Beautiful. Beauty. To be beautiful. All of these are rather loaded terms. Many of us may think beauty standards developed over recent years due to the modern-day social pressure to live up to them. However, beauty standards have always existed, though they’ve gone through many changes and developments over the centuries. :
“Surviving texts, artifacts, and images from Ancient Egypt showcases the immense amount of time and effort women invested toward the perfection of their bodies.”Watterson, 1991
Still, ultimately, many of us feel the need to live up to beauty ideals in this modern world. But what is beauty? How do you define it? What is a beauty standard?
On September 9th, we celebrate International Beauty Day or Day of Beauty. This holiday reminds us that beauty standards are not the same from culture to culture or from one country to the next. Beauty around the world and the definition of such consistently changes. What someone finds beautiful about one person may be a feature considered unattractive to someone else. Beauty is entirely objective, which is something we often tend to forget.
International Beauty Day reminds us that we are all uniquely beautiful and that we should celebrate this.
What is a beauty standard?
A beauty standard, or a beauty ideal, is a socially constructed notion that physical attractiveness is a person’s most crucial asset -specifically a woman’s. A beauty standard is seen as something everyone should strive to achieve and maintain. The issue with these “beauty is that they usually seek unrealistically high expectations to meet, which can be detrimental for the person trying to reach them. Individuals may put their bodies under a tremendous amount of stress and unhealthy habits to achieve these expectations.
The Impact of Western Beauty Ideals
In 2007, a survey conducted on over 3,300 girls and women across 10 different countries showed some results. Ninety percent of all women ages 15 to 64 responded that they felt the need to change at the very least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight at the top of the list. Beyond this body dissatisfaction, 67 percent of the same group of women reported having withdrawn from life-sustaining and engaging activities due to feeling insecure about their bodies. Some of these activities include exercising and going to the doctor. A study reports,
“Children as young as 6 to 9 years old express body dissatisfaction and concerns about their weight.”.Flannery-Schroeder & Chrisler, 1996; Schur, Sanders & Steiner, 2000; Smolak & Levine, 1994
Nowadays, we find it even harder to keep up with the ideal beauty standards. The rapid development in technology brings more exposure to social media and shows unrealistic expectations of bodies and faces.
Why does International Beauty Day matter?
It’s easy to drift into the world of perfect bodies, relationships, and faces. This is especially true today, with easy access to social media pages such as Instagram and Facebook. We often see people with bodies we wish we had or lives we yearn to live. We often forget that a lot of these social media posts aren’t realistic.
As such, it’s important to remember that businesses and corporations set many of these “perfect” measures to promote products that claim to help you achieve these near-impossible standards. A lot of the time, the beauty industry defines beauty to profit off people who feel insecure about their appearance and bodies.
Each of us is unique and beautiful, in both subjective and objective terms. International Beauty Day matters because it’s not often we celebrate beauty in diversity and stepping outside our social norms.
There are all kinds of beauty around the world.