Throughout time, what society deemed to be “perfection” has constantly fluctuated. Women were either too thin or too fat, breasts not big enough or stomach not flat enough. The truth is perfection is relative: existing or possessing a specified characteristic only in comparison to something else is not absolute. The human body goes through changes at several periods of a young person’s life and, to have a set notion that one’s body can be “perfect,” is outrageous.
A common theme that appears when speaking about body image is the impact of social media. Social media evolved into something more than just posting online and, instead, turned into a vehicle for platform-building and trendsetting.
Popular social media-based fashion sites such as Fashion Nova have set an ideal body type that best represents their clothes. This site mostly features curvier women with thin waists.
Although aesthetically pleasing, it is a very unrealistic image for the average woman. Sophomore pyschology major Legend Hicks, said “I feel like, over the years, the ideal ‘perfect body’ has definitely changed. It was once wanting to be stick skinny and now, it’s all about the ‘slim thick’ look and social media plays a major role in why we think that.”
According to Hamilton.edu, “[Advertising] draws on people’s insecurities to convince them to buy a product,” implying that if you buy these clothes, that you too can look like these models.
Many women tell stories of their experiences with finding the confidence to accept their bodies, and communicate their struggles and insecurities. Growing up, I was always considered too skinny, especially compared to my two sisters who are much curvier. But after opening a dialogue with them, they shared their experiences with their bodies, particularly at a young age.
Because of their shapely figures they had to be more cautious of what they wore and how they wore their clothes in fear of being sexualized. The over-sexualization of young women can also apply pressure for women to hide their bodies instead of embracing them.
Men can also be subjected to the pressures of the “perfect” body. According to The University of Pittsburgh.edu, “Men’s magazines and advertisements often contain images of what the media defines as ‘masculine.’ From an early age, boys are taught to be tough and physical,” describing a “real” man to be “physically strong, aggressive and in control of their work.”
Men live with the pressures of social norms and standards as well as women and, when not considered adequate, can be shamed for it.
The “rules” of what women and men should look like is what leads the public into believing there is a standard of beauty.
The organization Body Positivity has been around for more than 20 years and has really taken shape with the evolution of mass media.
According to TheBodyPositivity.org, the organization was founded in 1996 by Connie Sobczak and Elizabeth Scott because of their shared passion to create a “lively, healing community that offers freedom from suffocating societal messages that keep people in a perpetual struggle with their bodies.”
Social media seems to be the driving force of body image issues, but can also be a helpful tool to celebrate the various bodies of all women and men.
Sophomore biology major Amelia Peter said, “The perfect body means a healthy body. Do not please anyone by changing yourself, just please yourself with the way you want to look.”
The human body is not made to take a certain shape, it is made to change and shift through time. Perfection is relative, it is not absolute. Reconnect with your body so you can begin a balanced relationship with your whole self with love and self-care.
The weekly editorial expresses the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the opinion editor, Qur’an Hansford.