Today it is harder than ever for us to be happy with ourselves; and with our multiple connections on social media, movie and TV show streaming services and subscriptions to beauty and lifestyle magazines, how can anyone expect us to be?
Our generation sees hundreds of people every day, maybe in real life, but always through a screen or some kind of print publication – it’s everywhere and we are beyond the point of being able to cut ourselves off from it.
The worst part of it is that we continue to perpetuate this idea of perfection through media and social media and it affects the way we feel about ourselves. Whether it’s the constant body shaming of beautiful celebrities like Ariana Grande and Ariel Winter or it’s the Instagram-famous 18-year-old striving for social media validation, these ideals of perfection are becoming toxic.
First off, I can’t understand why anyone would tell Ariana Grande she isn’t beautiful. Yes, she is petite, that’s how she was made. I can’t understand why anyone would tell Ariel Winter she isn’t beautiful. She has big breasts and a gorgeous curvy figure and that’s how she was made. These young women are both so beautiful and let’s not forget talented. Why are people making so many remarks about the way that they look, rather than recognizing how good they are at what they do?
By doing this, we are saying these young women that so many girls love and look up to aren’t good enough. If Ariana Grande and Ariel Winter aren’t good enough, what does that say about the girls who idolize them?
If we put down women in the media and shame them for the way that they look, particularly their body shape, we are saying that what they look like is more important than what they do. We are telling these ladies that they need to achieve a level of perfection that is impossible to reach and it sets a standard for every young girl. Every girl is going to feel the need to try harder, be prettier and value herself for how she looks, not her talents.
So many young women have seen the beauty standards that society has set through media and social media, that they have felt the need to achieve such success. So many women feel the need to achieve the level of impossible and fake perfection that they see in these mediums and they see the validation that celebrities get. Young girls strive to find this same validation through social media and work to become Instagram or Tumblr famous. These women do things that aren’t healthy to feel good about themselves, causing other girls want to do the same thing for a couple of “likes.”
Take Essena O’Neill, an 18-year-old who recently retired from her Instagram and Tumblr fame because of the way that her life became. She starved herself to create the perfect image. She took the same photo 100 times before she found one that looked good enough to post on Instagram. This isn’t real; it’s staged, just like many real celebrities’ photo shoots in magazines and make-up in movies. Yet, so many girls have a hard time seeing that and they want to emulate it because they see the amount of “likes” the post gets.
My first ever Instagram photo. I remember I obsessively checked the like count for a full week since uploading it. It got like 5 likes. This was when I was so hungry for social media validation. This was 172 weeks ago from now – now marks the day I quit all social media and focus on real life projects. 27/10/15
NOT REAL LIFE – took over 100 in similar poses trying to make my stomach look good. Would have hardly eaten that day. Would have yelled at my little sister to keep taking them until I was somewhat proud of this. Yep so totally #goals
A photo posted by Social Media Is Not Real Life (@essenaoneill) on
It’s so hard in today’s society for us to be happy with ourselves because of all of this. Sometimes it’s hard to remember not to be jealous of the girl who posted that perfect swimsuit photo on Instagram and got hundreds of “likes.” It’s hard to remember not to wish we were as beautiful as the women we see in movies or TV because so many men talk about how “hot” they are and we want that kind of attention too.
But, we need to remember because these things aren’t real. The girl in that photo probably went through great lengths to take the perfect one and edit it before posting it. That celebrity in that movie has professional make-up artists and expensive camera lighting. What looks like perfection is something that doesn’t exist, it’s made up and portrayed as something real.
The most important thing we need to remember is that we should strive to be successful and talented and we should be proud of ourselves for our accomplishments, not our appearance. We should stop craving the attention from men or the envy from other women for being beautiful.
The best compliment you could receive is something about your personality or your talent, not about the way that you look. You should want to be valued for more than your appearance.
To learn more about Essena O’Neill’s efforts to stop social media validation check out her website here.