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Dismantling The System: Can We Ever Get Rid of Toxic Beauty Standards?

Social media is a huge prevailer of beauty standards, so how can we combat the intrusive thoughts that it gives us?

Unrealistic beauty standards

Expectations of what we, both as individuals and as a society should look like, have been around a lot longer than social media has, but the rapid onslaught of content showing examples of ‘perfect’ bodies and faces, celebrities and models dictating styles and trends, has made us more self-conscious than ever.

Everybody suffers from insecurity over their lifetime, but speaking from my own experiences, there is a long tradition of women being subject to unrealistic beauty standards. For much of history, this has to do with finding a husband. What men want and find attractive, and what society comes to expect of a woman’s appearance, whether that be through clothes, facial features, or body types.

No matter how much society has changed over the last 1000 years, this tradition has not gone away. Through both social media and in day-to-day life, women are taught to care about appearance, often more than every other aspect of their lives.

Rather than attracting a man, our presentation to the world through social media has changed the way we think of ourselves and how we want to be seen. We have a much larger audience through the internet, more people to impress, to make an impression on, to communicate and more people to share opinions with.

Much less are we subject to whispers and stares, than we are to internet comments. Which is worse, I’m not sure, but reading messages that can be sent within seconds, and which live on forever on the devices we have on us at all times, are much more difficult to escape or avoid.

Social media's effect

It doesn’t look like social media is going anywhere any time soon, and with that, neither will users striving to show their best selves, their most orchestrated angles, making those of us looking in the mirror, outside of the bubble of social media, unnecessarily insecure.

Of course, there are ups as well as downs when it comes to the internet, and social media platforms can be incredible places to spread positive information and combat the customs that make people view themselves negatively.

Movements happening online, like body positivity, body neutrality and inclusivity of all different types of people, are the way forward to making sure less of us experience often debilitating insecurities, and the mental and physical health issues that come along with it.

Learning to love ourselves, every part of our bodies and minds is a difficult journey, and we need to be taking steps to ease the path for everyone, in the present and future.


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