Beauty in the media - some thoughts

by - October 06, 2019

It is not new that there are unrealistic beauty standards set in the media, especially for women. This is particularly highlighted on social media - from photoshopped models to a lack of variety of body shapes and sizes and representation in terms of skin colour. 

Unrealistic beauty standards have pushed the creation of movements of more realistic beauty and accepting yourself for who you are. It has prompted some celebrities and well-known people to speak out. However, whilst there has been some progress as more people are talking about unrealistic beauty standards, there is an irony in the way that unrealistic beauty standards are often being combatted. Whilst there are more people being vocal about how the media presents airbrushed models, people with perfect skin facilitated by makeup and editing, the people speaking out are not always leading by example. The pushback against unrealistic bodies and beauty standards has become another trend, almost in the same way having a perfect body is. Now we see some celebrities advocating for loving yourself "just the way you are" despite the fact they have made modifications to their body and are not being transparent about it and they regularly cover imperfections in makeup and touch-up their photos.  Despite the talk about the damages unrealistic beauty standards create, we are yet to see enough people in the public eye advocating for natural beauty actually making a change

So many people talking about breaking the barriers are conforming to the very beauty standards they speak against and making money/ gaining popularity by doing so. How many times do we see actors or singers giving public speeches on the pressure girls face to wear makeup and how we should not feel the need to look perfect? Yet the irony is, these women give these speeches looking glamorous and with perfect faces. They allow photoshoots they do with magazines to be edited and touched up. There is nothing wrong with wearing makeup or being more dressed up. People should be free to wear what they want and express themselves in whatever way they want. If a person chooses to conform to beauty ideals because they want to and they feel more confident doing so, that isn't a problem or something to look down upon. It is a valid choice. However, it is a problem when the public figures stating they are against unrealistic beauty standards and accepting yourself for the way you look naturally are actively conforming to these beauty ideals.  There is a problem when those very same people saying that women should embrace their natural beauty are trying to pass modifications they have made to their body as 'natural'. It is feeding into the very pressure people feel to conform to certain ideals that they are supposedly against. 

I understand that there are certain industries that require a more polished look such as modelling, acting, singing or the entertainment industry more generally. I understand it is standard and that some may have little choice in these industries as they can be more restrictive when it comes to public image. But talking about unhealthy beauty standards whilst conforming to them is not enough. We need more people who don't just talk about needing to change the pressures and unrealistic beauty standards in the media, but who make a difference. Women who will not wear makeup so consistently in the public eye, women who will reject modifications being made to their photos and editing. People who are unafraid to go against the expectation in certain industries that require such a polished look consistently such as modelling and acting.

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