Society’s definition of a woman’s “ideal body type” is constantly evolving and is largely influenced by the media and entertainment world. In the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe was the ideal woman, representing a “curvier” build. However, in the 1960s, supermodel Twiggy redefined this image with a slim build and long, slender legs. Fast forward to the 2010s, where the rise of Kim Kardashian again redefined society’s beauty standards, as more women sought after fuller breasts and hips with a cinched-in waist. As the body image standards set by society are constantly changing, young girls and women around the world feel pressured to achieve a body image that is deemed desirable by society, rather than achieving their own ideal body size.
It is important for not only society, but also young women to realize that setting personal and realistic fitness goals is important, and what those goals look like will be unique for each person. Rather than to aim for the body type that society has labeled as the “most ideal”, we believe in working towards a body image that makes each person feel confident, happy, and beautiful.
Furthermore, plastic surgery for cosmetic enhancements such as breast augmentations, rib resections, and liposuction have been at an all-time high in this decade compared to past decades. Non-surgical treatments such as Botox, lip and buttocks fillers, and Sculpture body contouring are also rising in popularity among women. While these procedures have advantages, they also contribute to decreased self-esteem and confidence in one’s natural beauty, as people may look to artificially “fix” their perceived flaws rather than building up a confidence that embraces all aspects of their appearance.
Research shows that many brands that offer one-size only clothing cater towards females who wear sizes 2 or 4, which leaves out 80% of the female population. For example, brands like Brandy Melville that only offer one size further contribute to body dysmorphia by predominating their marketing with only size 0 and 2 models. This decreases the confidence and self-esteem of women who are outside of this size range. However, despite the many systemically compromised beauty standards that are still engrained in modern culture, some progress towards inclusivity has been made. Leading brands like American Eagle have now taken the initiative to showcase models across a range of body sizes and shapes. By expanding the “textbook definition” of beauty and hiring models across a spectrum of skin color and body shape, brands are able to positively influence the self-confidence of their customers and help them feel represented despite society’s narrow beauty standards. In addition with growing importance on diversity campaigns, media imagery is now making more of an effort than ever before on maintaining a realistic perception of the modern world. This has tangibly resulted in resistance from celebrities like Jameela Jamil against gratuitous photoshopping and support towards breaking down inaccurate expectations for young viewers.
While much progress is yet to be made in relieving society of the pressure to conform, measurable strides have been taken in the last few years. As informed viewers and customers, we believe it is important to dispel the negative notion surrounding body dysmorphia. We should also be aware of our own susceptibility to stereotypes and normative culture and instead, actively do our part in redefining the beauty norm to a more inclusive, individualized framework. We recognize that this is easier said than done, as we both are still working on this ourselves. In writing this post, we hope to empower our viewers and ourselves on a journey towards embracing natural beauty and body positivity despite the societal pressures.
In essence, breaking out the beauty box is not a task that lies in the hands of any one marketer, brand, or executive; rather, it is a collective task that every one of us has to actively undertake to make a greater societal change.