Today, 69% of girls and women aged seven to 21 describe themselves as, “not good enough.” The reason why has a lot to do with physical appearance. The same study found that 36% of girls aged seven to 10 say, “People make them think that the most important thing about them is how they look.”
There are a lot of factors that play into why girls and women feel inadequate about their own beauty. The sociocultural etiological model, “Is based on the premise that societal factors send powerful messages to girls and young women that certain physical attributes are unacceptable.”
These social messages can come from the media, family and peers.
Messages In Media:
The media plays a large role in shaping the “ideal” beauty standards for women. More than 75% of women’s magazines include at least one ad or article about how women can change their physical appearance by diet, exercise or cosmetic surgery.
Physical appearance is the main topic in almost all women’s magazines. If you flip through the pages of Glamour, Cosmo, or Vogue you will notice the majority of articles focus on hair, makeup, beauty, and fashion trends. Alternatively, men’s magazines tend to put more emphasis on hobbies, activities and entertainment.
It’s no wonder that 88% of girls aged 11-21 think newspapers and magazines should stop criticizing women’s bodies.
But it goes beyond print. 94% of females on television are thinner than the average woman in the United States. Let that sink in. 94% of the women you see on Television are not representing the average woman.
Messages From Peers:
54% of girls aged seven to 10 said, “stop judging girls and women on what they look like,” was one of their top three priorities for change. Magazines and television aren’t the only ones judging women- we do it too. I, myself, am guilty of the occasional side comment about what a woman is wearing or looks like.
A study designed to work out women’s levels of body dissatisfaction found that women are more likely to feel self-conscious about their bodies when comparing themselves to peers as opposed to images in magazines. The study found that women secretly blame peers and girlfriends for dissatisfaction with their body rather than the stick-thin models in magazines.
The reason? Women are competitive and don’t like being seen in public with a friend or peer they would consider more attractive than themselves, whereas models never leave the pages of glossy magazines.
The Bottom Line:
Every woman, no matter how “traditionally” beautiful she is, has felt self-conscious about her looks at some point in her life. But even if we feel physically less beautiful than the girls in the magazines we shouldn’t let it affect how we live our lives or our overall happiness.
As long as women continue to stress the importance of outer beauty, so will the rest of society. Other women and men will not see our inner or outer beauty if we continue to hate our own reflections.
As women, we need to be more supportive of each other and all the different types of beauty. No skinny or fat shaming, no too tall or too short shaming. There shouldn’t be messages that certain skin colors are preferable to others, or that curly hair is less beautiful than straight hair. There is truly no singular mold for beauty, and it goes far beyond skin deep. Every single person is different, and that’s what makes us all beautiful.