Women all over the world are wasting so much time, effort and energy trying to reach a level of perfection that isn’t realistic. We need to start supporting each other and showcasing our natural beauty instead of tearing each other down and competing to look the best. Social media shouldn’t have a negative impact on our self confidence.
Since high school, I’ve never had any body image issues. I was never the thinnest girl in school, but I wasn’t the heaviest either. I never had acne, my hair was naturally straight and I got my braces off when they were still “cool.” I never felt the need to change anything about myself. For the most part, all of my friends were this way too. Sure, there was the occasional “I feel so fat” remark after consuming a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in under 20 minutes, but that was the extent of it.
Then came the introduction of social media. Suddenly, if you didn’t get at least 50 likes on your selfie on Instagram or Facebook, your confidence levels plummeted. You could suddenly scroll through other girls’ pictures and find out how many people thought someone else looked better than you did based on how many likes they received. Now, there was not only weight to worry about – there were so many other insecurities on display for all to see.
The most underrated movie scene is in Mean Girls, when Cady Heron finally realizes that in “girl world,” there is more than just fat and skinny. Regina, Gretchen, and Karen all stand in front of a mirror in Regina’s room complaining about their “man shoulders,” “huge hips,” and “huge pores.” Meanwhile, Cady can’t think of anything she hates about herself except her bad morning breath. Because she was homeschooled in the movie, Cady never experienced the insecurities other girls had, probably resulting from a high school environment.
Our generation grew up with positive women role models and television shows that supported confidence. We watched Boy Meets World after school, where we all saw Corey fall madly in love with Topanga, who wouldn’t necessarily meet the current standards of “perfection” that most girls today are trying to reach. Topanga had a womanly figure; she had curves in all of the right places and she was by no means heavy, but she wasn’t thin either. We watched Emily Osment, or Lilly on Hannah Montana, fight body-shamers who said she was too heavy to be an actress. We saw women standing up for the way they look and support each other.
Today, it’s more normal to list off things that we hate about ourselves than to say that there’s nothing we would change. Today, it’s considered arrogant or cocky to say there’s nothing we would change. Like in Mean Girls, we’re almost expected to have a list of things we hate about ourselves. What’s even worse is that we don’t support each other as women anymore, but rather we tear each other down to make ourselves feel more confident. We put filters on pictures of ourselves to hide our “imperfections,” in hopes of more people liking them.
Girls today are growing up trying to perfect Kylie Jenner’s full lips or to be as thin as all of the celebrities they see on TV. There are so many “thinspiration” Instagram or Twitter accounts dedicated to posting pictures of thin girls for motivation for those trying to lose weight. There are videos all over the Internet about how to pencil in the perfect eyebrows; Cosmopolitan Magazine has a different article every day on their Snapchat story about a new type of contouring to make your face look flawless; girls are being sent to the hospital for trying Kylie Jenner’s full-lip challenge.
These girls are watching older women get into cat fights instead of supporting each other. Just take the fight between Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus at this year’s Video Music Awards. Instead of applauding each other’s success, they tore each other down publicly and continued the fight on Twitter.
There is so much money, time and effort wasted trying to change our bodies when accepting ourselves for who we are is so much easier. Being able to say that I wouldn’t change anything about my body is so much more simple than trying to be someone else. We need to start teaching young women (and ourselves) that there is no definition of perfection. We all need to aspire to be Cady Heron, whose only bad feature was her morning breath.
We all need to support each other’s beauty instead of pointing out negative qualities to tear each other down. We need to stop liking selfies and start liking ourselves.