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Everything Wrong With Society’s Beauty Standards

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Conn chapter.

In today’s society, beauty standards seem to shift with every passing TikTok trend and viral hashtag. Despite the facade of progress, pretty privilege still lurks in the shadows, an uncomfortable truth many prefer to ignore. But perhaps the most absurd trend or aspect that emerged from such toxic standards is “girl pretty” versus “guy pretty.” This is just the tip of the iceberg showcasing how deeply entrenched these standards are.


I initially believed that the trend of categorizing individuals into “girl pretty” and “guy pretty” emerged in the post-COVID era, fueled by TikTok trends. However, upon further research, I discovered an article published long before this time period from Glamour Magazine’s Jake column, where the distinction was already evident. Jake’s column, claiming to be written from an honest male perspective, described celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Grace Kelly, Jennifer Aniston, and “skinny fashion models” as fitting the criteria for “girl pretty.” Conversely, individuals like Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Marilyn Monroe, Eva Mendes, and others were labeled as “guy pretty.” This division perpetuated the notion of cute versus hot, echoing the portrayal of the cool girl monologue/archetype in the film Gone Girl. Unfortunately, in this society, beauty standards and what is considered pretty or beautiful continue to be shaped by patriarchal ideals and how they are perceived by the opposite gender.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial to remember that beauty is subjective and isn’t confined to narrow definitions. Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Each of us possesses inherent beauty, with personalities that far outweigh fleeting physical appearances. Looks may fade with time, but our essence endures.

across the globe

Beauty standards and their definitions all around the globe differ. In some places, the standard includes features like fair skin, thin, blonde hair, blue eyes, a small nose, etc. In another place, the standard is to have curves, dark luscious hair, big brown eyes, thick eyebrows, etc. Filters and editing tools are being used to retouch faces to hide pimples or skin texture or change the waist size, all of which are normal and human. One could be deemed as the most beautiful woman or man known to society and they would still be insecure about something. We are people of Earth and if we wanna create a utopia, one of the main steps would be to stop judging and discriminating against others based on what they look like. It’s time to break free from these oppressive norms and celebrate the diverse tapestry of human beauty.

We see self-love influencers on the rise, my favorite being Spencer Barbosa and Mik Zazon, who promote body positivity and self-love. Self-love can bloom when you accept that you are unique and you stop pressuring yourself from trying to be like someone else. I genuinely believe that there is only one voice that matters when it comes to beauty and that is yours. So love yourself. Confidence is our greatest asset in navigating this minefield of societal expectations. By embracing our unique style and expression, we can defy the toxic standards imposed upon us.


These unrealistic beauty ideals come with dire consequences. Eating disorders, mental health issues, and body dysmorphia are all too common in a world obsessed with unattainable perfection. These toxic beauty standards lead to low self-esteem, negative body image, anxiety, depression, social isolation, etc. These standards, imposed even on young children, are just downright harmful. One of my cousins recently told me she wished she was “fox pretty” instead of “bunny pretty” because that is what’s cooler. The trend of “Which animal pretty are you?” might have started out as a fun and silly thing but it clearly is affecting and influencing children. What these different trends and senseless norms entail are dangerous. When will we learn that we humans are constantly trying to create boxes to try and fit into them when we were created to fly sans boundaries and borders? It is high time we prioritize our well-being over societal expectations. And seriously, why should we be pressured to be “hairless”? We are humans, humans are mammals, and mammals have hair.

We all have our moments of self-doubt, but let’s banish words like “ugly” from our vocabulary. Hate speech to yourself should be absolutely trashed. Comparison only steals our joy, robbing us of the appreciation for our unique journeys.

moving forward

Despite our insecurities, we must learn to trust ourselves and strive to be the best versions of who we are. Because, in the end, beauty standards are fleeting and ever-changing — from the Victorian era to the ’90s to the Kardashian-Jenner era and beyond. The obsession with physical attributes like lip size or skin tone is nonsensical. We should prioritize health and self-care over conforming to arbitrary beauty ideals.

Influencers and models you see on your Instagram feed should inspire you, not dictate your self-worth. It’s time to celebrate our uniqueness and reject any form of discrimination based on appearance. Stalking your ex’s ex is not very ideal in any way but remember, the people we stalk are just like us. In fact, who’s to say someone isn’t stalking us online and thinking the same exact thing? Social media provides a huge space for us to lose our contentment. Stop yourself before you think your lips are too thin or plump or that your hair isn’t straight enough or curly enough. Look at yourself in the mirror and see the experiences and endurance that counts.

Let us break free from the shackles of society’s ridiculous norms and beauty standards. Instead of striving for an unattainable ideal, let’s celebrate our individuality and embrace the beauty that lies within each of us.

Suhitha Sreedhar is a student at the University of Connecticut majoring in Business Management. She is all about the corporate world but when in her cozy nook, she likes to dream and write about things she loves. She loves fashion, makeup, books, taking buzzfeed quizzes, thinking about philosophical questions that may or may not result in an existential crisis, her plants and so on. Most of all, she loves love and this beautiful world that inspires her to write.