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Promoting Self-Acceptance – Discussion on Beauty Standards

All of us have different perceptions of beauty – it is influenced by our upbringing, the people around us and the media content we consume. It differs from individual to individual, but it also differs from country to country. An experiment was conducted, in fact, to further prove the different beauty standards around the world. Designers were asked to photoshop the same model to showcase the beauty standards upheld in their own country, and the results couldn’t be more different than each other. Seeing as how the image of what is deemed as a beautiful woman can differ so much, why do we try so hard to fit ourselves into a one-size-fits-all mould?  

Our obsession with becoming beautiful isn’t new, but it is becoming progressively worse as we are fed with more media content of what the ideal woman should look like. This includes but is not limited to long glossy hair, a 25-inch waist, big assets’ and fair or sun tanned skin. Admittedly, the new age trend of Instagram models and influencers further exacerbates this issue as we now compare ourselves to celebrities and real-life people. As a result, some women starve themselves to be as skinny as the size 0 models both on the fashion runway and on social media, causing them to suffer from eating disorders that eventually harm their physical and mental health. Other women undergo cosmetic and/or plastic surgery – without proper research, they can end up at unlicensed clinics under the hands of uncertified doctors. 

Despite this, the obsession with being beautiful or fitting in is understandable, especially in countries such as South Korea. With their lookism culture, South Korea places a heavy emphasis on one’s looks. The better-looking one is, the higher their chances of living a higher quality life. This is because physical appearance is considered in many aspects of their life, including their career. The decision to hire is more often than not affected by the applicant’s looks. In order to give them the best opportunities as an adult, parents often gift their children cosmetic surgery procedures as a high school graduation gift. South Korea is also known as the capital of plastic surgery for this reason. 

Regardless of country, it does seem like every culture places somewhat of an importance on physical appearance. How do we then learn to love and accept ourselves for who we are? Sounds simple, but promoting body confidence and positivity starts with you. While we cannot change how the world perceives beauty and how the world perceives us, we will be able to find peace by learning how to love and accept ourselves. You can adopt and maintain a healthy body image just by being grateful for all that your body is, instead of what it isn’t. 

For example, instead of thinking, “Ugh, my ankles are so fat, I have cankles!’” change the narrative to “You know what, I am grateful for my ankles because they can bend, and because of that, I can dance, which I love!” Once you start looking for the good, your feelings will change, and you can come to love that which you previously had negative comments for. As is said: where attention goes, energy flows. As you produce more gratitude for those specific areas, you will find more reasons to be grateful, and you will be more in line with the energy of gratitude and love and be more at peace with yourself.

After you’ve spent some time working on you, use your knowledge to educate, encourage and empower others! Help them to love themselves just the way they are too. This can be done by taking a compliment, giving praise, encouraging others to stop comparing themselves and overall emulating love and positivity. It isn’t wrong for you to wear makeup, get your hair done, or even undergo beauty treatments if you think it will make you a better version of yourself, but remember to do these things for YOU, and not for anyone else.