Beauty standards: who sets them?

We are usually self-conscious and willing to change our appearances so we look similar to what we believe we should look like. But, why do we believe that? Who said what we should look like?

Beauty standards rule our lives. Whether you know it or not, they determine how we feel about ourselves, why we act in certain ways. They have a psychological impact on our minds and a sociological impact on our everyday lives. 

What are the beauty standards we live by?

It only takes a few minutes of scrolling down your social network of choice to realize that, even if there is a conversation going on about body positivity and self-love, there is still a long, long way to go before we stop being oppressed by the idea of what we should or should not look like.

Small waists, big butts, big boobs, perfect skin, it doesn't matter: decade after decade, those of us who are not genetically blessed to fit the standards of that era will constantly feel that we are just not good enough. It doesn't matter if deep down we all know this doesn't make any sense, this just happens. 

'This just happens?' Who is behind beauty standards?

Throughout history, the "ideal" body has changed. However, this has happened following a certain pattern. And, in case you are curious, that pattern is patriarchy. 

During the 1960s, the idea of femininity was rejected.

If you take any decade, from the late 18th century on, you will see that there is one common idea about what the female body should look like: feminine and delicate. And even during those decades where the construct of femininity was rejected (take the 1920s or 1960s, where flat-chested girls and pixie hair cuts were in fashion), the idea of fragility remained intact.

Dr. Jill Andrew, co-founder of Body Confidence Canada, says that this rejection was towards "a heteronormative assumption that women are heterosexual and of course be desiring only the attention of cisgender men.”

Beauty standards are originated from western culture, which is usually determined by the most powerful countries in the region, so it is quite entwined with race. According to Dr. Jill, "race is inextricably linked with our opinions about beauty and who we think is beautiful."

What's ahead?

The 21st century marked a breaking point.

The 21st century is, in a way, the era in which we finally use our own voices to tell everyone that there is no such thing as a perfect body. And while major brands are playing their cards by joining this movement in order to adapt and survive, there is no denying that it is also helpful for the purpose of shifting the way we see ourselves. Or, as a matter of fact, shifting the way in which they see ourselves. Because no matter what we have been made to believe for so long, we always knew, deep down, that the problem was not us.

There is still a long road ahead of us, as a society, to understand that these parameters are damaging. But wheels definitely started spinning!

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