Plenty of our social media platforms today have granted us easier accessibility to seek out what other people everywhere are doing and how they personally broadcast themselves to the rest of the world. Sometimes, however, it’s understandably exhausting scrolling through everyone’s Instagram or Facebook profiles and seeing how they appear to be both overwhelmingly physically attractive and financially well-off. It can leave us thinking, “Well gee! What am I not doing to get to that level in life? Why don’t I look like that? What abs exercises do they do so I can get mine to look like theirs?”.
Thoughts like these are often rooted in some people not feeling good enough, thus feeling pressure to change their appearance in hopes to conform to expectations under the guise of ‘looking good’. But what exactly is ‘looking good’ anyway? That question may not seem tricky at all until we remember that the idea of looking good alone has many different definitions for everyone. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t universal standards set in place with historical context.
Since its foundation, America’s general goal was to be the epitome of this exceptional, free-for-all wonderland, compared to everyone else. Nowadays, the president only boasts about being this way despite glaringly obvious, contradicting evidence. Several citizens would agree America is the main country that is proud of the idea of what they think they are, and rarely ever honest about what America has actually become. Anyhow, it’s no secret that the ‘Eurocentric beauty standards’ have been closely integrated with American culture (seeing as they’ve learned from other countries, ahem Germany). As a result, it has long been commonplace to associate conventionally attractive white, cis-gendered, heterosexual, thin, able-bodied, and upper-class people as the standard of success, even to this day.
The issue at hand is that anyone else that doesn’t fit into one or more of these limiting molds often find it difficult to see themselves fully represented as beautiful or worthy of being seen as valuable human beings. While the fault shouldn’t necessarily be pointed towards the more privileged Instagram “influencers” and models of the world, there is no denying that there has become a normalization for internalized inadequacy and unhealthy, damaging comparisons.
Such comparisons can really hit differently during our tough days when we’re depressed, anxious, or frustrated. In that state of mind, we often easily beat ourselves up over physical imperfections and flaws. We could look at ourselves and not quite see the qualities we think are beautiful, which can be linked to other peoples’ expectations and what they have told us we should be. Typically to every physical flaw, there is always a socially-acceptable alternative along with a suggestive, “simple”, and costly solution. So then the question becomes...what if that’s not what you want? What if you simply don’t aspire to chase after the desire to obtain these often unfeasible beauty standards for yourself? What if your definition of looking & feeling good isn’t what’s considered normal or socially acceptable?
After all, the purpose of self-care is to have control over your physical and mental health because you should not be harming yourself and others. You do not have to be thin and wealthy in order to feel worthy (not to dump on those individuals that happen to be that). In fact, dedicating so much energy on fixing physical alterations rarely ever solves your internal insecurities, especially not for the long-term.
I’m here to let you know that not only should you not feel pressured to live up to a certain image of beauty standards, but there should be a line drawn when it comes to trying to change ourselves based on one or more of these images people purposely put out on their social media. We honestly have no idea how much of themselves they’re really presenting based on singular or multiple pictures and in that process, we can lose ourselves and deviate from the purpose of healthy self-care.
Go for a jog, don't go for a jog.Meditate as much as you can. Meditate for only one or two days if you'd like. Eat a nutritious meal. Eat a bunch of junk food all day. Whatever it is you feel good about doing (as long as you're not harming yourself or anyone else), do that! At the end of the day no matter who you’re around, you will always have yourself to look out for. You are not selfish for wanting to focus on your physical or mental health. You are also not selfish for not caring to create an aesthetically pleasing IG-friendly version of yourself either. No one else will and no one else should ever take that power away from you.
Written by Veronica Nicole