How Media Has Shaped Body Standards
Clear skin, full lips, toned abs, tall, slender, hourglass figure and so much more has become the body standard for being beautiful.
Though beauty is a relative concept, the fact is there are marks that have to be met before one is widely regarded as such. Inner beauty, beauty with brains and other variants are deemed anti-physical because their predictions are based on abstract qualities.
Yet, beauty has left the eye of the beholder and is now in the hands of the media to decide what attributes make one truly beautiful. Mental, physical and physiological wellbeing have become less important when compared to the gratification individuals receive for conforming to these standards.
Body image is how one perceives oneself when looking into the mirror. Positive body image is when one is self-aware of how they actually are, accepts it and knows how to work it.
Negative body image which is more common is when there is a disconnect between how one perceives themselves and their size, and this is where the struggle is.
Avoiding socialisation, forms of happiness and having an extreme obsession with those disliked body qualities leads to eating disorders, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorders that greatly affect a person’s health and quality of life.
The fact is body standards are not a foreign concept, over the years Nigeria and Africa, as a whole has seen a shift in the acceptable body standard and clothes worn to accentuate these presumed good body qualities, though beauty standards vary from region to region and are ephemeral.
Arguably, the new “Kardashian” body standard seems to have found its roots from Africa as voluptuous, curvy bodies, tanned skin and full lips are body characteristics common in the females of this part of the world.
Media presents unrealistic beauty standards in the form of photoshopped celebrities or stick-thin fashion models but hides the pain and damages to achieve that particular posture.
Watching a backstage preview of modelling shows, you will see the terrible regimen, unfriendly methods used to get them to look’ fabulous ‘ but all these true bits are not shown, making the audience think they woke up that way.
How is the media forcing those standards?
Sitting through those commercials of models with unrealistic physique working out or scrolling through your social media feed, seeing this flawless image and feeling incomplete is exactly what the commercial or picture intended to make you feel. Media gains from forcing these unrealistic images onto your face and then procure solutions to things that were never problems until they mention it.
Body shaming is now a trend which you become more accessible to through media, as internet trolls use media to offset negative perspectives. From wrinkle creams, waist trimmers to going under the knife, the list of proposed solutions is endless, but to what end?
What To Do
This is a simple case of drink water and mind your business. There are many ways in which the media can exploit one’s low self-esteem.
So the first thing is to limit media access showcasing these trends to you. You need to be deliberate about seeking positive outlets of inspiration and motivation, be it in music, film or shows. Work on yourself and improve physically, psychologically, socially and health-wise. it’s not a bad idea to reinvent yourself but make sure you are not sacrificing a part of yourself to get there.
Cut out celebrity news and reality shows. Shows and news about celebrities are often doctored and crafted to get a high number of views and ratings.
Only if we break from the constant stream of this, alongside other factors, will we see ourselves as humans? Let’s choose role models that lead us to lead soul-lifting and healthy lives instead.