The Body Image Pressures Are Not One-Sided

Today I read an article on Buzzfeed that said three quarters of a million young girls in the UK are unhappy with their appearance. The number that were unhappy overall is different, but much of that was influenced by physical attributes. Scrolling through the news is not usually the most heartwarming experience, but what do general ideas about our modern society like this mean? We’ve all seen the Dove inner beauty commercials, and the sexy Bratz dolls of my childhood are a thing of the past. Body image is a well-versed topic, and yet apparently nothing is changing. Is this really all to blame on the celebrities? I find it hard to believe that the very pop stars young girls are idolizing are in fact the cause of their emotional demise. Sure, go ahead and attack the magazine companies and the airbrushed models, and while we’re at it, get after the makeup companies as well for making such an amazing product that alters appearances. The truth is, these things are never going away and they have a place in our society. Humans will always be drawn to what is ideal and unreachable, and if anything, people in this industry are simply doing their jobs. If we’re going to talk about the makeup, I know many women who find purpose and enlightenment in experimenting with beauty products.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing a woman to “do herself up.” If outrageous makeup is how she expresses herself, so be it. Yes, yes, young girls should not be wearing eyeliner…but to be fair, I haven’t seen my fair share of middle schoolers walking around wearing the newest Urban Decay pallet.

This problem has a deeper core. Most of society is somewhat removed from the glam and online editing studios and daily personal training regimens that make up the Hollywood bunch. We as average members of society, who interact every day, have a responsibility to one another. And I assure you the men play a huge role.

The article I read relayed that 20% of boys were unhappy with appearance–a number that is lower, but still high. This is not a one-sided problem and society takes a big step back from the esteem problems that plague young boys as well as the impact this has on their female counterparts. I can’t even begin on the way I’ve heard groups of guys my age talk about their girl peers, and I can guarantee that was pretty censored since I was around. But while we would like to categorize this as basic douchiness, this trend is way too widespread to be a consequence of personal character. These boys are not douchebags–they are members of a society that tells young men they must portray an ultra-masculine aura (complete with some well-earned biceps) and consequently they can get whatever girl they want (but aim for the tiny ones). So yes, women have intense pressures to be hot. But let’s not downplay the pressures put on males.

As a society, let’s stop playing up the muscles. Let’s stop telling boys they can’t be real men unless they pump iron and claim as many girls as possible. Only then will maybe more of us become more comfortable with the human reality.

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Cover photo found here.

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