using social media worldwide."

That’s over 4.26 billion people who have the possibility of viewing edited videos and photographs during their time on social media. Social media algorithms mean that if we like, search, or view edited content, it is more likely to appear on our feeds. The more we see it, the more it will become the norm .

Act now and empower stop the unrealistic beauty standard.

Reports suggest social media is influencing how young people feel about their body image.

This is alarming.

According to The Women and Equalities Committee young people are massively affected by social media. They conducted a body image survey which found:

"social media had the biggest influence on their body image"


"how they felt about their appearance was influenced on social media either by ‘influencers’ or adverts".

Reality shows

Reality shows, celebrities and influencers portray that to become successful we must look a certain way. It is deeply ingrained in our brains that the more ‘beautiful’ we are, the more happy and successful we will be.

Reality shows like Love Island lack body diversity which reinforces this expectation.

Looking at the cast of Love Island 2022, it's evident there's a complete lack of body representations.

The women are slim, muscular, toned, and curvy with white straight teeth.

The men are slim, toned, and muscular with white straight teeth.

Celebrities and influencers on social media

Although diversity is rising within the celebrity and influencer community, the influencers and celebrities who appear to be the most successful seem to fit unrealistic beauty standards.

It seems rare that we see real images of celebrities and influencers on social media.

But are celebrities, influencers, and reality stars really to blame for the unrealistic beauty standards?

Celebrities and trolling

Celebrities and influencers are often blamed for the current beauty standards.

But are they not just like everyone else?

To become famous, people are expected to look a certain way, but once famous they are expected to live up to beauty standards. This is evident by the trolling seen daily on social media.

"An internet troll is someone who posts offensive comments online to provoke or upset someone."

Celebrities and influencers are often victims of internet trolling. Jesy Nelson, a past member of Little Mix, has been a victim of internet trolling.

Speaking on her documentary ‘Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out’, she discussed some of the disgusting comments she has received about her body. She recalled how most of the negative comments were about her appearance.

It's no wonder people in the public eye want to look a certain way when they are subject to vile comments about their appearance. Society should not be blaming celebrity and influencer culture. Unrealistic beauty standards were around long before.

Unrealistic beauty standards have been around a long time

Before social media was around, we were expected to look like models seen in magazines and newspapers.

Now we are expected to look like the celebrities and Influencers we see on social media.

We are also expected to live up to the standards of our edited selves.

These expectations are unrealistic and unattainable.

There needs to be more diversity and representation of different bodies.

Celebrate individuality

Individuality should be celebrated.

Tackle the editing epidemic by uploading unedited and unfiltered photos.

Continue to speak out against unrealistic beauty standards.

Empower each other.

Celebrate our differences.

What to celebrate:

  • Different skin tones

  • Disabilities

  • Different weights

  • Skin blemishes

  • Stretch marks

  • Crooked, yellow, or missing teeth.

  • Different hair types and styles

  • Cellulite

  • Body hair

  • Individuality

Do you struggle with negative thoughts about your body image?

  • All the time

  • Sometimes

  • I did but don't anymore

  • Never

By Gemma Woolston



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