A Glimpse Into the World of Beauty Standards

Since ancient Egypt, beauty standards have been a constantly changing set of characteristics for what a person should aspire to mirror, depending on the era and place. People face the increasing pressure of these beauty standards daily, especially women. The media and clothing companies have had a significant hand in this, exploiting and objectifying women to create the notion that women with such and such features are superior and more attractive. Because of this propaganda, a growing population of young girls and women feel the need to change how they look through deadly plastic surgery procedures and extreme working out and dieting (which can lead to eating disorders). This revelation is alarming, as it shows how deeply ingrained the idea of there being only one definition of beauty is in the female population.

An often forgotten side to beauty standards is its effect on men. Depending on the country, beauty standards for men differ significantly but are definitely present. In countries like India, the media has popularized the notion of a hyper-masculine man, while in countries like South Korea, the media has portrayed the ideal man as a soft masculine man. Like the female population, the male population often does not have equal access to plus-size clothing as opposed to “regular” clothing, and more and more men feel the need to undergo plastic surgery procedures (such as double eyelid surgery), use steroids, and workout and diet tirelessly.

In the United States, in particular, beauty standards have taken a turn for the worse. Inspired by Barbie and the Kardashians, American female beauty standards have popularized the “slim-thick” body type, unattainable without the deadly Brazilian butt lift procedure. What makes it worse is that in the words of Salem Tovar, “the BBL trend is grabbing a black woman’s body and a Latinx woman’s body, picking it apart, repackaging it, and then selling it to millions of people”. As for male beauty standards, the ideal American man is to have golden-brown skin, contrasting to the preference of light skin in countries like India, where colorism is deeply rooted. Moreover, he is to be hyper-masculine, unattainable without extreme dieting and fitness regimes. Overall, the current American beauty standards cannot be reached without compromising your health and seem to result from the throwing around ethnic features, which is an issue that must be addressed.

The impact of beauty standards has been downplayed for quite some time, even though they have affected people of all ages and genders. A TikTok user will see enough videos of sixteen-seventeen-year-old girls who plan to get a Brazilian butt lift procedure, even though it often results in extreme pain. These young women are not even fully developed, but “glow-up” culture, which focuses on changing certain things about themselves to achieve specific beauty standards, has influenced them to make these permanent changes to their bodies. We see young girls suffering from eating disorders and struggling to escape, not knowing how to recover. At the same time, many young men feel the need to be “shredded” and undergo extreme workout schedules and diets, which can evolve into eating disorders. It’s time to venture deeper into the world of beauty standards instead of just reading a tourist guide for it.

Hopefully, previous Beyond Beauty articles, this article, and upcoming articles can help with that. Thank you for reading, and stay safe!

Works Cited

Gallivan, Heather R. “Teens, Social Media, and Body Image.” Park Nicollet Melrose Center, 2014.