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12th March 2020

The unattainable beauty standards of social media

Unattainable beauty standards are everywhere, but social media is changing exponentially increasing these pressures
The unattainable beauty standards of social media
Gym Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

From teeth whitening kits to a myriad of diets, there seems to be a never-ending pressure to achieve society’s unattainable beauty standards.

One could argue that unattainable beauty standards have always and will always exist. In the 60s models, such as Twiggy, portrayed a very skinny look making this seem desirable and attainable. However, what makes today’s unattainable beauty standards so dangerous is social media. We, as young people, have easy access to any social media platform, such as Instagram and Snapchat. On social media, we tend to compare ourselves to often photoshopped models and celebrities. Despite our awareness of camera angles and other trickery, we still subconsciously believe that beauty is defined by these unattainable standards. A study by Girl Scouts of America discovered 88% of over 1000 adolescent girls surveyed believe the media puts a lot of pressure on them to look a certain way. Instead, be conscious of how you use social media and follow the many artists and activists that are present on these platforms to make it an enjoyable experience, unless you have the willpower to just delete your account altogether!

These standards can result in a lack of confidence, and mean we want to change our bodies. Bigorexia, known as muscular dysmorphia, refers to a body dysmorphic disorder in which someone develops an unattainable desire to be as muscular as possible. According to a report in 2015 by the BBC, one out of ten men who are gyms goers have this disorder. Whilst other factors contribute, such as trauma, genes, and traditional media, social media has made this more common.

From 2017 to 2018, the number of plastic surgeries increased by nearly 250,000 operations, according to a survey carried out. The topic of plastic surgery is controversial, however, the unattainable beauty standards of today have undeniably contributed to this rise in plastic surgery. Both women and men pay lots of money to undergo a procedure to change their body to achieve a ‘perfect’ appearance, and in some extreme cases, people put their own health at risk. In some body-building communities, people have injected cooking oil into their muscles in order to bulk their muscles, which can lead to deformities, as an alternative to actual plastic surgery.

It is clear that today’s unattainable beauty standards are driving people to do anything, even if it ruins their health, to achieve these beauty standards. With the growth of fashion bloggers and social media influencers, there is more emphasis on appearance than ever. We should stop putting value on our bodies, and our appearance and start building each other’s confidence.

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