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Ugly Truths: Why society’s standards of beauty need retouching

Last month, un-retouched images of Beyoncé, Cindy Crawford and Iggy Azalea were released online and boy were the haters happy about it; highlighting how body shaming is fast becoming the online phenomenon of our generation.  Yup, this is yet another body shaming article but clearly, the discussion isn’t over. 

All of these women represent different types of beauty and the release of these photos could have been an opportunity for the public to recognise that. But instead, people from all corners of the world took to social media to deliver some pretty unsavoury comments:

 “she’s ageing like bananas ew ew ew ew ew ew ew”

“Why does she have skin like a 14 year old girl who just got her period?”

“Iggy Azalea in cellulite ass stunt”

In more recent weeks, TV personality Katie Hopkins ridiculed Kelly Clarkson’s fuller figure writing “What happened to Kelly Clarkson? …Did she eat all of her backing singers? Happily I have wide-screen.”


Here are a few things we can probably agree on:

1. These comments are degrading, undignified and a reflection of the shamers rather than the women ridiculed.

2. Using technology to mock and intimidate another person is cyber bullying. This is confirmed by the fact that Iggy Azalea quit Twitter after receiving abuse about her cellulite.

She said “they [comments] put me in a really bad mood…I’d go to the studio and I couldn’t even work because I was so angry at everyone. I was beginning to hate people”. Clearly, such remarks were extremely intimidating. 

3. If we saw this on say, our Facebook news feeds, we wouldn’t stand for it.

Yet a bizarre double standard exists in which this behaviour goes unwarranted when it is towards celebrities. And some even admit that ‘embarrassing’ them by showing them in their natural state, is somewhat… entertaining or interesting?

When we body shame, we pit women against each other, establishing a culture of animosity and competitiveness based on who we deem to be physically better than ourselves.


The media isn’t the only one setting beauty standards.

Intellectually, we know that the images in magazines aren’t always a true representation of what those women look like. I mean, obviously, no one woke up like this:

 But we’ve been bombarded with retouched images for years. And now, some people are obsessed with finding ‘unflattering’ pictures of other women and sharing them.

This has also manifested itself in what we call ‘fat-shaming’ – ridiculing women with bigger frames. But in doing so, we are inadvertently saying that a) This isn’t beautiful. b) Not all body frames deserve to be celebrated.

But doing so dictates how the media sells products to us. Shaming women of a certain size means there’s only one type of woman represented on the runway. Shaming women of colour means that beauty becomes Euro-centric. Shaming women with different skin types means the cosmetic industry is compelled to distort images – beyond what is achievable – in order to convince us that we will feel beautiful after we buy their product.

Elle Magazine released a video showing how drastically the “ideal” female body has changed over time. Not only is this a vivid reminder of how our standards of beauty are pretty fickle but also, that beauty doesn’t have one stamp.

Watch Here


The media undoubtedly has a responsibility in setting beauty standards.

And so do we.   











Edited by Georgina Varley

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