Five-foot-one, 26-and-a-half-inch waist, 120 lbs, size four: these are my measurements, which can be considered ideal in terms of waist and size. But when I go to buy jeans and put on a size four, I still wish I could be a size two. Even though I am the most confident I’ve ever been, I sometimes still fall into the pressures of societal beauty standards and feel bad about myself.
But, why am I like this?
The criteria for the perfect body are constantly changing. Today, thigh gaps, large breasts, impossibly tiny waists, and Kardashian-sized butts sport the covers of magazines like Cosmopolitan and Glamour.
The music industry, in particular, objectifies women for their sexually-desired figures, and is one of the biggest culprits in propagating near impossible beauty standards.
Artists such as Nicki Minaj promote a certain body image in reflection of what they deem as desirable. An example of this is in her 2014 track “Anaconda,” which samples Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1992 hit “Baby got Back.”
The message she is promoting influences women to believe that they are required to look a specific way in order to be desired by a man. I have nothing against Minaj, but her body is unrealistic to achieve for many women.
If this is the generation that prides itself on body positivity for all, whether small or large or in between, why are women so critical when it comes to their own appearance?
Kimberly Samaroo, a second-year sociology student, feels the pressure that the media puts on women to adhere to their beauty ideals.
“On a scale of one to 10, in terms of how much I love my body, I would put myself at maybe a six,” says Samaroo. “Because I do go back to the media and think, ‘Oh my gosh, I need to do that workout so I can look like Kim Kardashian.’”
According to a self-esteem study done by Dove, the impact self-esteem has on a woman’s ability to realize her full potential affects 85 per cent of women and 79 per cent of girls. The study shows that women and girls often opt out of important life activities—such as trying out for a team or club, or engaging with loved ones—when they are not confident about the way they look.
“Every time you want to do something, you feel like you can’t because there is this pressure to keep your image to the standards of the media,” says Samaroo.
When I was in high school, I dreaded gym class because I hated changing in front of everyone. I constantly compared myself to girls who I thought were in better shape than I was. It got to the point where I was so insecure that I started to change in the stalls so no one would see how I looked underneath my clothes. I would tell myself that because my stomach wasn’t flat, boys wouldn’t like me, and because my thighs stuck together, jeans wouldn’t look good on me. Images of the “perfect girl” with long, straight hair, a radiant smile, and a tiny waist flooded my mind all throughout high school.
Since then, I’ve decided to fight impossible societal standards.
I began to work out and it changed my life because I was doing something that was good for me. I had more energy, and began to appreciate my body because I was now working for it.
I am not perfect, not even close, but I am me and that is good enough.
By: Lauren Davis