What is beauty? An often-asked question. Beauty, the source of pleasure for our senses. Beauty has developed throughout the years. It has been progressing as humanity progresses. From the love of the nudity of muscle-built fit males in the Ancient times, wide hips and thick figures of women during the Renaissance era, small waists (with corsets that probably hindered proper breathing) during the 1800s, to the grungy-I-listen-to -Nirvana look of the 1990’s, standards of beauty grew more diverse from one era to the other.
Throughout all this time, standards of beauty have proved to be major factors affecting one of the most vital social and psychological constructs we come across today– self-esteem. Self-esteem, or self-worth, is defined as the judgment of an individual towards themselves, or the faith in themselves and their abilities. It is also how one evaluates themselves.
How are standards of beauty affecting your self-esteem?
We tend to keep working up to the point of satisfactions. We tend to continuously work on making sure we are conforming to these standards of beauty. Going back to that 1800s era, you know, where corsets were means to improper breathing, women worked hard to make sure they have the perfect waist line. They worked hard to “slay that gown” and “be the prettiest”.
Let’s come all the way from the 1800s to this very day; has the way we perceive ourselves changed as much? Well, yes okay, the standards of beauty have changed, but have we really stopped constantly working on conforming to these standards?
We haven’t. It is more often a constant struggle of dissatisfaction. We still try hard to be like other people, ones that we think are beautiful. This constant struggle is a facilitator to low levels of self-esteem. It’s like a free ticket to the land of negative self-evaluation and decreasing self-confidence. I know, this is not a fun land. It is definitely not LaLa land, or Charlie’s chocolate factory. The phenomenon has gone wider with the development of media platforms, especially social media. Anyone might ask the question: how is Facebook or Instagram going to make me take a trip to the rollercoaster of constant struggles and a shaken self-confidence?
Individuals tend to compare their lifestyles, bodies, faces, and even accomplishments with others. Now that social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, have broadened the spectrum of human interaction, the act of comparison has increased with a booming intensity.
Things like how many likes a certain picture is obtaining, how many retweets a selfie is getting, or how many reassuring comments from followers there are, have set a new scale of measuring beauty. Media shows us an idealized notion of beauty. In fact, consumption of media in its mainstream sense is linked to an increased rate of social comparison and body dissatisfaction (Agliata & Dunn, 2004; Mulgrew, 2013).
Research conducted by The University of Gothenburg concluded that a negative relationship between Facebook and self-esteem exists. This means, as the use of Facebook increases, self-esteem decreases! As shocking as the results may be, they are just a portrait of reality. Yes, people are struggling to fit into certain standards. People are struggling to accept themselves for what they are. As vast as the factors of that phenomenon might be, social media platforms are playing a key role in its widespread. Wanting those Kylie Jenner lips, that Ian Somerhalder jawline, and that Gigi Hadid figure is not wrong. It becomes dangerous when that want becomes a promoter of a self-loathing attitude that is getting you one step closer to lower self-esteem and no self-acceptance. There is nothing more graceful than acceptance.
Accept that there are other sides of beauty that we are neglecting every day because we are busy focusing on the endorsed ones. Accept that we are neglecting our own beauty, beit from the outside or the inside.
There is another question that comes to mind, other than all the previously asked ones, what are the standards of beauty of our time? It is so hard to pin them. Are they big lips and big hips? Little waist and big hips? A six-pack and a slaying jawline? Blondes or brunettes? Our era is so diverse. Standards of beauty have become so complex, which brings me to an even bigger question; is there a simple one that rules out all the complexity?
Published in BizBahrain in August’s Issue.
Learn to accept yourself, and to love yourself.
Self-love, the greatest standard of beauty of all time. You don’t have to struggle your way to reach it.
It’s closer than you think.
– Ghiya El Assaad