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Beauty Standards Tell Women They Aren’t Good Enough

Madison Rice, Writer

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Airbrushed women are everywhere. They stand proudly on billboards in Times Square and sit pompously in ads in the local newspaper. You go down the makeup aisle at the pharmacy and an impossibly flawless woman with ruby red lips and thick, chestnut hair gleams back at you. You drive down the highway and women with dipped-in waists advertise for an “EASY AND EFFICIENT WAY TO LOSE 40 POUNDS IN 3 WEEKS!” on large signs that rise high above the road to ensure everyone sees. Films choose the cream of the crop, with little-to-no diversity in terms of appearance, and if there is that slight chance of difference- the actress will undoubtedly be altered to fit the mold. As soon as you step out of your home there is a beautiful woman tempting you to join her; to change yourself to fit that American expectation that only the lucky few can wholly meet. Television, movies, the internet, media, magazines, and ads have all been working in an unspoken alliance for years to feed girls one message: that they will never, ever be good enough.

I have undoubtedly listened numerous times to this message. I can hear it ringing in my own ears as I sit in an uncomfortable salon chair for four hours getting platinum highlights, because my own naturally dark blonde hair was not eye-catching enough. When bustling through a department store attempting to find clothes to suit a frame fashion designers simply wouldn’t consider ideal. When spending a whopping amount on makeup, not to enhance my features, but rather to mask a layer of insecurity that seems to be inherent in young girls nowadays. I start to think that perhaps if I wasn’t under the premonition I had to look and act a certain way my entire life, I wouldn’t feel so constrained and pressured. I see the little girls in my family idolize women who are known only for their looks, as artificial as they are, and not for anything of substance. They play with dolls that they will one day aspire to resemble, even in the slightest. They, too, will one day hit adolescence and feel the constraint and pressure of a society that puts a certain type of beauty on a pedestal.

It is beyond crucial to drill into girls that they are beautiful. That they do not need to change themselves to take after the woman they see on the pages of a magazine. It is vital for them to understand that their own beauty is found within themselves, and that that beauty is not hard to find as long as they aren’t comparing themselves to the woman who is paid to smile and be photoshopped. Perfect beauty standards among women are all too prevalent in a society whose one defining characteristic is imperfection. Many young girls do not understand that imperfection is a natural way of being; this misunderstanding has led to a 5-20% rate of eating disorders in adolescent-age girls and an increased rate in mental illnesses, specifically depression and anxiety. It is common to hear girls speak of themselves in a negative or deprecating manner, claiming how ugly, fat, or stupid they are. This is because we have been taught from a young age by our own female figures, whether directly or indirectly, that a woman loving herself for who she is is something to be frowned upon; we are taught that we could always be better in some aspect or another. I have witnessed girls tearing down other girls’ appearances over the most miniscule of issues; girls resort to picking on appearances because we were taught that the worst thing you could be in this society is ugly.

If we raise girls to prioritize their health, both mentally and physically, an inevitable change would occur in our population. Little girls look to older ones as idols, and if we are consistently tearing each other apart and trying to be someone we are not, that makes us no better than those who profit off of our own insecurities. Understand your own unique beauty and intelligence, and teach other girls to do so, too. Spread the message that you are, in fact, good enough.

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Beauty Standards Tell Women They Aren’t Good Enough