If you know me in person then you’ll know that Body image is one of my favourite topics to talk about and something I bring up constantly. A Wikipedia defines “Body image is a person’s perception of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of their own body. It involves how a person sees themselves, compared to the standards that have been set by society”. Something that specifically stands out to me in this definition is that someone’s body image is based upon standards set by society and that is something that just never sat well with me.
How someone perceives them self plays a huge part in how one deems their self worth and level of self confidence and today in the UK the amount of people who have a positive outlook on their body image is rapidly declining. In 2019 I carried out a study in my previous school where I asked 20 students from years 7-11 if they thought they felt they fit into society’s definition of beauty and from year 9 upwards more than half of them said no. How is there is so much emphasis placed on one specific set of ‘perfect’ body types even though there is such a diverse range of body types all equal in beauty?
One of my favourite quotes (I can’t quite locate where it comes from) is ”Beauty is a construct made by the capitalist system to make you see the flaws that don’t exist, to sell you things that you don’t need”. Now seeing this quote a few years back completely changed my perspective on how I view myself, how I define beauty or even if ‘beauty’, how society defines it, even exists.
Since hearing that quote I have stuck with the belief that beauty is a construct. It is not a universal concept with one set look that doesn’t differ through time and like the quote calls attention to, in our western society capitalism helps to create this beauty standard. This made me focus on the media’s ability to create insecurities in people. We see them take natural things about a persons body and then manipulate the public into believing that it is something they should be insecure about. They then go further to profit off the insecurities they helped create by leading them to buy so called ‘beauty’ products or invest in diet plans so you’ll eventually achieve this unrealistic standard of beauty. It is perfectly normal to have insecurities, everyone does but these insecurities should not define your worth or control you, which of course is easier said than done.
Lets be honest body standards seem to be a trend changing every few decades. People are constantly trying to keep up and fit into these standards so that they can fit into this idea of perfection, but in reality there isn’t one. There is no set look to define perfect. To me, constantly trying to fulfil everyone’s expectations of beauty is like chasing an unachievable goal, and although it is lovely to receive compliments from others, the only person that truly needs to know, believe and tell you that you are beautiful is you. If you are happy, healthy and confident in your body then that’s all that matters and no one has the right to tell you that you should think otherwise.
So to reiterate, there is no point trying to fit into someone else’s idea of beautiful when it varies from person to person, and differs depending on the society and culture. So I think what is most important is working towards fulfilling your own, personal, beauty standard reaching a point of happiness, healthiness, confidence and once you reach that point then who has the right to tell you that you’re not beautiful when you look in the mirror feel and know for a fact you are? No one.