When we were young we were told that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. But little did we know that the said beholders were born and raised in a strictly patriarchal and eurocentric society in which unrealistic standards of beauty were forced down an individual's throat from a very young age by the mainstream media and their near and dear ones!
The beauty standards we adhere to in the present scenario are nothing but an intensely spun web we have been entangled in since adolescence. We are told that sharp noses are better or almond eyes are the prettiest or thin lips are liked by none. We are told to have long hair but not too long, or that curly hair looks not so pleasing but straight hair is too boring, that we shouldn’t be fat but at least have some meat on our bones. And not that these multitudes of standards weren’t enough, the society never seems to wrap their minds around which ones to stick to. One year they will like thin, pencil eyebrows and the other thick ones, one year they would shame big hips and then they would praise them.
The obsession with fair skin or European features especially in the non-European countries has gone so much out of hand that products like skin whitening creams and plastic surgeries have had blossoming businesses.
And even after achieving the said perfection via these means, the end product never seems to satisfy the person or even the society.
Why do these Beauty standards exist in the first place?
Beauty standards are not only a social construct but are also hardwired into our minds for survival. We are hardwired to think that a thin like sickly appearance is ugly and being fat is unhealthy. We consider fertility more attractive and hence younger features are preferred like lack of wrinkles or sagging skin. We consider clear, glowing skin healthier hence any kinds of acne scars are considered hideous.
Seeking out a healthier and younger body is hardwired into us and we build furthermore complicated social constructs around this.
So, in a river (beauty) which flows strongly in and for the directions of standards, can beauty really be standard less?
Can Beauty be standard-less?
As we are entering a more progressive era there has been more focus on breaking the beauty norms. People have started realizing how destructive and downright unattainable these standards are for a normal functioning body.
More and more media personalities and digital creators are voicing their opinions and pointing out the wrong.
One such example was Lili Reinhart who plays Betty Cooper in the famous show Riverdale calling out the Cosmopolitan Philippines for photoshopping her and her friend and colleague Camilla Mendes’s waist for their magazine cover in the year 2018.
She took to Instagram and posted multiple stories citing her disappointment.
"Camila and I have worked incredibly hard to feel confident and comfortable in the bodies that we have," wrote Reinhart.
"It's an everyday battle, sometimes. And to see our bodies become so distorted in an editing process is a perfect example of the obstacles we have yet to overcome," she added.
"So we cannot stop fighting. Our battle has only just begun. We are fucking powerful, beautiful, and strong...we aren't going to hide behind Photoshop to conform to beauty standards," she wrote in another Story.
"That's why I'm calling out @Cosmopolitan_Philippines. It's sad that you felt our bodies needed to be slimmed down. But Camila and I are fucking beautiful. As is. And you can't 'fix' us," she added after posting a series of unedited and edited photos of both the leading actresses.
In a world where even the most famous and powerful are under scrutiny for their looks, you might think that beauty standards are hard to get rid of. And you are right, they are!
Then, what should we do?
We can choose what we let ourselves get defined as, we choose whether we wish to check the points off the vanity list or throw the list away, we choose whether we wish to satisfy every onlooker or just be our natural beautiful self and we let others have the freedom to choose the same.
In a world that runs on low self-esteem, insecurity, and jealously, you can choose to love yourself and others. In a world where pointing out your flaws and putting others down has become a habit, you can choose to embrace your flaws and love the uniqueness of others. In a world where there are standards for each and every body part from your face to your nails, you can choose to be your own standard of beauty.
So yeah, it might seem hard to break down those unrealistic beauty standards, to break free from the societal clutches to look desirable. But you know what’s not hard? To realize that your beautiful body with its own flaws, scars, and perfections is a beauty standard of its own that can and shouldn’t be satisfied by anyone else. You are your own model, and your confidence is your runway.
We are falsely taught that our bodies define our worth. It’s time we stand against these patriarchal beauty standards. It’s time that we stand against misogynistic body policing. Own your body but remember it’s not all you have.
Embrace your peculiarities, you are a galaxy of your own. You have your star clusters and black holes and numerous explosions within. No matter how the society makes you feel you are a galaxy up in the sky. So stop pinching your nose and hiding your curves, no two galaxies are the same.
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