Tag Archives: ideals

The Changing Face of Beauty

27 Jan

I recently read that the iconic hourglass figure of Marilyn Monroe is considered ‘fat’ by modern day standards.  At the current day equivalent of a UK size 14, I wondered how one of the world’s most famous pin-ups went from being considered ‘sexy’ to being labelled as over weight?  Clearly, society’s idea of beauty has shifted over time.

Looking at the history of beauty, it’s clear to see how ideals have changed.  There was a time when a plump body was considered beautiful:  in the late nineteenth century, this was thought to be a sign of wealth.  During the 1950’s, Marilyn Monroe and the curvy forms of her contemporaries embodied sexiness.  This is in stark comparison to the modern day where women are constantly dieting to achieve the elusive ‘waif like’ figure.  These different standards show us that there really is no consistency in what is considered attractive – attempts to ‘keep up’ with ever changing, and arguably more and more unattainable standards, are leaving women with low body confidence and self-worth.

So, when the goal posts keep moving on beauty, how can you safeguard yourself against poor body confidence?  Follow these five tips to help free yourself from the pursuit of unrealistic standards:

Remember, there is no real standard of beauty

As history has shown us, ideals of beauty change in the same way that fashions do.  While it’s easy to toss out clothes that are no longer in fashion, we cannot mould and manipulate our bodies at will to conform to the latest beauty trend.  The only consistent ‘beauty standard’ is that women come in all shapes and sizes, each with their own unique features. We only have one body, and it’s time we started accepting what we have.

Beware the beauty standard setters

Think about it, where do the beauty ideals come from?  Those most invested in creating beauty standards have products to sell.  Pick up any magazine and you’ll see adverts of airbrushed celebrities and models selling products to ‘improve’ our skin, hair, body, etc.  These adverts are designed to make us feel discontent with our looks in some way, to motivate us to buy a product that will disguise, camouflage, enlarge, or minimise whatever our ‘flaw’ is.  Remember that believing you should aspire to some standard is exactly the trap advertisers want you to fall into.

Be clear what you love about your body

Ask yourself, “What are five things I love about my body?”  Do this with reference to what you like, not to some idealised standard.  You might like parts of your body for how they look, what they allow you to do, or even because they tell the story of your life e.g. a scar you got while playing as a child.  When you’re clear what you love about your own body, you are less likely to make unfavourable comparisons with unrealistic ideals.

Look at the real women around you

When you look at the women around you, what do you see?  I bet you don’t see many that conform to today’s super skinny ideals!  More likely you’ll see real women of all shapes and sizes.  This is reality, not the photo shopped images that advertisers want us to buy into.

Focus on the beauty within

When you focus heavily on your external appearance, self worth becomes defined by your looks.  This denies the many other qualities, characteristics and achievements that are an integral part of you.

Begin to appreciate the beauty within you: what are your best qualities, what are you most proud of?  If you struggle with this, ask a good friend to help you.  As you begin to appreciate every part of you, so you will see yourself as a whole, beautiful being, with many other facets than just your appearance.

Remember, you are a real woman, beautiful in your own unique way: don’t chase the ever changing and elusive face of beauty!


Barbie: harmless toy or dangerous role model?

15 Nov

A recent episode of Gok Wan’s ‘How to Look Good Naked’ revealed some worrying statistics about how women in the UK feel about their bodies. Apparently 80% of women don’t like their waists, while the same percentage wished their tummies were smaller, 70% are unhappy with their bums, and 65% expressed dissatisfaction with their boobs.  An unrelated study suggests that 95% of women will, at some point in their life, be on a diet.  These findings beg the question: how did women become such body loathers?

As a baby, we are eager to explore our bodies and are blissfully unconscious of them.  At some point, however, we begin to become self-conscious, with some suggesting that this can happen as early as 2 years old.  Early role models, like our parents will play a crucial role in shaping how we feel about ourselves.  Growing up, girls need role models with a positive body image if they are to develop a healthy attitude towards their own body. This got me thinking about one of the most iconic and much-loved toys for girls – Barbie.

It is estimated that 90% of girls aged 3 to 11 have a Barbie, an early role model that is physically unattainable.  At 5 ft 9″, Barbie has a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist and 33″ hips.  ‘Beauty Redefined’   http://www.beautyredefined.net rather brilliantly brought Barbie to life in a scale model (pictured above) that shows how ridiculous her proportions are. If young girls are not guided otherwise, they may believe that this is an achievable and a desirable ideal: is it any wonder that they become dissatisfied with their bodies from such an early age? I’m not saying that Barbie is the cause of all body image issues today, but with one in four teenage girls developing an eating disorder, surely we need to make sure that their early role models are the healthiest?  Besides, latest studies on female body shape suggest that the ‘hour glass’ shape personified by Barbie is on the decline among UK women, with less than 10% of women being an ‘hour glass’.   It seems to me that it’s time that Barbie became a more current and healthy role model.  It’s time she had a decent meal!

What do you think about Barbie and her influence on body image?