Most of us know of the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. However, it would be ignorant to believe that this is the whole truth when the standards of beauty still exist.
In 2021, it is high time we dismantle these harmful beauty standards.
In today’s era, it feels as if, to be considered beautiful, women are expected to have a slim waist with curves in the right places. By viewing celebrities who have these physical characteristics as “role models,” we falsely associate these standards of beauty with other positive qualities like having love, success and worthiness.
The standards of beauty essentially dictate what it means to be physically attractive. They are often contingent on the feminine beauty ideals that persist in a given culture and are perpetuated by, among many other things, models and celebrities always sharing similar physical characteristics. As our definition of what is considered trendy changes, these standards change and so does the definition of beauty.
When I scroll through social media and see these “beautiful” people living lavish lives, I find that it can be easy to trick myself into believing that my physical looks are my most critical attributes. It then seems logical that I must refine my look for the sake of others in order to live a happy life.
Beauty canit celebrate our diversity. As put by Cathy Newman in a National Geographic article, “humanity revels in the chance to shed its everyday skin and masquerade as a more powerful, romantic, or sexy being.”
However, beauty can also be used to discriminate. It has been documented that attractiveness comes with privilege. Newman identified that “attractive people make more money … receive lighter court sentences and are perceived as friendlier.”
Most of us are aware that it is rare to meet these standards naturally. We also know that celebrities and models attain these looks through professional help with makeup, lighting and digital enhancements. Even so, it is still easy to want to be considered beautiful by the rest of the world.
Media plays an important role in putting these ideas into our heads. As consumers, the media influences our perspectives and the schemas we form throughout our lives. As a result of this, the media also manipulates us into certain beliefs about what should be considered beautiful or grotesque.
It is important to note that these ideals, often Eurocentric and perpetuated by the media, have a butterfly effect on society. The miniscule act of scrolling through Instagram and comparing our bodies to other people’s negatively shapes the way we perceive ourselves.
It is not uncommon for media outlets to advertise women of light complexions as more attractive than women of darker complexions. This can cause a child with a darker skin tone to internalize such beauty standards, and can lead to internalized racism.
A person’s identity should never be manipulated by social conventions. Moreover, our self-esteem should never be wholly dependent on how we look, because physical appearances are not all that we are. We are multifaceted beings with dreams and a sense of purpose that cannot be judged through superficial validation.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and you are the beholder of your own beauty.
This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a reply, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Clarenz Salvador is a second-year undergraduate student studying toxicology.
Graphic: Kristine Jones A. Del Socorro | Culture Editor