Our world was tailored with rules to govern it, with members of society having to assent to guidelines that often originated centuries ago. Beginning from our childhood, we are expected to follow a long list of rules, from school regulations to bureaucratic and legal rules people must follow in their everyday life, and of course the social rules we must abide by. Sometimes these rules and standards work in our favor, no one wants to be living in a jungle after all, but is it the same when it comes to the informal norms and rules for beauty, for the beauty standards imposed by society? The standards that, unless complied with, will officially kick us out of the game? Are these beauty standards serving us? When did we agree to the terms and conditions applied by a foreign culture or a superficial media platform?
We are constantly sold the idea of self-love and acceptance, but the content we are seeing in the digital sphere is making it rather hard. With all the beauty standards and clothing brands acting as hurdles we need to jump, with the number of girls struggling with depression and low self-esteem, it would be smart to realize that such illnesses don’t appear from thin air, but often from what we see in the world around us, including of course platforms like Instagram and TikTok, and how we process that information. Regrettably, this has spilled over into our relationship with ourselves and with others, and our true nature is often the thing we end up squandering along the way.
Newly introduced beauty standards
Glamorous photoshoots of famous models and celebs, make their way to our news feeds almost on a daily basis, and stunned by their glam, perfect skin and the so-called “in-shape” bodies, we rush to share their pictures, enforcing the fact that this is what beauty looks like because that’s what we are sold. Encountering content like this wouldn’t have been an issue if it didn’t lead to an inevitable batch of baffling thoughts that can eventually spiral into self-hate. Because let’s be rational; we don’t look like a photoshopped model, who doesn’t leave the gym, has flawless skin, and who wakes up wearing full makeup.. an image that is not even realistic for the models themselves! Many celebrities and influencers have tackled the issue and explained that what we see on TV and magazines is rarely true.. but after years and years of embedding certain criteria and ideas for what is beautiful, it has become hard to let go of the deep-rooted belief, one we’ve been spoon-fed for a while now, that we need to look like the people in these pictures in order to be considered beautiful.
The Arab world has always had its own ideas about what makes a woman attractive and it happened to be the opposite of everything we are taught to believe now. If only we could go back in time to around 60 years ago, we’d vividly remember how being curvy was the accepted form of beauty, and thin girls were looked upon as nothing but underprivileged or unhealthy individuals who need to eat more. Yet, the newly introduced beauty standards have come into effect following the endless westernized concepts that have become a part of our lives, subsequently forcing on us a long checklist of standards we ought to follow. But did we give it a second thought as to why we’ve given foreign standards such power over us?
If we are to choose between being curvey and being slim, maybe we’d go for neither! Why would we put ourselves in such a situation in the first place? We find ourselves dieting and sometimes even starving ourselves, just so we can get social approval from people who are most probably stuck in the same vicious circle as if judges are sitting there holding a scorecard at a fashion show. This is only a reflection of the lengths some people are willing to go just to fit in and follow the imposed beauty standards; can you really blame them? It’s tough keeping up in such a competitive climate.
The tension of keeping up with latest trends and fashionable clothes can be incredibly stressful. Because you know what? We know we’re being judged based on our body weight and wardrobe decisions and this kind of developed mindset can only cloud our vision and impair the way we perceive ourselves simply because we’re using the wrong measurement tools to assess our self worth.
Forcing yourself to reach a certain weight goal, not for the sake of your own health, but rather to keep up with a society that has enforced this on you and making your wardrobe decisions based on what you think is trending are telltale signs that you’ve joined the “trying to fit in and impress others” club. You end up getting wrapped up in your own toxic thoughts and self-doubt, shrouded by an air of vulnerability and weakness brought on by a fractured identity.
It’s about time we express our disdain for a culture that has taken a toll on our mental health with its imposed beauty standards, coming along with a handful of stereotypical portrayals we are supposed to “blindly” imitate. We know that probably many before us have addressed the issue, but it’s worth repeating until it sinks in, until we learn how to stop digesting everything we see on social media, before thinking them through and ingraining them as fact.