Breaking Beauty: American Standards

Beauty, by definition is a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. Popular media outlets have decided this combination includes female models within a 00-2 clothing size, usually white with long blonde hair, clear skin and perfect teeth.

 

Not only are these standards completely unrealistic as beauty ranges by preference and in reality, everyone is beautiful, it can be really detrimental to to the mental health and wellbeing of those consuming the media, as well as those involved in the creation of this output. Many of these “ideal” models don’t even look as they do when advertised- with the help of digital editing and photoshop, reality is altered typically in an effort to influence consumers to buy an item or product by making them believe they should look, dress, eat or act a certain way. Social media and similar large platforms have made this content more available than ever. These ideals have been engraved into our society for many years and although brands such as Aerie by American Eagle, Dove and JcPenny have made an effort to include more ranges of body types, skin colors and sexualities, we still have a long road ahead on the journey to realistic advertising, and I honestly doubt we’ll ever completely achieve it.

 

Self acceptance is difficult enough, but with this toxic media constantly being forced upon us beginning at a very young age with brands such as barbie and other gendered toys, it creates an even deeper cycle of self doubt and unworthiness.

 

I found myself falling a victim to this without even realizing it. Although I fit many of the typical “standards” our society sets as beauty norms, I never fully felt comfortable with myself. I dyed my long, brown hair a platinum blonde Freshman year and stopped cutting it, mimicked every fashion trend that occurred such as checkered print outfits, the ketogenic diet, hairstyles and makeup choices.

 

It wasn’t until after transferring to Nova my Sophomore year that I began to learn, accept and grow as an individual and i believe this is because of the strong, accepting community this school has built. I began by cutting my hair to my shoulders, stopped caking immense amounts of makeup on my face, began eating whatever i wanted, dyed my hair back to black and eventually shaved it all off. This was the biggest change i’d ever made to my appearance and the biggest rebellion against societal beauty traditions i’d ever made. Although it frightened me at first, it was a truly empowering decision as it taught me that hair, or any other physical characteristic doesn’t define me or my beauty, my actions, words and the energy i put out into the world does.

 

I highly recommend buzzing your hair if you find yourself stuck trying to please society or are struggling with your own self worth, as it is a truly empowering, fun experience.

 

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