Growing up has its undeniable challenges, in which body image becomes an increasing struggle. There seems to be a lot of social stigmas when speaking about body image. Although our bodies come in all shapes and sizes, the media makes us feel that we must mould into unrealistic standards that have been preset for us in order to be beautiful. Not only does this put pressure on fitting into this preconceived notion of beauty, but it also manipulates our expectations of ourselves and others around us.
Nowadays, beauty standards are very impractical. As we push our teenage bodies to fit these biologically unrealistic standards of photoshopped adults displayed on social media, we mourn our inability to abide by these standards easily. Struggling with body image is a subjective experience. It is the accumulation of our emotions, desires, experiences, neuroses, and criticisms we have faced throughout our life that contribute to our self-consciousness. The more we stare into the mirror, the more flaws we pick out, the more we want to change our bodies, yet somehow this self-destructive behaviour has become so common. How can something so merciless become so normalized? Society indoctrinates us to believe that in order to be beautiful, you must fit into a certain threshold and that blinds us. Our days are dependent on how we feel about ourselves, which often stems from how we feel about our appearance from when we awake to when we fall asleep. Rather than embracing our bodies and using our style to express ourselves, we feel pressure to reside by an unreasonable predetermined category in order to fit the “norm”.
This self-destructive behaviour not only unravels an unachievable list of objectives that we wish we could fulfil, but also promotes chasing characteristics which will never give us the satisfaction we are craving. If we continuously seek validation within ourselves by wanting to change our appearance, we will inevitably discover that this will most likely not be a journey that reaches its end but an infinite spiral. Additionally, if we are constantly seeking something more, no matter how much we morph into our ideal persona, without learning to accept ourselves for our differences, we will never find inner gratification. While this is easier said than done, the only way to move forward is to be aware and thoughtful of others’ journeys while simultaneously giving ourselves a break once in a while.
Beauty is not only skin deep. Every day, our bodies carry us through various expeditions. Beauty should not be defined by the shape of our bodies but rather by who we are as people. Our beauty should be what we bring forward to our surroundings. However, this begins with us. No matter our body type, we all face insecurities, and it is important to recognize that the people we compare ourselves to, are likely to be struggling with their body in the same way we might be. We must also learn to be conscious when commenting on other people’s bodies, for positive habits cannot commence unless we initiate them ourselves. Most importantly, we must recognize that feeling beautiful has nothing to do with what we look like, but what we project out onto the world.
-Anisa and Shereen