Why The Body Positive Movement Has Done Nothing To Change Societal Beauty Standards

Why The Body Positive Movement Has Done Nothing To Change Societal Beauty Standards

The Body Positivity Movement is great in theory, but is meaningless and effective when not approached correctly.

Ironically, in the age of the Body Positive Movement, it seems like people couldn’t be less happy with their looks. Plastic surgery rates are increasing, (they are up 3% since 2013, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons) while the success of mobile apps such as Facetune and Airbrush, which are used to augment personal photos (such features include face and body reshaping tools, eye-color change tools, and “smoothing” tools, which are used to perfect complexions), suggests that people aren’t as accepting of their flaws as they would like to be.

I’ll be the first one to say I can relate. Just because we’re told that we’re beautiful no matter what does not mean that we’ll believe it. In this day and age, we are taught to love our bodies—curves, dimples, wrinkles and all. We are taught that our hair does not need to be manageable (or that we don’t need hair at all), that our skin does not have to be as smooth as a baby’s bottom or a specific tone. We are taught to consider every one of our physical characteristics as unique and beautiful. But how can we assimilate this belief if society constantly negates it?

Yes, it is okay to be fat, but we also don’t want any fat girls on our runways (plus-sized models aren’t even considered regular models. They have their own league just for bigger girls. Aren’t all of our characteristics supposed to be equally beautiful?). Yes, it is okay to have acne, but we also won’t place any man or woman’s face on our magazines and billboards without their skin being perfectly retouched. Yes, it is okay to have darker skin, but we also continue to promote and market skin lightening products.

An ad for “Snowz Seoul Secret,” a skin lightening cream

Our insecurities are fueled by societal beauty standards, while our insecurities force us to submit to these standards, ensuring that the system stays in place. We want to believe that not being conventionally beautiful is okay, all the while still striving to be just that. We spend money on procedures and apps to change our appearance, and support and admire those that are conventionally attractive.

How many "ugly" women are famous singers and actresses? Very few.

Take Kylie Jenner for instance, who is only famous because of her physical appearance (which isn’t even natural, by the way). She has had surgical work done and uses body enhancement tools (waist trainers, “flat tummy” tea) to appear more attractive. She has millions of followers just for being conventionally pretty, while "ugly" men and women are never openly celebrated. If we truly believe in our body positivity principles, why don’t we apply them in the real world?

The epitome of conventional beauty

There are thousands — no, millions — of other young women who are more talented than Kylie Jenner, but will never have the opportunity to amass the amount of social media fame as her, simply due to their appearance. Compare Kylie Jenner to Tayja Jones, a teen from Philadelphia who was bullied online after posting pictures from her junior prom.

Online users spewed verbose amounts of hate towards Tayja based on her weight

According to our body positivity principles, shouldn’t both ladies be equally beautiful? What makes Kylie Jenner better than Tayja Jones? What makes Kylie more interesting and more deserving of respect and admiration? (The answer is nothing, because I’ve watched her reality show and the girl is as dull as dishwater).

We push the narrative that defying beauty standards is great and makes us even more attractive, but continue to influence the oppression and negativity fueled from said standards by submitting to them. If we want to be accepted for our flaws, maybe we should, I don’t know, actually accept people for their flaws? And I don’t mean half-ass it, I mean ACTUALLY do it.

I want "ugly" people to be on T.V. and in movies, to be plastered on every magazine cover.

I want "ugly" people to be the face of beauty, because they are beautiful.

We are taught to see certain characteristics as unattractive, simply because we are told that they are. When did we learn to see body fat as unattractive? (It was actually highly desirable at one point in history.) When the modeling industry became big and the only people who were allowed in were either stick thin or extremely fit. We have to demand to see more "unattractive" people in the limelight, to show that there isn't just one type of beauty. We have to support "unattractive" people just as much as we support those that are attractive.

We tear down beauty standards by refusing to lift them up. If we truly want total body acceptance, we have to change ourselves and our thought processes. We have to stop isolating and lessening the worth of unconventionally beautiful people. We have to stop trying to fit into these standards.

The next time you look in the mirror and you see a flaw, embrace it. Don’t try to hide it or cover it up; don’t let it hurt your self-esteem. By doing so, you’re allowing them to win. Society doesn’t get to tell us who and what is beautiful—we do. Each and every one of us has the right to feel pretty or handsome, regardless of what society has to say about it, and we have to protect and uphold this right.

The next time you see someone and you judge them based on their looks, love all of their flaws. View their terrible skin, cellulite, and love handles as if you were looking at gold. Stop believing that certain features make people less than they actually are. After all, our perceptions of beauty aren’t even our own. They’ve been determined by the powers that be. When we stop feeding into these perceptions, we have the chance to look past the guise of conventional beauty and see people for who they are. We get to appreciate them on the deepest and most personal level. As cliche as it sounds, it is what’s on the inside that matters. Maybe if more of us took the time to look past the guise of conventional beauty, we’d see that some of the most attractive people are actually the ugliest.

My hope for the future is that every person will wake up every morning and feel beautiful, because we should. Our bodies, all uniquely made, are living and breathing right here on this Earth, at this very second. There is nothing more beautiful than that.

Cover Image Credit: Jeremy Bishop

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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In Real Life, 'Plus Size' Means A Size 16 And Up, Not Just Women Who Are Size 8's With Big Breasts

The media needs to understand this, and give recognition to actual plus-size women.


Recently, a British reality dating TV show called "Love Island" introduced that a plus-sized model would be in the season five lineup of contestants. This decision was made after the show was called out for not having enough diversity in its contestants. However, the internet was quick to point out that this "plus-size model" is not an accurate representation of the plus-size community.

@abidickson01 on twitter.com

Anna Vakili, plus-size model and "Love Island "Season 5 Contestant Yahoo UK News

It is so frustrating that the media picks and chooses women that are the "ideal" version of plus sized. In the fashion world, plus-size starts at size 8. EIGHT. In real life, plus-size women are women who are size 16 and up. Plunkett Research, a marketing research company, estimated in 2018 that 68% of women in America wear a size 16 to 18. This is a vast difference to what we are being told by the media. Just because a woman is curvy and has big breasts, does NOT mean that they are plus size. Marketing teams for television shows, magazines, and other forms of media need to realize that the industry's idea of plus size is not proportionate to reality.

I am all for inclusion, but I also recognize that in order for inclusion to actually happen, it needs to be accurate.

"Love Island" is not the only culprit of being unrealistic in woman's sizes, and I don't fully blame them for this choice. I think this is a perfect example of the unrealistic expectations that our society puts on women. When the media tells the world that expectations are vastly different from reality, it causes women to internalize that message and compare themselves to these unrealistic standards.

By bringing the truth to the public, it allows women to know that they should not compare themselves and feel bad about themselves. Everyone is beautiful. Picking and choosing the "ideal" woman or the "ideal" plus-size woman is completely deceitful. We as a society need to do better.

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