I HONESTLY THINK September 2014 - Page 86

I’ve always been aware of the social pressures on women to look their best at all times, but I have noticed it this year more than ever, after I made a short dance-based subversive video on the ideals of beauty for an assignment at University. During my research I was shocked at some of the statistics I encountered about body image, especially how it is affecting young girls as young as 5. I personally have always felt pressured to stay in shape and try to look my best, particularly when magazines have pictures of airbrushed and digitally enhanced celebrities plastered on their front covers.

I have come to the conclusion that women will never be pretty enough or skinny enough for society. The media and society’s idea of perfection cannot ever be achieved. It seems like a bold statement but I believe that as Beyoncé says, pretty really does hurt.

Frankie Boyle tweeted that Rebecca may have an “unfair ­advantage in the swimming by ­possessing a dolphin’s face”. Why is it that everyone is more concerned about her nose than her amazing talent for swimming, which in fact saw her win 2 Olympic Gold for her country. What is wrong with us?

Firstly, who defines this idea of perfect that we all have in our heads? The answer is the media. The media tell us what is beautiful and what is not. The media has been controlling the ideals of beauty for so long we don’t even recognise it. We don’t recognise that airbrushed photos do not reflect reality or in fact what people actually truly look like.

TV and social media also tell us what beauty is. People are constantly judging others based on their looks. Take Rebecca Adlington for example. She was so severely affected by comments about her looks she had a nose job.

TV, magazines and the internet are giving young people a distorted and restricted view of what beauty is and that only beauty on the outside is important, which can lead to eating disorders, body dysmorphia and low self-confidence among other things.

We are constantly bombarded with sources that tell us that looks and beauty are the be-all and end-all of our existence. Disney, for example, from a young age teaches viewers that beautiful princesses will be chosen for marriage even though their characters are really actually pretty bland. After all, the Hunchback of Notre Dame doesn’t get the girl, does he? She chooses his handsome co-star who isn’t half as heroic. Ariel meets her Prince, whilst her voice belongs to someone else, yet he falls in love with her anyway. Clearly he didn’t fall in love with her wit and intellect. Yes, these films are made-up fantasy stories but they are watched by millions of young children and when you think about it, actually do promote the warped beauty ideals we see in the media today.

Rebecca Adlington before (left) and after nose job (right).

Photo: PAUL GROVER; OPTIMUS via The Telegraph

Why do we live in society that is completely obsessed with looks and constantly tells people, especially women, that their only asset is their looks? Why do we not applaud people for their talents? We should be congratulating Rebecca on her Olympic career, not discussing whether she should have a nose job to get the ‘perfect’ nose, whatever that is.