The power of the internet has enabled us to be closer and more connected than ever before. You can stream media from the comfort of your bed, tune in into celebrity lifestyles, and it has even allowed us to experience different cultures from all around the world. With all of the improvements the internet has made on our day to day life, it can be difficult to spot the negative aspects that have also arrived. One of the biggest impacts the internet made was on beauty culture. Consumers are constantly being bombarded with sexy ads and social media influencers, which has perpetuated the limited types of bodies that are seen as desirable. This, in turn, has made many consumers believe that they are ugly and unworthy of attention. If you have been misguided into feeling this way, or are simply ready to help put an end to the toxic side of beauty culture, keep reading.
Ugly Consequences Of Beauty Culture
Humans are social creatures, and consequently are prone to compare themselves to others. Social comparison helps us understand how we fit into society, and what is or is not acceptable behavior. For example, you may notice that the social norm in a gym is to wipe down your cardio machine when you are done with it. Unfortunately, social comparison can be a bad thing if the norm is misrepresented. This is especially important when thinking about the kinds of people that are cast in movies, or chosen to be in advertisements. It’s no secret that you have to have “the look” to become successful in these industries, and the impact this has on consumers is paramount if they believe this small percentage of people accurately reflects the majority of the population. Not having representation in media of what the average person looks like can alter your perception of what you should look like. Check out some of these consequences misrepresentation in media has had on beauty culture.
Permeant Extreme Cosmetic Changes
Being told that you have to look a certain way by popular media channels and brands has led to some extreme developments in cosmetic services. These can include:
Permanent makeup involves placing pigmentation deep below the skin to permanently change the color of your skin, similar to a tattoo. The most common forms of this are getting eyeliner, lip color, and eye shadow tattooed on your face. This process can make your morning routine significantly easier, and even give you an allergen-free alternative to traditional makeup. Although permanent makeup is not inherently bad, you should never feel forced into wearing makeup. Choosing this kind of makeup is a serious commitment, so you should only have it applied if it will truly make you feel more confident and beautiful.
Plastic surgery involves making permeant changes to the shape of the body. It can sometimes be necessary if a patient needs reconstruction surgery after a bad accident, or if it would improve the quality of life. A good example of this would be if a patient needed need rhinoplasty to improve their breathing habits. Plastic surgery can also be strictly cosmetic and only intended to change the aesthetic of your face or body. Many popular celebrities choose to receive cosmetic plastic surgery, which is another reason they do not accurately reflect what the average person looks like. Similar to getting permeant makeup tattooed on your body, choosing to receive cosmetic plastic surgery is not inherently bad. It can boost your confidence, and help make you feel more comfortable with being who you are. But, it is a serious commitment that comes with its fair share of risks and potential complications. If you are considering cosmetic plastic surgery, make sure you take the time to consult with your surgeon about the risks and benefits of the procedure to determine if it is right for you.
Rapid Weight Loss
When done incorrectly, rapid weight loss can lead to serious health complications, as well as death in extreme cases. Many clothing and makeup brands only feature one type of body, which has planted the misconception that only small bodies can be beautiful in today’s society. This, in turn, has forced people to go to extreme lengths to lose weight, like starving themselves or developing eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Thankfully, there are safe and effective ways to lose weight. And unlike starving yourself, which will inevitably lead to weight gain as soon as you start eating again, making a healthy lifestyle change can actually help you keep the weight off. It is also important to remember that everybody is different, so what you see working for other people may not work for you. You should take the time to find what works for your unique body, and enjoy the process of working towards being healthier. If your goal is to lose weight safely, but you aren’t sure how to start, consider talking to a dietitian or personal trainer. These professionals are trained in helping people reach their fitness goals, and they know how to help you through the obstacles you are bound to run into.
Strain On Interpersonal Relationships
Trying to reach the unrealistic standards of beauty set by popular media platforms can negatively impact your interpersonal relationships. It is frustrating when you set a goal you can’t reach, and feeling like you’re not worthy of affection is going to put you in a funk. This, in turn, can lead to lashing out at others, and assuming that everyone thinks as low of you as you see yourself. This can lead to isolation, destructive behavior like binge drinking, and even a complete severance of the relationship such as divorce or a break-up. All of these actions also perpetuate each other, so it is easy to fall into a destructive cycle of depression. Like everything previously mentioned, however, the strain on relationships doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. For example, sometimes it is your partner asking you to obtain unrealistic standards of beauty. When you realize you are perfect just the way you are, flaws and all, don’t be afraid to kick negative people to the curb. Life is too short to entertain people who don’t want an authentic you.
How To Overcome The Toxic Parts Of Beauty Culture
After reading about how getting into beauty culture can be negative and potentially life-threatening, you may be wondering why people even want to get into it at all. Thankfully, it is easier than you may think. Being beautiful and having confidence is all about accepting who you are, and learning how to be comfortable in your own skin. Although you can elect to do the things previously mentioned, like permeant makeup tattooing and plastic surgery, it’s important to know that you don’t have to receive those services if you don’t want them. There are numerous other avenues you can take to work towards being more comfortable with yourself, and just like working out, you will have to find the unique plan that works for you. Check out some of these tips on how you can overcome the toxic side of beauty culture.
Change Your Perception
As previously mentioned, one of the biggest proponents of all the unrealistic beauty standards in popular media. Although you won’t be able to avoid ever seeing a movie or TV ad again, there are some steps you can take in changing your perception of what it means to be beautiful. These can include:
Cleaning Up Your Social Media
Following lots of celebrities or instant models on social media is not a great way to develop realistic expectations on how your life should be. Constantly getting bombarded with their content when you go online can make you feel like you are missing the mark, or not living life to the same degree as everyone else. By unfollowing accounts who make you feel this way, you can gain control over how you experience social sites. After all, you can always visit their page if you still want to see their content from time to time. You can also clean up your own account by choosing to be more authentic with what you post. A lot of users will apply filters to their photos, and warp their bodies to hide imperfections they may feel insecure about. Doing this perpetuates a misguided sense of what is attractive, as well as what the average person really looks like. It can even give you a false image of what you look like, and leave you chasing an image that was never a real reflection of who you are. Practicing online authenticity is a great way to start becoming more in tune with the real you.
Prioritizing Your Mental Health
Cleaning up your social media is a great way to move forward in your journey to becoming comfortable with who you are, but it, unfortunately, can’t erase the images and feelings that are leftover from years of being surrounded by misguided information on what it means to be beautiful. It can be hard to let go of insecurities, but you don’t need to do it alone. Attending group therapy sessions can be a great way to work through what you’re holding in, as well as give you an opportunity to meet people who have experienced similar things. You can even choose to do men or women’s counseling if you would feel more comfortable, and most health insurance providers have payment options that can make counseling more affordable. You can even learn exercises you can do at home that will help you change the way you think about yourself, such as using positive affirmations and how to tune out negative thoughts. If you decide that therapy may not be the best option for you, consider talking to someone you trust about how you feel. Sometimes all you need is for someone to listen to you expressing your feelings.
Receiving Acupuncture Treatments
Acupuncture is a great alternative form of therapy that can help you feel more refreshed. The process involves painlessly placing hair-thin needles into the body at specific pressure points. While most patients choose to receive acupuncture to relieve foot pain, headaches, and sinus pressure, it can also help you release your emotions. Many patients report feeling mental clarity after their visit, so this can be a convenient way to help work through any negative emotions that have built up over the years. Just as with counseling, many insurance providers have payment options for acupuncture that can make the treatment more affordable.
Opt For Non-Invasive Procedures
Receiving services like plastic surgery aren’t for everyone, and that is okay. There are less intense ways you can change your aesthetic without having to go under a knife. These can include:
Improving the quality of your smile is a great way you can drastically change your appearance. You also have a few different options to choose from that will determine the specific service you receive. The most popular option is teeth whitening services. Depending on the condition of your teeth, you will likely only need one treatment to achieve a visibly whiter smile. You can also choose to receive Invisalign, or invisible braces if you want to discreetly straighten your teeth. Invisalign requires less maintenance than traditional braces, and it doesn’t hurt your mouth as much which makes it a popular choice for dental patients who want a perfect smile. You can also have veneers installed, which are a porcelain-like material that sits in front of your teeth that look like your real teeth. If you are not sure which option is best for you, consult with your dentist. They will be able to advise you appropriately based on the condition your mouth is in.
Cosmetic dermatology procedures help improve the aesthetic of your skin. Although it may take a bit more consultation than cosmetic dentistry, the concept is essentially the same. One of the most common procedures patients will receive is getting a chemical mask. The process involves getting an acidic mask placed on your face to remove the top layer of skin. As the new skin grows in, you will notice fewer wrinkles and a brighter complexion. Your dermatologist will be able to advise you on if this treatment is right for you.
Beauty culture has a dangerous, toxic side that can leave you feeling unworthy and empty. Chasing popular beauty trends and trying to look like the people you see on TV will only perpetuate this process, and could cause you to push the people who care about you away. Thankfully, it doesn’t need to be like this. Choosing to see yourself as beautiful is an important process to go through, and there are many different routes you can take to achieve this. From plastic surgery and permeant makeup to practicing positive mental health and creating a healthy lifestyle, the road to accepting yourself is as unique as you make it. And best of all, you have the power to contribute to promoting a healthy culture of realistic beauty expectations.