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When you watch something on TV or look at a magazine cover, the people you see might motivate you to change your appearance. Everyone eventually wants to change their hairstyle or upgrade their sense of fashion, but beauty standards upheld by public figures and corporations can also be bad for your mental health. This guide explains everything you need to know about breaking down beauty standards to turn them into sources of empowerment or break their hold over your self-esteem.
What Are Beauty Standards?
Beauty standards are a culture’s way of defining what makes people attractive, but they can also equate to that person’s intrinsic value. Sometimes they celebrate what makes people different and other times, companies use them to take advantage of someone’s low self-esteem to sell products. It depends on a culture’s history and current representation in public mediums like entertainment platforms.
These standards also apply to people of different genders. Although most people think of cisgender women being affected by societal expectations of their appearance, cisgender men also suffer from toxic masculinity defined by beauty standards.
How Are Beauty Standards Toxic?
If someone doesn’t have a popular hairstyle or an acceptable weight, people who have those things often look down on the person who doesn’t. They might make passive-aggressive comments to make themselves feel better while putting the other person down.
The toxicity can also affect people slowly over time. Someone might encourage their friend to try improving their appearance with a jade roller. These rollers can improve circulation and heal skin cells, but they may also open the door to body dysmorphia issues if the user hyper fixates on fixing their appearance to match beauty standards.
The products related to improving your appearance can also physically harm you while you chase down beauty standards. You could try a new exfoliant that uses vitamin C to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, but it could leave superficial burns on your skin if the chemical ingredients are too harsh for your skin’s sensitivity. Many people continue using damaging products if they’re determined to meet beauty standards and feel fulfilled through them.
How Do Global Beauty Standards Differ?
The most notable part about breaking down beauty standards is that there’s no one way to do it. There are so many standards worldwide that you have to dive into them to understand how to take them apart. Sometimes they might not even need deconstruction. Check out what makes them different to find out why.
Pakistan: Colonial Appearance Expectations
Beauty standards created by colonizers have long influenced people in Pakistan. Women also have a pressured focus on getting married because their society prioritizes achieving an advantageous marriage, which means women must look more presentable than those around them. They may strive to have long hair, a thin figure and fair skin even if those things don’t come naturally to their DNA.
Sweden: Environmentally-Friendly Beauty Products
Although Sweden has a reputation for more widely accepting tall and blonde women, recent changes have prioritized using sustainable beauty products to achieve whatever look you desire. People may use oils or eco-friendly cleansers to take care of their skin, rather than chemical-based products that could have side effects for the planet after washing down the drain. Individuals are more like to judge each other based on their sustainable lifestyle rather than what beauty goals they hope to achieve for their appearance.
Chile: Healthy Physical Traits
The Chilean population is currently experiencing a health rights movement that changes their beauty standards. While people may still research the latest fashion trends or beauty tips, they’re more focused on taking care of themselves through healthy diets and exercise. Becoming stronger and feeling better negates heavy makeup routines or physical alterations.
Are There Positive Beauty Standards?
Beauty standards can have positive effects, depending on the expectations and how seriously people take them. If you live in a place like Chile, becoming more active and eating healthier will decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety that often increase when people chase bad beauty standards.
Unhealthy standards that encourage people to change their bodies or hate permanent parts of themselves create neverending internal battles that slice self-esteem apart. There can be a middle ground if you weigh your beauty goals with a healthy value for your inner self.
Start Breaking Down Beauty Standards
Once people begin breaking down beauty standards, societal expectations have less of a hold over their lives. Spending years doing dangerous things to adjust your appearance doesn’t seem important when the same standards don’t seem universal anymore. It’s also easier to value yourself as you are if you turn beauty standards into goals that compliment your look or physicality instead of reasons to hate yourself. Learning about them is an excellent first step to finding more peace and letting go of unhealthy expectations.
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