The United Indian
The United Indian

Redefining Beauty: Challenging Unrealistic Beauty Standards in the Age of Social media

beauty standards

Break Free From Norms

May 18, 2024
Social Cause

Every day, we are inundated with an unending stream of flawless content through the medium of social media. Anyone could feel horribly let down by their own personality when they see faces free of pores, bodies shaped by computerised sculpting tools, and lifestyles oozing with luxury. Here's the shocking truth – “real life is not all that glitzy”. It is a finely edited highlight reel, a well put together façade that feeds off the portrayal of an impossibility.


Particularly for young people who are still developing their sense of self, there can be tremendous pressure to live up to these imposed unrealistic beauty standards.  We endlessly scan through feeds and compare ourselves to influencers who have a whole team of beauticians, stylists & photographers behind that perfect post or reel. It take hours to edit those photographs and videos, frequently warping reality with filters and special effects. This steady barrage of "perfection" can mess up your sense of who you are, making you feel inadequate and unsafe.

The issue is not only how this unrealistic beauty is portrayed; it is also how narrowly beauty is now defined because of this trend. Social media frequently pushes a one-size-fits-all ideal that emphasises particular facial characteristics, body types, and skin tones. Such unrealistic beauty standards eliminate the wide range of human beauty.  We forget that freckles, laugh lines, and a bit of extra weight are not flaws, but unique characteristics that tell our stories.


unrealistic beauty standards


Revealing the Truth Behind Filtered Perfection

Now let's examine the illusion behind the filtered perfection:

  • The Power of Editing: Those perfect skin tones? Usually the result of carefully smoothing and getting rid of skin flaws.  Those beautiful curves? smart angles, planned poses, and sometimes even tools for shaping the body. The truth? Our bodies move and bend in different ways, and we all have holes of different sizes. You should see these "imperfections" as part of what makes you special.


  • The Highlight Reel:  Social media showcases the best moments, the vacations, the flawless makeup days, perfect bodies, the perfectly posed group shots. These are important part of the unrealistic beauty standards that are being set. However, what it doesn't show are the bad hair days, the struggles with self-doubt, the moments of everyday life that are far from glamorous.  Remember, everyone has their off days, and social media doesn't capture the full picture.


  • The Filtered Reality:  Apps and filters can completely alter someone's appearance, making noses slimmer, eyes bigger, and skin smoother.  These tools create a false expectation of what natural beauty looks like.  Instead, let's celebrate the beauty that shines through without the digital manipulation.

unrealistic beauty standards


Breaking Free from Unrealistic Beauty Standards

So, how do we break free from the shackles of unrealistic beauty standards?

Here are a few steps:


  • Unfollow Unrealistic Accounts:  Curate your social media feed by unfollowing accounts that promote such unrealistic beauty standards!  Instead follow accounts that encourage body positivity, self-love, and diversity in place of those that make you feel inferior. Seek influencers who are proud of their uniqueness and accept their natural appearance.


  • Practice Gratitude:  Take a moment each day to appreciate your body for all it does. It carries you through life, allows you to experience the world around you, and expresses your unique personality.  Focus on the things you love about yourself, not the perceived flaws.


  • Embrace Your Uniqueness:  What makes you, you?  Celebrate your quirks, your laugh lines, your unique features.  They contribute to your unique story and set you apart from others.


  • Focus on What Matters:  Rather than wasting time and energy worrying about how you look, put your energy into honing your skills, following your passions, and building deep connections with people. Genuine happiness, kindness, and self-assurance are the sources of true beauty.


  • Challenge the Narrative:  When you see unrealistic portrayals of beauty, call them out!  Speak up about the importance of diversity and body positivity.  Encourage others to embrace their natural beauty and challenge the narrow definition of attractiveness perpetuated by social media.


unrealistic beauty standards


The Hidden Cost of Unrealistic Beauty Standards

The impact of unrealistic beauty standards extends far beyond individual self-esteem. It bleeds into the very fabric of our relationships and colors our perception of the world:


  • Relationship Insecurity:  The pressure to look a certain way can lead to insecurity in romantic relationships. Constant comparison to filtered images can spark anxieties about attractiveness and worth, hindering intimacy and genuine connection.


  • Shallow Connections:  Social media often showcases a superficial version of ourselves, focusing heavily on appearance. This can create a culture of shallow connections, where attraction is prioritized over shared values and genuine personality.


  • Social Anxiety:  The fear of not measuring up to the unrealistic beauty standards prevalent online can fuel social anxiety, making people hesitant to put themselves out there and connect with others.


  • Distorted Dating Landscape:  Unrealistic beauty expectations can distort the online dating landscape, leading to superficial swiping and a focus on physical appearance over building meaningful connections.


  • Reduced Self-Confidence:  This continuous pressure of "perfection" can make one feel unsatisfactory which can undermine one's ability to take chances, be bold, and pursue their goals. This can hold people back from achieving their full potential in various aspects of life, from their careers to their social lives.


  • Mental Health Concerns:  The relentless pursuit of unrealistic beauty standards can contribute to mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. The pressure to conform can take a significant toll on a person's well-being, leading to negative self-talk, unhealthy eating habits, and obsessive behaviours.

unrealistic beauty standards


Shifting the Focus

Let's be honest, the quest for unrealistic beauty standards is a never-ending chase.  True beauty lies not in flawless features or a specific body type, but in confidence, self-acceptance, and the ability to radiate your inner light. It's about celebrating your unique story and embracing who you are, filter-free and fabulous.

The next time you scroll through social media, remember, it's a carefully constructed illusion. Don't let it distort your perception of yourself.  Step away from the filtered world and step into your own beautiful reality. The world needs your authentic self, not a imaginary beauty standards. Let's redefine beauty together, one unfiltered selfie at a time.


unrealistic beauty standards


Building a Better World

We can create a more positive and inclusive world by:

  • Supporting Body Positivity Movements:  Actively seek out and support movements promoting body positivity and self-love. These movements encourage acceptance of all body types and celebrate diversity.


  • Promoting Open Communication:  Let's talk openly about the unrealistic portrayal of beauty in the media and its impact on our self-esteem. Encourage conversations about self-acceptance and embracing individuality.


  • Focus on Inner Beauty:  Shift the focus from outward appearance to inner beauty. Highlight the importance of kindness, compassion, and intellectual pursuits.


  • Support for Young People:  Educate young people about the curated nature of social media and the importance of critical thinking.  Help them develop a healthy self-image based on their strengths and accomplishments, not just their looks.


By taking these steps, we can move away from the narrow definition of beauty perpetuated by social media and create a world that celebrates authenticity, self-love, and the beauty that lies within us all.


unrealistic beauty standards


In conclusion, the impact of unrealistic beauty standards propagated by social media is far-reaching and profound. It affects our self-esteem, relationships, and various aspects of our daily lives. However, by recognizing the artificial nature of these standards and embracing our natural beauty, we can mitigate these negative effects. It's essential to remember that true beauty lies in authenticity and self-acceptance. Let's stop judging ourselves and others based on looks and start valuing the qualities that truly make us unique and beautiful. Together, we can create a more inclusive and realistic beauty standards that celebrate everyone just as they are.

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