A little girl sits on the floor, playing with her Barbie dolls. She brushes through the tangled blonde hair with a hot pink streak going through it. She runs her hand over the smoothness of her body: the thin arms, the flat stomach, the long legs. A deep sigh escapes her lips, longing to look like the beautiful Barbie doll.
Fast forward. The little girl is now a teenager. She sits in front of the television, watching a model strut down a runway exposing her body in lingerie. The model is tall with a lanky build, and her hip bones jut out. She shuts off the TV as tears pool in her eyes. Her eyes shift to the copy of National Enquirer sitting atop her coffee table; “25 Worst Beach Bodies,” the headline reads with pictures of women caught off guard, showing off their rolls and love handles. The teen scurries to the bathroom, hanging her head over the toilet bowl. She forces herself to throw up the crackers and she’s eaten over the day. She gazes at her ghostly reflection, longing to look like the beautiful model on TV.
Years later. The teenager is now an adult. She is hunched over her phone, constantly refreshing and scrolling through her Instagram feed. Through all of the heavily filtered and airbrushed photos, she is constantly told by famous women that she is not attractive enough. “If I had a body like this I’d never complain again,” she says at the pictures of the slim models with curves in all of the right places, posing with bright smiles and sexy smolders. She squeezes her body into a skin-tight waist trainer and she takes a sip of the FitTea that the Kardashians told her to buy. Her head spins; must be the new diet. When the juice cleanses, the cabbage soup diet, and cotton ball diet didn’t work, she turned to the five-bite diet. And...well...she’s losing the weight. Anything to look like the beautiful influencers on social media.
And so ever since she was a young, impressionable girl, she’d kept this image inside her head of what exactly the perfect body is and what it would take to achieve it. The one that they see advertised everywhere: the one that works out 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, the one who alters her appearance with botox and lip fillers and implants.
She should be encouraged to feel comfortable in her own skin. But no, women are pressured to live up to society’s impossible standards or risk being considered unattractive.
She needs that perfect hourglass figure: big butt, skinny waist, perky boobs, flat stomach. The face too, the face needs to look just as attractive as the body does, and the only way to get the pretty face is with makeup because the natural face is just too ugly. But the way it’s put it on has to look natural, like she isn’t wearing makeup at all because if she cakes too much of it on she’ll look like a whore.
And she constantly looks in the mirror with such unhappiness because she doesn’t look like that standard. She will flex her upper arms only to discover that they are too flabby. She will squeeze and stretch the skin on her stomach so that it will look flat enough for just a moment. She will stare at her face and curse at that one zit that comes back just when it has started to go away. And she will criticize herself from the hairs on her head to the tips of her toes until she convinces herself that she is a complete piece of garbage.
The motivation to be exactly like her favorite celebrity drives her to extremely dangerous tendencies. Willing to starve herself and diet to the point where she’s given herself an eating disorder because about 50% of women use unhealthy behaviors to control their weight. She’ll have plastic surgery until she’s left with a drained bank account and a look that can’t compare to her old self because approximately 80% of women are unhappy with the way they look. She’ll push herself into intense workouts until her whole body is throbbing with pain. All of this risky behavior just to feel like she is worthy of beauty; it’s ridiculous.
Women will never win; women will never live up to society’s expectations. It is time to stop using the flawless model to advertise products that consumers think they need. Because that is not real. Real is allowing them to express themselves unapologetically without any judgment because their real self is beautiful.