When I look around and see my friends and women all around me disappointed because they don’t look like a certain model or because they can’t shop at a certain store because they don’t have anything in their size, I get upset. The pressure for women to have ‘perfect’ bodies is too much in today’s day and age.
With the development of social media, there are so many different platforms in which your appearances are being judged on a daily basis. When girls go on their phones and see posts of Instagram models who have multiple plastic surgeries, lip fillers, and botox, they fear that they might not fit society’s standards of beauty or that they will be left out of social groups. The Kardashian family is a perfect example of this. Most of their family has had work done to enhance their body shape or face in some way. Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Kris Jenner have all opened up to having plastic surgeries done on them to numerous news outlets such as E! News, Seventeen Magazine, and Teen Vogue. They have millions of followers on most social media platforms solely because of how they look, which makes many women feel as if they need to look like this in order to be considered beautiful. On social media, they also preach about body positivity and being comfortable in your own skin which is very hypocritical.
A lot of media and fashion brands are to blame for this belief of the ‘perfect’ body. When you scroll through a fashion catalog looking for clothes to purchase you tend to see the same type of women posing on the covers. A woman who is white, skinny, and has a lot of European features. This makes it hard for women who don’t fit these categories to feel like they are considered beautiful in society. A lot of brands that cater to a younger audience do not promote positive body image. For example, Brandy Melville is a very popular store among American teens. All of their models are around the same size and very skinny. They only cater to girls who are between sizes zero and four. Their clothing is specifically tagged “one size fits all,” which makes girls outside of the range feel like they need to get skinnier in order to fit into their clothes. Being able to fit into Brandy clothes is an achievement for some girls because it validates that they are skinny enough. While some argue that Brandy Melville is a store for petite women, the store itself never actually makes that clear so it is very easy for others to assume that it is only a store for skinny girls.
This mindset of wanting to be more skinny can start very unhealthy eating habits. These can lead to unhealthy dieting which can turn into eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. “Over fifty percent of 9 and 10-year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 18 percent of adolescents are really overweight. About 80 percent of girls in this age group say that they have dieted in an attempt to lose weight” (Farrar, Tabitha). In addition to eating disorders, women can also develop depression, anxiety, problems in relationships, the development of substance abuse problems, and various health problems(Canadian Mental Health Association). A big factor contributing to this statistic is the way fashion brands market their clothes online and through social media. You may begin to look in the mirror and think that you are not “good enough” or “pretty enough” to be invited to a certain event or go out with a certain group of people. You may even think they are not worthy of finding love and that they will never form genuine connections with people. Even our friends, knowingly or unknowingly, put pressure on us to look perfect. They may subtly suggest a few health tips if they notice that you are not meeting their standard of ‘beautiful’. Sometimes they can even unknowingly make a joke about your body type and make you feel bad about yourself.
We need to change the current beauty standard and make it ok for women to express themselves however they want and look however they want as well. We need to be more accepting as a society and be more open to people looking different from what we are used to seeing all of the time. The brand Aerie is a good example of a brand that promotes body positivity by having models of all different body shapes in their catalogs rather than just one type of person. More brands need to follow Aerie’s example to make everyone feel included. Changing the way the media portrays women would be a good first step. Marketers need to take responsibility for images of women that are unrealistic.
Canadian Mental Health Association. “Body Image, Self-Esteem, and Mental Health.” Body Image, Self-Esteem, and Mental Health | Here to Help, www.heretohelp.bc.ca/infosheet/body-image-self-esteem-and-mental-health.
Farrar, Tabitha. “Body Image Of Women.” Eating Disorder Help, www.mirror-mirror.org/body-image-of-women.htm.