In today’s world, beauty standards is an incredibly hot topic and something that without knowing, affects all of us. A year 10 student has shared her thoughts and experiences about being a young person living through the continuous pressures that society, our peers and the media place on us to conform…
“I am sure you have all heard of beauty standards, maybe you’ve skipped past an Instagram post about it or perhaps purposely skipped past an article about it in a magazine, but the question is, why do we ignore it but conform to it?
A little about me, my name is Nadine Matthews. I am aged 14, 4’11 in height and considered overweight for my age. I have acne, blackheads and I am a Filipino British citizen. Stereotypically, I do not fit into society’s idea of ‘beautiful’. Someone who would be considered accepted in society’s beauty standards for girls, would be someone with blonde hair, white and pale skin, blue-green eyes, with a slim waist. From a young age I grew up watching Disney, Monster High and Barbie films, which I am sure a lot of young girls like me did as well. Because of this, I would often look at how skinny, clear-skinned and beautiful the characters were. I wondered for a long time why I had no resemblance to those characters, there was not (and still hardly is) any representation for young
boys and girls of realistic body types and appearances with “flaws”. I think it’s important to highlight the things that not only make us human, but also makes us stand out as us. When I was 9 and in primary school, I found myself comparing my body to the other girls in my class, I didn’t like how when I sat down my thighs would spread out or how my tummy rolls would show. I am now currently in secondary school and as I am a quiet person who observes a lot, it makes listening easier to hear what people in my year think about beauty standards. I personally find the things that the boys in my year say about girls and boys, repulsive. I have heard them call people ‘flatter than an ironing board’, god your legs look like tree stumps’, ‘oink, oink fatty’, ‘your legs are like chopsticks’. However, us girls are just as guilty, I’ve heard girls body shame the girl that they are in ‘beef’ with and even sometimes behind their own friends backs. I believe that this name calling, and internalised judgement has stemmed from society’s beauty standards. Us as humans each have our own idea as to what is ‘beautiful’ and what is ‘ugly’, which means everyone’s opinions are different. Maybe not everyone follows the pattern of unhealthy beauty standards for men and women, but if you are not doing anything to help stop this then you are also part of the problem.
I asked my friends, Millie, Maddy, Jess and Emily what they thought. They said, social media has had a huge impact on our generation! Photoshop issued so much that gives an unrealistic ideas of bodies. They also mentioned that occasional comments from the people you are closes to like your friends and family can really reinforce an unhealthy relationship with food or our bodies. Models and the knowledge of their general eating habits in or to be ‘runway ready’ is also damaging and models that are supposed to represent the plus-sized community are normally a very healthy weight and are far from plus-sized, this is another reason why we need more actual ‘plus-sized’ men and women in the media.
feel that there are a lot of improvements to be made and I believe we should start, as individuals, calling out people who are making these awful comments to people. Another improvement that could possibly be made is teachers educating students to not conform to these beauty standards that are unrealistic and toxic for us as the younger generation. I completely understand that it might take a while for us a community to unlearn all these stereotypes and expectations we have for each other, but it is better to try than sit back and do nothing. Young people spend time staring at themselves in the mirror wondering what they could change about their appearance to appear somewhat prettier or more handsome just to ‘fit in’, which just demonstrates to us how we have adapted and followed these beauty standards. A dream I have is that one day we will focus on achievements, personality and what they have done as a person rather than looking at what they look like.”