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Beauty Standards in Media: The Pursuit For An Unrealistic Body

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Beauty standards have been imposed on the population since the beginning of societies. It is known that, in the past, this standardization was very common and this culture remains until today. What started with a willingness to look nice and presentable became a huge disorder in people’s lives: the never-ending rush to be pretty is what has been sustaining most part of the global economy. 

From the firsts movies, soap operas, and modeling jobs to influencers on the internet, there is a lot of aesthetic pressure; in addition, over the last decade, social media’s domination has made the “perfect image” even more unachievable, but extremely desirable.

Building Up A Culture

The body is essential for a person’s existence. Everything a human being does is because of their bodies. But such an obvious statement can’t justify the reason why their images are so important to society. Why care so much about being pretty? Or more specifically: what is beauty?

Beauty is a point of view, even though it sounds extremely cliche it’s the very truth: by assuming that a person is beautiful the reason behind it is that people had already seen someone with a similar look and their image turned out to be pleasant to their eyes. So, by assimilating those thoughts, this is the conclusion the brain does. 

And this fact explains why society has a beauty standard: it is “forced” into the population to see the same image of a body attached to the meaning of being pretty, therefore, the only pictures assumed as beautiful are almost the same ones already seen a thousand times before. 

The Internet’s Pressure

Everyone wants to look and feel beautiful, so there’s no wonder why people seek that; on the other hand, this absurd aesthetic pressure has created a pursuit of millions for an unrealistic body. 

Today, everything is based on social media, and this couldn’t be an exception: the amount of content received that reinforces this perfect body image is extremely high and problematic to its users. There are thousands of profiles that support the “ugliness industry” and promote ridiculous procedures such as selling slimming products without any medical verification, plastic surgeries, or post about crazy diets, and also publish workouts encouraging people to do exercises until they’re exhausted.  

Together with these profiles, some public people contribute massively to this problem, for example, some models, actresses, and influencers such as the Kardashians. And it’s not only about some pictures or videos that make someone dislike their bodies, but the whole established culture of covering what’s natural in human bodies; what encourages people to hate their images. 

In February, the internet went crazy because of Kendall Jenner’s post over her shared brand with her sisters, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner. Her skinny body and “under the standard” image provided millions of comments saying that they wanted to look like that. 

How far has this problem gone? Comparing anyone to a Kardashian is an easy way to lose the “perfection battle”  because, to have that appearance, a person has to take an unhealthy and ridiculously expensive ride. 

Even though body-positive movements are growing, these standards will continue to happen on a large scale, while the organizations that motivate natural looks need to go through a long way to destroy this illogical culture.

How Sexism Contributes To This Problem

It’s not weird to say that women suffer more from this adversity than men do, and that’s because of the sexism present in society. Women always had to reach some sort of image to be considered beautiful and this fact has chased them all through history. Of course, men struggle with that pressure too and it is definitely a devastating situation, but since their childhoods women are demanded to look and behave in a certain way that destroys their healthy connection to society, helping the contribution to the “ugliness industry”.

Research done by the periodic Body Image in 2019 reveals that young women are more likely to compare their bodies in social media and cause disorders. Jennifer Mills, who commanded the study, said that young adults are especially vulnerable thus it is necessary to teach them how the use of social media changes the way they feel about themselves. 

Meanwhile, it’s easy to find moments when these standards were broken -and shocking. For instance, in 2016, Miss Universe provoked many comments after Siera Bearchell, Miss Canada, paraded overweight for a usual contestant. And how to forget Ashley Graham winning angel wings and becoming a symbol of plus-size modeling in the 2017 Victoria’s Secrets runway? These were shocking to society, but they’re not very far from now. The unreachable perfection is prejudicial to life, those situations were just a few examples of how long it took for a normal body to be accepted on the screens. 

Being Body Positive Today

Social media contributes to the creation of eating disorders and mental health problems based on the obsession with images. Although society has recently gotten better on the body-positive movement, there still is a long way to go until this aesthetic pressure is eradicated. 

Besides not as famous as the Kardashians, there are a lot of people reinforcing this freedom of standards on the media; here are some influencers and pages that can make your Instagram feed lighter and more positive: @movimentocorpolivre, @temmeutamanho, @bbcbodypositive, @dorafigueiredo, @alexandrismos, @thefuckitdiet, @scarednotscared, @jaimmykoroma, @camilamonteiro, @msamberpriley, @tiffanyima, @thenutritiontea, @comfyfattravels, @iamjarijones, and so many others. 

Just know that everyone is different and has a unique body, thankfully, because that is what makes people beautiful and unique! Don’t be rude to yourself, you’re gorgeous!


The article above was edited by Laura Enchioglo

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Camila Lutfi

Casper Libero '24

Journalism student, passionate by writing and open to new lessons. Feminist, art lover and body positive, always smiling to life!