What is perfect? Society enforces what kind of body image we should have. We see pictures and definitive ideas of perfect bodies worldwide, on television, in movies, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, etc. Society’s view of the ideal body image for women is based on the average fashion model.
The Perfect Body an Imperfect Mind?
A 36-28-32 body with a height between 5’5″-5’10”. Anything above or below is called too much or too little. The same for an average male fashion model is a height above 6’1″, broad shoulders, gym body. Many people see such images and believe that is the idea of a perfect body.
I used to believe that it was not normal to be insecure about your own body. But eventually, through social media and the exposure that it gave me, I realized that there are so many out there who are like me. Some dislike their freckles; some don’t like their thighs, hair, shape, and body size.
According to a survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation, UK, one in 5 adults feel shame because of body image. Over one-third of the UK’s adult population feel anxious or depressed because of body image matters. One in eight adults has faced suicidal thoughts and feelings because of concerns regarding the same. Every second 15-year-old girl thinks that she is too fat, and Anorexia is still the highest cause of mortality in girls.
These statistics triggered something in me. It reminded me of the thoughts that I used to have in high school. There was always this voice in the back of my head, “Run! Jog! You’ll put on weight and look ugly.”
Similarly, there were others, girls who were way too thin and whose breasts didn’t grow much. Such girls were categorized under words with double meanings like ‘Manchester United’ which meant flat chests. I began to worry about what people might think or say, what people might say, what I could or couldn’t wear; waking up and dressing up in front of the mirror before school was a nightmare.
There were other girls, girls who used to go running into the washroom, crying because they were teased about their body shape, freckles, and scars. Nothing was ever enough. ‘Too skinny,’ ‘too fat,’ ‘too dark,’ and the ones who had the ‘right amount of everything’ were termed as attention seekers.
Social Media and Obsession with Perfection
With the increasing obsession with social media, nothing that we see online is real. With beautified and edited photos, the pressures to conform to societal standards are higher than ever before. To add to this, Indian society puts a lot of pressure on women. They stress how a woman should look, dress, how she should act or speak. These stereotypes, combined with social media and how it influences everyone’s life today, increase individuals’ pressure to maintain such beauty standards.
But somewhere deep down, I knew that the confidence is inside me, and how I look did not define me in any way. But realizing and accepting that fact is not that easy when the society is structured to think that way. Beauty ideals and stereotypes exist, and we’re all guilty of trying to live up to them. This paves the way for anxiety and low body confidence. We need to embrace our body the way it is and not seek validation on social media. As long as we love ourselves, it won’t matter how our bodies look like.
About the Author: Anjali is a first-year student at MIC who loves to write, draw and participate in athletics and cultural events and occasionally delves into making covers of Retro Bollywood covers.