Dear World. Yes, I am a SENIOR in college. NO, I do not have my life together. But I am getting closer every day.
I am inherently insecure. I think too much. And I allow myself to get lost in our superficial society by letting the societal ideology of beauty dictate my own ideology of beauty.
Throughout the course of this semester, I’ve studied, analyzed and reflected on the issue of body image in our contemporary society, particularly through the framework of new media.
New media is a manipulative platform. In this digital age of the Internet, nothing is impossible. The Internet shrinks our world. Social media sites, YouTube and Google give our society endless and instantaneous access to information about other people. And with the growing popularity of social media, privacy is a thing of the past. We all post pictures, status updates, tweets and even blog posts documenting our lives and composing a persona for the outside world to see.
See/ observe/ judge—there’s no difference really.
This constant communication and feed of information across cities, countries and even continents creates a society poised for competition. Especially among women and girls. We are shown constant images of women with perfect bodies, and feel guilty and disappointed in ourselves for not also looking so perfect. Society intends to make us weaker by dictating our ideology on beauty. They manipulate us into allowing our physical appearance dictate our self worth. They have so much power over us.
This power creates detrimental effects.
I believe this video encompasses everything I’ve been trying to convey this semester about women and body image.
But, I believe we contribute to the problem just as much as the media. We buy the magazines, watch the movies and obsess over the celebrities with the “perfect” bodies. It’s not necessarily our fault. Our ideology on beauty is dictated by our upbringing in society and what we are conditioned to believe. We are ultimately powerless until we become aware of the power structures between the media, celebrities and us normal people. We are prisoners of our preconceived notions on beauty, dictated by a society that perpetuates the ideal female body every day throughout new media.
The media further manipulates us by using technology and Photoshop to digitally perfect the female body, and label these false creations as attainable, flawless and inspirational. We should all strive to mirror the ideal. Our inability to do this makes us feel inadequate. This inadequacy is a reflection of our own insecurity about our bodies. The insecurity that society wants us to have. If we’re insecure, they win.
I firmly believe that my insecurity is my greatest shortcoming. I am my own worst enemy. This intense focus on body image over the course of the semester made me realize this.
And frankly, I’m sick of body image issues. Let me clarify that: I’m sick of our superficial society that creates the environment for females to feel like their self worth is based on physical appearances. We are so much more than our bodies.
And I fall victim to it too. Every day I allow myself to become a victim. Yes, I allow myself. I think that we all play a role in our feelings of insignificance. I wish to be thinner, I put myself down for missing workouts when I’m cooped up in the library and I compare myself to celebrities constantly. My problem is rooted in my inability to celebrate my strengths and view my flaws as temporary issues that can be worked on, and improved. This is what I’ve learned from analyzing body image campaigns throughout new media this semester. Self-love is a process… It’s a constant journey.
And heck, if you want to improve your body, start exercising. But do it because you want to be healthier, not look better. Do it to feel better. But remember that getting fit takes time. Our current bodies were not created over night and our desire for a healthier body cannot be accomplished immediately. Our mindset has developed over years of exposure to the ideal female body. Accepting our own bodies as beautiful in their unique shapes will take time.
We should all strive to celebrate our strengths and be grateful for our blessings. It’s not an easy task, and it definitely cannot be done overnight, but I think its possible.
We must always remember that the bodies we see throughout new media are constructed images with digital enhancements. They attach words challenging us to mirror the deceptively perfected image, and make us feel like we suck because we can’t do it. News flash, it’s because those bodies are fake.
Projects dedicated to promoting a healthier body image aim to counter this falsehood by projecting sincerity and “real” bodies.
But, YOU ARE REAL just as I AM REAL. Regardless of our differing shapes. We exist and we don’t suck just because our bodies aren’t perfect. And honestly, I think these new media projects take the wrong approach, because they are still focused on our physical bodies.
Women are constantly reduced to this one characterization of our body type. As if nothing else about us matters. It’s the first thing anybody ever sees, and often, our beauty is powerful enough to affect how we interact with other people. It can create intense insecurity if you don’t fit the ideal mold of beauty, just as it can create a sense of entitlement. We are prisoners of our own image. An image that is so heavily skewed by the societal discourse surrounding beauty.
Our generation especially suffers, severely. We simply don’t like ourselves. And for what? So that industries can make profits from us. So that they can sell their products, or clothing or magazines or movies… It’s not worth it. Society creates a battlefield where we are the soldiers fighting against ourselves. We never reap the benefits. Instead, our insecurity heightens.
We’re so insecure and so judgmental, yet we don’t want anybody to judge us. It’s such hypocrisy. Rather than uplift the community of women we’re surrounded with, we compete with one another, because that’s what society implants in our minds. Every advertisement directed towards women is trying to tell us that we lack something. We need such-and-such product in order to compensate for our lack of natural beauty—the lack of physical perfection.
Nobody is perfect. Let’s not hate on ourselves for our imperfections.
You are inevitably flawed and perfectly human. You are wonderful. BELIEVE IT.
As I’ve previously said on this blog, “I believe all of my issues stem from a strong and powerful self-hatred. I’ve known this for a while. I am disappointed with myself. I lack self worth. I let [other peoples’] opinion of me dictate my personal views. A number on a scale has immeasurable power over my moods. And I seek comfort in food. Yet, I’ve never done anything about it until now.”
I retract that last statement I wrote 3 months ago. I instead say with full confidence today that I’ve never done anything about my insecurity until now—this very moment. I’m having an epiphany people.
Let’s associate our self worth, instead, with our minds, hearts and souls. Our characters define us. Get to know yourself! What makes you, YOU? What are your passions, your goals and your favorite personality traits? Write one thing down every day that you like about yourself, outside of your appearance, until you grow to like yourself. But remember, it’s a process. We can start the journey together.
Here is mine: I like my ability to relate to people and make them feel comfortable through my honesty.
So, even if society is making you feel inadequate, remember that they don’t know you. Use your list, because it’s your secret weapon. Your soul is REAL, and your mental health is most important. Your heart is full of warmth and love. Your mind is beautiful.
Society expects us to be perfect, and we waste so much time trying to reach that impossible ideal. It’s not feasible. Humans are not perfect. Beauty isn’t objective. We are more than the physical bodies that we inherited through genetics from our parents. We had no control over this. Beauty is so insignificant. I’ve met beautiful people with ugly souls.
Be the best you, and your inner beauty will shine through.
Embody beauty, you beautiful person.