When you think of a beautiful person, what comes to mind? Many of our thoughts wander towards images of slender women with perfect hair and muscular men with narrow hips. We fail to take into account that beauty comes in many different shapes and sizes. As your trusted therapist in Michigan, I want to remind you that every individual is beautiful in his or her own right.
The Media Influences What We Think Of As “Beautiful”
|91% of women are unhappy with their bodies.|
Like it or not, the media has a powerful influence over our perceptions. Advertisements, news sources, and even the weather channels uses models that are increasingly slender and uniform to promote their products and their stories. Sometimes these beauty biases are subtle, but that doesn’t make them any less powerful. Almost every single female newscaster on Fox News has blonde hair, for example, and the models in today’s fashion magazines grow increasingly slimmer. Even the so-called “plus size” models are shedding pounds every year.
Marilyn Monroe, an idolized beauty icon in the 1950’s, wore a size 10 or 12. The average woman in the United States wears a size 8. Yet thanks to the images that cover our media platforms, many of today’s women are starving themselves so they can inch closer to a size 2 or even a size 0. Some women are naturally very slim, and that’s perfectly okay. What some people fail to realize is that many women are not naturally this way, and that that’s equally okay.
When we are constantly surrounded by these images that others have deemed as “beautiful,” we subconsciously begin to believe that our bodies must conform to these same standards in order for us to be beautiful as well. This is a dangerous thought process, as it can lead to eating disorders and other mental and emotional challenges.
Even The Models Don’t Fit Society’s Definitions Of “Beauty”
Women and men starve themselves, exercise to the point of exhaustion, and fill their bodies with toxic substances that are supposed to make us lose weight and/or gain muscle quickly, all in an effort to conform to the standard’s set by today’s models. However, the reality is that many of these models look nothing like their pictures. The original photographs are airbrushed to remove even the smallest blemishes, and many of the images are “Photoshopped” to make muscles or breasts larger and waists slimmer.
While a few years old, this video from Global Democracy does an excellent job portraying how drastic these enhancements can be.
Real men and women abuse their bodies every day trying to match the ideals portrayed in the media, yet the models we are taught to idolize look nothing like their images.
France recently made international news for taking steps to overcome these ridiculous standards. All French models are now required to have a body mass index of at least 18, as anything beneath that is considered underweight and unhealthy. Additionally, any advertisements that contain images that have been altered must include a disclaimer that their ad is a “retouched photograph.” The United States currently does not have any of these types of regulations in place, but my hope is that as awareness of this problem grows, our country will follow in France’s footsteps.
|Everyone is beautiful in his or her unique way!|
Body Image And Self Esteem Are Closely Related
In my years as a mental health counselor in Michigan, I have worked with several clients who were struggling to develop positive body images. We have found that our perceptions of our physicality are directly correlated to our overall self esteem. The most important thing to remember is that every person is beautiful in his or her unique way. Our world is filled with such amazing diversity of appearance, and it’s a beautiful thing.
If you would like to work towards developing a stronger, more positive self-image, I would love to talk with you. Visit my website to learn more about my online therapy services!