Become confident in your own skin

An article was written denouncing the Barbie doll and her measurements as being anatomically impossible (“Barbie As A Real Woman Is Anatomically Impossible And Would Have To Walk On All Fours, Chart Shows”, bySasha Goldstein, New York Daily News). The article cleverly showed how ridiculous Barbie is as a role model and the catastrophic effects idealizing the impossible can have.

For decades, the iconic toy was one of the biggest influences on young girls for feminine role play and set the standard for aspiring young woman. Barbie represented a tiny slice of the population — blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and tiny.

Between her very specific features and her very wide audience, her beauty standard was an impossible act to follow. For most children, she was a reference point, not a road map. She was one of the many beauty standards that have made an impact on our definition of pretty.

The modeling industry, as well as marketing firms, have spent billions of dollars trying to frame what beauty looks and feels like. Most images aren’t just attempting to sell you a ‘look’ — they’re also trying to sell you a way of feeling. Both the look and the feeling are usually artificial and an impossible standard. The goal in selling you is to make you believe the only way to feel the happiness you see in the images is to look like, own, and engage in the activities you see.

“Every body is beautiful and every body is different. Some people are meant to be a size negative zero and some people are meant to be a size 16.” — Danielle Redman

The thing about beauty standards is they change. A look at decades past easily illustrates that nothing stays in favor forever. What’s in one moment is out and considered old school or vintage before long. Plus, everything comes back around again as the new (old)standard. 

It’s important not to fall into the trap of believing there is a standard of beauty at all.

Who you are and the physical attributes you have are perfect right now — in every season and every trend. You may not feel that every element of what you look like is on-trend now, and you’re right. Maybe freckles are in, maybe they’re out. Maybe being curvy is in, maybe it’s out. That’s why it’s important to be confident in the skin you’re in and celebrate your unique attributes, regardless of the trends.

If a beauty standard seems impossible to achieve, it’s vital that you recognize it and not allow any expectation to exist. 

Here are some hidden ways beauty standards are exaggerated and virtually impossible to achieve:

  • Weight — This one is the oldest standard in the book. Though what’s considered attractive has morphed through the years, chances are the standard you admire comes at a high price. From eating disorders to abuse, being thin has disadvantages that do out-weigh the hype of being considered the weight standard.
  • Perfect breasts — Whether photo-shopped or surgically enhanced, many of the women you admire with small waistlines, narrow hips, and large perfect breasts have been enhanced by man or computer.
  • Incredibly thick hair —  Many of the thick-haired beauties you see are enhanced by hairpieces and hair extensions. Anyone can have thicker hair thanks to this innovation, but celebrities and performers tend to be the biggest users of these products.
  • Straight, white teeth —  Cosmetic dentistry is on the rise. Even braces are becoming obsolete as men and women are opting for caps and laboratory created implants. Teeth whitening is a booming industry too. From Crest White Strips to cosmetic teeth whitening, those pearly whites you admire may not be natural.
  • Wrinkle-free- Chemical peels, Botox, and facelifts account for much of the anti-aging phenoms we see. From celebrities who never seem to age to the men and women who seem to get younger every year, being wrinkle free is a standard that most people can’t achieve. While you can take better care of your skin and reduce the signs of aging, we’re all going to get wrinkles. 

Don’t spend an ounce of time trying to conform to beauty standards that aren’t based in reality. 

If you want to emulate a look — go for it. Just don’t beat yourself up over your comparison to that standard until you know if the standard is real. 

Even then, focus on your own standard and do what makes you feel beautiful and confident.

Become Aware Of The Influence Media Has on Your Body Image

Maybe it isn’t new information that the media is highly manipulative and uses imagery and other influences to mold your idea of what’s beautiful. Though not new information, it’s worth repeating.

The media is influencing you — all the time.

The media uses an arsenal of tactics to attract and influence your perceptions. Take a look at a few here: social media influencers; celebrities; focus groups; split testing; psychology; and so much more.

The media has an agenda — to sell more product and create either a vision of exclusiveness or bandwagoning about a trend. They want you to feel like the image you see is the epitome of excellence, beauty, success, or wealth. That all you need for life’s goals is the image they’ve created.

What does that do to your body image?

If you’re one of the small percentage of people who meet the demographic depicted, it probably validates you. Outside of that small percentage, you likely feel inadequate, unqualified, left out, or some other negative way. It’s difficult to see an ideal when you don’t resemble what’s being shown.

Here are some things to consider when you feel influenced by the media:

  • Things always change —  Remember banana clips and stirrup pants? If you do, then you realize that they’re not necessarily in style. You may also remember the 1980’s when rounder, fuller-figures were the norm. Things always change. What’s in style today — whatever is considered the perfect body type, hair style, skin color — is going to change. This is how industries keep people spending money. If we settled on one-and-done style, then there’d be no reason to buy anything new. This is the focus of media and their push towards a new ideal.
  • The global community is varied —  No matter what’s deemed ideal in one area of the world, there’s another area where something else — in stark contradiction — is preferred. If what you see in the media is making you feel bad about yourself, think globally and realize who you are and what you’ve got is absolutely perfect.
  • You’re not always their target audience —  Media is targeting an audience. They do this because having an avatar is always the top priority in marketing. It’s possible that you aren’t their target and therefore won’t feel compelled to buy from them or be influenced by them. Don’t feel poorly about yourself if you aren’t the magnet to their steel.
  • Even they don’t believe what they’re presenting —  What you see the media promoting is the culmination of many things including digital enhancement and other sleight of hand tricks. If you were sitting in planning meetings with companies, you’d see that the people making the decisions are not always flawless. They’re everyday people just like you and me. They likely don’t believe what they’re presenting as the only way to be, look, or experience their product, but they must take a position and sell it through their marketing.
  • In the end, none of it matters —  In the end, none of this matters. How you look is irrelevant to the blind. What brand of face cream you use won’t make you a better parent. Holding a cup with a green straw and mermaid won’t make your life magical. 

In the end, all that matters is being true to yourself and those you love most.

The media has an agenda and it isn’t connected to yours 100% of the time. When the imagery, message, and product are right for you, there’ll be a connection. Outside of this, keep your head and your heart guarded and know that there are a million ways to show up in this world and the media is only focused on one at a time.

Define Your Own Beauty — Find What Makes You Feel Beautiful And Confident

What do you think is beautiful? Do you have a favorite color, style, or motif? How do you define beauty? These are important questions. 

How you define your own beauty and finding what makes you feel beautiful is a key component to being confident in your own skin and with who you are.

Sometimes we’re so busy with our lives that we lose track of what we think is beautiful. We’re bombarded by external messages and influenced by opinions and we forget to check with ourselves about what we truly think is beautiful, inside and out. This can affect us in many ways.

Take a look at how not knowing what you prefer can derail your confidence:

  • You lack confident opinions —  Following trends or the opinions of others can lead to not having any of your own. Not only does this strip down your confidence, it makes you look unattractive. People are drawn to people who have an identifiable style and opinions. They want to connect and do their best when they can clearly see who you are and what you stand for. 
  • You forgo what you love in service to others — Having a servant’s heart is a noble thing. There’s a difference between being of service and becoming a doormat. Not knowing your definitions of beauty and what makes you feel amazing can lead to taking on trends and looks that don’t feel right. You may look great and do great things in others’ eyes, but in your own you feel empty. 
  • You can become a martyr —  Over time, setting aside your opinions for the sake of the ‘team’ can lead to martyrdom. This is the last place you want to be. It’s the passive-aggressive space people fall into when they’ve given up their dreams and preferences to appease others. Done with horrible amounts of resentment and anger, this can destroy relationships, cause depression, and a host of other unnecessary conditions.

You can define what you think is beautiful and own it, no matter if or how it fits with anyone else’s ideas. 

That’s the beauty of beauty — it only has to be beautiful to you, the beholder.

If you struggle with owning your own definition of beauty, ask yourself these questions:

  • Was there a time when you were made fun of for something you loved?
  • Was a significant person overly controlling of your clothing or other choices as a child?
  • What messages did you receive in your younger years about the music, books, clothing, or decorative styles you preferred?

If these questions bring back specific memories of someone squashing your personal preferences, you may need some healing to get back to the space of owning your own ideals.

If you find that you’ve been derailed by outside opinions and have lost your own sense of beauty, simply start to notice what you prefer. Pay attention to what you like and start to keep track of what you find beautiful or eye-catching. The next time you need to make a purchase or get dressed up, emulate it or express yourself in this new way. It may feel awkward at first, but the more you lean into your heart’s preferences, the better you’ll feel and more confident you’ll become.

Don’t conform to impossible beauty standards. Define your own beauty. 

Become confident in your own skin and with who you are.

George is a writer focusing on writing, books, self-improvement and personal development.
George is a writer focusing on writing, books, self-improvement and personal development.
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