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The detrimental impact of aesthetic norms on emotional wellness

Embracing Non-toxic Beauty Ideals

By Hridya SharmaPublished about a month ago 6 min read

What are beauty standards and where do they stem from?

Beauty standards are cultural beliefs that influence social power and dictate how individuals should look to be socially accepted. These standards encompass physical features like facial appearance, skin, and body shape, and can be either innate or alterable. Terms like "attractive," "pretty," and "good looking" are used to describe adherence to these standards. It can be challenging to determine which features can be changed and which cannot. Not conforming to societal beauty standards by refusing to alter one's appearance is often viewed as a moral failure. For instance, wearing makeup is not a natural or biological choice, but rather influenced by current trends.

A slender physique. The hourglass body shape is characterized by a well-defined waistline and balanced proportions between the hips and bust. Facially proportions that are preferred by science. The individual has big eyes. A small and slender nose. This refers to hair that is not curly or wavy, but instead lies flat and smooth. Skin that is clear, radiant, and free of any imperfections or roughness. There are no wrinkles present. Makeup that enhances natural beauty without looking heavy or artificial. Clothing that is in line with current fashion trends or bought from particular brands or stores.

When it comes to understanding how beauty standards affect mental health, the most important thing to remember is that there is no singular, universal, true standard of beauty. We can look at the history of beauty standards, market research, social media, and cultural values. As cultural values change and influence consumer behavior, there are opportunities for changes in beauty standards.

Exposure to these toxic beauty standards

We are constantly bombarded with beauty standards through different forms of media, including advertisements, social media, TV, and magazines. These platforms often showcase images of models and celebrities who conform to a strict definition of beauty, which can impact how we view our own attractiveness. This can result in feelings of poor body image, low self-esteem, and mental health issues if we feel we don't measure up to these standards. Our friends and family play a big role in shaping our idea of what is beautiful. From a young age, we are influenced by their opinions and comments about our appearance. As we get older, we may continue to seek their validation and advice, which can further solidify our beliefs about beauty standards.

Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok often promote beauty standards through carefully curated images and videos. Influencers and celebrities with large followings often set trends and those who conform to mainstream beauty ideals tend to gain more followers. This constant exposure to unrealistic beauty standards can negatively impact self-esteem and body image. However, some argue that social media also exposes us to diverse bodies and appearances, which can promote positive body image. It's important to curate a feed that promotes a sense of positive body image, tailored to your own preferences.

Implications of the Beauty Standards on psychological wellness

The increasing concern about the influence of beauty standards on mental health has been supported by research, which indicates that unrealistic beauty standards can result in low self-esteem, poor body image, anxiety, depression, social withdrawal, and eating disorders. It is important to understand the connection between beauty standards and mental well-being and take action to address it. The psychological impact of beauty standards is significant and can have a wide-reaching impact. Despite concerns that focusing on appearance may be seen as shallow, the effects on mental health, self-esteem, and body image have been extensively researched. This section will explore the negative consequences of being exposed to and trying to meet unrealistic beauty standards. Having low self esteem can make it challenging to feel like you can achieve the things you want in life, such as maintaining relationships and pursuing career opportunities.

While it is not a mental health diagnosis, low self esteem can impact overall well-being and contribute to mental health problems. It can make it difficult to be the person you aspire to be if you are not satisfied with your appearance. Negative body image goes beyond just feeling dissatisfied with one's appearance. It can also involve feeling shame and embarrassment about how one looks, and even feeling guilty or blaming oneself for their appearance.

Many believe that diet and exercise can completely determine our physical appearance, but it takes time and support to understand the underlying reasons for negative body image. Eating disorders are complex and serious conditions that are influenced by a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. While beauty standards alone do not solely cause eating disorders, there is a connection between the cultural emphasis on thinness and the development of restrictive, bingeing, and purging behaviors. Eating disorders are diagnosable mental health disorders, but individuals can also experience distress and disruption in their lives from disordered eating behaviors that do not meet specific diagnostic criteria.

Approaches for Dispelling the Subject of Beauty Myth

Dealing with the mental impact of societal beauty standards can be difficult, as they are constantly reinforced in various aspects of our lives. While beauty is subjective, these standards are rigidly defined. Despite this being a complex issue, there are individual steps you can take to manage the negative effects such as low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and unhealthy eating habits. While it can be challenging, addressing these effects can lead to a stronger connection with oneself and others, improved body image, self-acceptance, and reduced distress from mental health issues. Although beauty standards are unlikely to disappear soon, it's important to remember that you are not alone in facing these challenges. It is crucial to find a supportive community to promote positive body image and heal from harmful beauty standards.

This can involve discussing your feelings with friends and family, joining online spaces focused on body neutrality, and unfollowing individuals on social media who make you feel inadequate. Following a variety of accounts that showcase people of different ages, sizes, and racial backgrounds can also help in cultivating a more diverse and inclusive perspective on body image. Personal style is defined as finding clothing and grooming styles that make you feel like yourself, especially when struggling with a distorted body image. It can be empowering to discover fashion options that work for you and to see more inclusivity in the fashion industry.

Working with a personal stylist who is experienced with all body types can be beneficial in developing a positive body image and increasing satisfaction with your body. Improving your connection to food is crucial for both physical health and overcoming societal beauty standards. Working with a therapist and a dietitian, particularly those who focus on intuitive eating, can help alleviate anxiety and improve your relationship with food. Attending therapy can be very beneficial for both mental and physical health. It can help individuals with diagnosed mental health disorders as well as those affected by societal beauty standards and mental health issues.

Affirmations for dealing with the toxic impact of beauty standards and being confident in your body

These affirmations about your body that are positive can help you get started:

  • Just as it is, my body is worthy of respect and affection.
  • My body supports, nurtures, and desires my success.
  • I accept and love myself without reservation.
  • Just as I am, I am whole and perfect.
  • It is a blessing that I am in this body here.
  • My identity is not my body type. My weight does not define my worth.
  • I'd rather receive love and healing than self-hatred and self-harm.
  • It's just a number, weight. What matters is how I feel.
  • I am grateful to my food for providing my body with nourishment.
  • I am appreciative of my body's abilities.

  • I have everything I need in this moment
  • What's meant to be will be
  • My desires are always seeking me out, so it is safe for me to let go and trust the process
  • I am okay with whichever the situation goes, because everything works out to be in my best favour
  • I am aware of my feelings without letting them control me
  • I am not rigid of my idea of how everything around me functions
  • Everything around me can flow freely because I let go of any expectations
  • I focus on my own energy and my own life.
  • I choose to be free from the good and bad opinions of others
  • I release the need to judge or critcise

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Hridya Sharma

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    Hridya SharmaWritten by Hridya Sharma

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