Beauty Standards And Body Image: The Idealisation Of Flawless, Eternal Youth

The beauty and wellness industry can be quite toxic, profiting off our insecurities, while also creating them.

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Ugh, look at my skin! My nose is so odd. My eyes are too small. Nothing is ever just perfect. My stomach is too big, my hips too straight. Aah, these thoughts would only stop if I could just look like someone else.

Look at all these celebrities. Their flawless, wrinkle-free skin, not a blemish in sight, with their hair falling in perfect waves and just the right amount of muscle tone. Since they are obviously upfront about their skincare routine that helps them look that way, it is a no-brainer.  Drink lots of water and buy products from their beauty brands. Completely reasonable thoughts to constantly have. After all, when all celebrities look younger than ever, looking like we are thirty at the age of fifty is completely normal, feasible and something to aspire towards.

Heaven forbid we actually look our age. The greatest compliments ever – “You’re a mother/father!“, “You look like your child’s sibling. You don’t look old”, “You look incredibly young!” – looking old is a terrible insult, and we should all do our best to avoid that.

25 Women On Reddit Reveal Toxic Beauty Standards
Image: ScoopWhoop

We only have to spend an astronomical amount of money to look like we are twenty years old at the age of fifty, with flawless features. Hire a personal trainer and dietician, who can decide what is the best way for you to get that six-pack. Spend thousands and lakhs on cosmetic procedures, injectables, the perfect facials.

All we have to do is shell out money every few weeks to maintain. Of course, if it’s a little out of our price range, there is always the black market. It is clearly perfectly safe, and we will face no side effects or permanent damage. We should have to push ourselves to the extreme, even at the risk of our own lives.

Women should wear makeup all the time, otherwise, they don’t put in any effort to look presentable. They should be skinny, but with curves in all the right places. Of course, you cannot wear too much makeup, then you are just pathetic for being an attention-seeker. You should be impossibly thin and fit, but not too muscular. That’s just gross on women, too manly

We should conform to these rapidly shifting standards of beauty, especially women. What does it matter if we are facing eating disorders, or if our mental health keeps deteriorating? No one cares about that. Body dysmorphia? That’s just fiction, and the fact that the growing pressure about our appearance is increasing across the world, is no cause for concern.

Our personal struggles apart, we all have the right to keep commenting on other people’s looks and judge them on whether they are striving towards that unattainable beauty standard, with the perfect level of fairness, thinness, and youth. If celebrities on TV and the news aren’t enough, there is always social media to make you feel inadequate, especially with big beauty influencers. There is a reason for their success, and all those big endorsements never ring false.

Follow that 3-step, 7-step, 20-step skin routine, to achieve that flawless inner glow. As usual, all we have to do is shell out a lot of money and slather on all those products on the off chance that they might work. Of course, when we cannot change everything about our appearance permanently, a quick fix appears – filters. They are even better than photoshop where we do not have to spend hours tweaking our body to look just right. Instant results! There are so many variations. You can change our photo so much that you look unreal…istic, ascended beyond the level of mere humans.

It clearly is never jarring as well, when the kind of faces and bodies we see on our phone never match up with the ones in the mirror. It does not affect us at all when our own face looks nothing like the one on social media.

Also read: Understanding The Beauty Myth & Its Implications In The Modern Indian Society

students-blast-photoshop-for-altering-beauty-standards-body-image-norms
Image: USA Today

Instead, we need to continue teaching ourselves to dislike our appearances, to feel inadequate and frustrated, and try to look as beautiful and exotic as possible. This should also be amplified for women. Throughout history, women have often been relegated as objects to be looked at, and the pressure to look a certain way should continue on its current trajectory.

Why are comments on our looks still among the greatest compliments? Most of us are visual creatures, but that amplification through technology can have such a high cost, mentally, physically, and financially. Perhaps, we should just let our bodies be, try to be kinder to ourselves, and try not to hold ourselves to such exacting standards

Women should wear makeup all the time, otherwise, they don’t put in any effort to look presentable. They should be skinny, but with curves in all the right places. Of course, you cannot wear too much makeup, then you are just pathetic for being an attention-seeker. You should be impossibly thin and fit, but not too muscular. That’s just gross on women, too manly.

Aah, the aspirational, fair, thin ideal body. Of course with the body positivity movement, different body shapes and sizes and skin colours can also be introduced. Mind you, not too many. We cannot have viewers thinking that they need not aspire towards a slim body, with perfectly proportioned waists, and Euro-centric standards of fairness. Let us try to be inclusive, but not too inclusive.

Why are comments on our looks still among the greatest compliments? Most of us are visual creatures, but that amplification through technology can have such a high cost, mentally, physically, and financially. Perhaps, we should just let our bodies be, try to be kinder to ourselves, and try not to hold ourselves to such exacting standards.

The beauty and wellness industry can be quite toxic, profiting off our insecurities, while also creating them. It is also inherently racially biased, and several beauty trends and practices tend to often criticise non-Eurocentric features, deeming them ugly (Such as contouring to gain defined cheekbones and a straight nose).

There are ongoing efforts to recognise the caste, class, and racial lines that define beauty in the current context, and perhaps we could all support that to some extent by holding the beauty industry accountable.

Also read: ‘I Am A Feminist And I Like Makeup’: Navigating Beauty Standards While Being Feminist


Featured Image: Upasana Agarwal

1 COMMENT

  1. Women today are brainwashed and too naive to realise how they are sold skimpy and skin-tight clothes by fashion industries. First the skimpy clothes, then the need to be slim, wax/shave, and use makeup. Women trying to look like the half-naked actresses and models on TV, in movies, and fashion magazines is women enslavement.

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