In today’s world, the perception of beauty has certainly changed. Yes, we all know that looking good is good business! But, confronted with all the “beautiful” celebrities and seemingly “perfect” magazine pictures and photos on Social Media; women and even men are facing an unrealistic expectation of how they should look.
If you don’t have a certain type of thigh, a lean stomach, skin tone or even hair texture then you just might be criticized and body shamed. Most women now try to change how they look just to appeal to society.
How often have we been told as children that beauty on the inside is all that matters, yet we see and live by different statements? We live in a shallow culture based on looks. Look at all the celebrities we see; how many of them actually have the talent or are worth such a high status if they did not have their seemingly “perfect” looks?
The effects of attaining the perfect body shape and beauty has led to a great deal of problems both psychological and physical. It has created an uprise in bulimia and anorexia, due to women trying to look a certain way. People now look different on social media than they do in reality because of the photo filter effects. The era also saw the rise of Skin bleaching products and even diet pills to reduce appetite and lose weight.
At the heart of this struggle is a deep desire to be loved, a desire inherent in every person.
But what could have possibly caused this quest for unrealistic perfection in the first place?
The invention of the “Barbie Doll” in the early 1960’s might have started it all . Research has shown that girls playing with Barbies are prone to eating disorders and low self-esteem, that can continue into adulthood. Add the doll’s unrealistic physical proportions to the pre-existing societal beauty standards, and you end up with several women in real life spending millions on plastic surgery to get the “Barbie look”.
Now, an era of self-love and mental health awareness is dawning. People, more importantly, women are slowly beginning to shun these unrealistic demands. One of the many women pushing the boundaries to reduce these stereotypes on women is Gabrielle Union-Wade. In an interview with Byrdie; the beautiful 47 years old actress and Mum wants everyone to stop putting limits on black women’s beauty.
“There’s a larger conversation with people of color when it comes to our hair and our skin color. People will try to lighten our skin tones and alter our hair, which says a lot of about how we feel about ourselves versus how other people feel about our blackness and textured hair. We need to showcase the fullness of our beauty.” — Gabrielle Union
We should embrace all of us on our hair and skin journeys, let the content of someone’s character actually determine how you treat them, not how they wear their hair.
“I do drink a gallon of water a day. I started that in my mid to late 30s. So for a good 10 years, I’ve been drinking a gallon of water a day. It makes a difference for hair, skin, nails, all of it,” she says.
We should learn to love and appreciate every healthy step taken towards attaining beauty and recognize that everyone’s journey is beautiful, valid and amazing
It’s obvious everyone wants to receive compliments and praise and to be reassured that they look good. However, if you feel the constant need to be attractive to others; it might not necessarily be related to your desire to feel beautiful, but to your general need for validation.
Maybe someone has told you in the past that you were ugly, unworthy or undesirable; and you internalized it and made it your own beliefs, and you are still struggling to debunk them.
Or maybe you were not told any of that; perhaps you were simply ignored, maybe by someone that was supposed to love you (a parent), during your childhood or during a consistent period of your life, and now you want to be “seen”.
As a parent, when your child doubts their appearance, your heart sinks; and your first impulse is to say, “That’s not true, you’re so beautiful. Why would you say that?” Every parent worries that this is the first step on the long road to poor self-esteem. But you must remember that; your child’s self-esteem is built from the twinkle in your eyes and your kind voice in their head.
Apps and Beauty
When it comes to achieving the perfect selfie many are relying on apps that filter their natural photos. The increase in the number of photo editing apps such as FaceTune; helps users make little tweaks to make them presentable for social media. This pressure to look as perfect as your filtered photo is encouraging people to demand body enhancement procedures. According to physicians photo editing is driving clients to redesign themselves in real life. Clients come into consultations with their edited selfies as their goal for the surgery. It used to be celebrities but not anymore.
Here are some important steps to take to help boost their self-esteem and help your child feel confidently beautiful:
— When your child displays a good attitude and character qualities, be sure to mention them. Ask your children what makes them feel beautiful! You may be amazed by the responses.
— Ask your child what they don’t like about their bodies/self. This might be a hard one to listen to. Then take the time to find role models your child can relate to; with the same features, your child struggles with to show them how “different” is beautiful.
— Children, especially girls, need to hear positive feedback from their fathers; not only for looking beautiful but for other attributes that they appreciate. And girls need to hear dads supporting their wives, too, for all that they are.
Here is a book on promoting self-confidence and the beauty in loving how you look; SULWE by Lupita Nyong’o. This book is highly recommended for both mothers and every young black girl.
Finally! Promoting a healthy body image means helping both yourself and your children feel beautiful overall, and not succumbing to the stereotyped beauty the society and social media has created today.
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