By Natda Vongkhamchanh, Germany
What is beauty? That’s a question we have to ask ourselves before we start to discuss this topic. To be honest, it isn’t that easy to answer because everybody has his own imagination of beauty. Furthermore, it depends on where or in which time you live because it’s different in every country. Unfortunately, a common beauty ideal exists due to our generation of digitalization and media. We all know that being thin, tanned; having long hair, clear skin, big eyes and full lips are the accepted features of a beauty. While surfing on the internet, using different kinds of social media or just looking in some magazines, it’s remarkable how many advertisements and photos influences people in a negative way. They try to convey perfect looking women and men while using editing programs, for example Photoshop, to correct all the peoples flaws and delete everything they does not fit in the current beauty ideal. The following YouTube link will show you what is the impact of using Photoshop.
Even as a child we are confronted with a beauty ideal when we are playing with Barbies – a typical symbol for a perfect beauty. Little girls just look up to them and take them as an idol. Additionally, make-up plays a big role in a female society.
Women try to hide their natural beauty behind make-up to feel accepted especially with men. What people mostly do not know is that there are also economic reasons that influence that industry. They try to encourage people to buy things to maximize their profits by convincing them that they feel more secure and more beautiful with their products. Furthermore,they manipulate us in an indirect way which we, and especially young people, do not recognize. The saddest part is that we can’t prevent it without feeling unaccepted by society. It seems like the only way we can fit in is when we fulfill the ideal.
Not only women are affected by this problem but also men who feel pressure to achieve the “perfect” athletic body which leads to the fact that a lot of men get into an obsession with fitness. In some cases, they can’t stop taking several kinds of synthetic proteins or other pills to push themselves.
All the things I mentioned can have a negative impact on young people, especially girls who try very seriously to attain those beauty ideals. Some try with normal sports and others with diets, but in worst case, they do not allow themselves to eat and lose fat in unnatural ways.
This easily leads to eating disorders or anorexia which means that these girls focus on avoiding calories by throwing up and/or excessive exercise. Their senses of themselves are distorted so they lose the relationship with reality. Furthermore, depression and self-harm can be a result of it.
But what to do about it? There aren’t instructions to avoid it but here is some advice which may help you. Just try to think about how advertisement really works. You have to make sure that a beauty ideal isn’t natural and only imagined. Just remember – NOBODY is perfect and that everybody is beautiful in their own way. It’s also good to remind yourself constantly about some of your own good features. Try to accept yourself the way you are and avoid comparing yourself with others because it’s in vain. Everybody looks different, so just accept yourself and love your body the way it is and you’ll find happiness.
There are some campaigns which support this viewpoint, for example the Dove ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign. They compare the typical beauty ideal with some realistic women with curves and as you can see the women on the bottom seem to be more happy than the Victoria’s Secret Models. They accept themselves and love their bodies how they are.