By Judy Zhou
The concern about the appearance of physical image has always been a spotlight for women. From the 1900’s: ‘Who could have the smallest waist?,’ to the 1960’s: ‘who could be the skinniest?,’ to the 2010’s: ‘Who could have the roundest backside?,’ the ideal body image has always been pushed to the breaking point. Women contort and deform the shape of their natural bodies to follow the example of ‘what’s hot,’ taking part in many procedures that result in physical limitations and disorders. Women risk their own health and wellbeing to work towards a picture of a body on a magazine that has been severely photoshopped and edited.
When are women going to realize the havoc that they’ve wrecked upon their bodies? As their bodies struggle towards the unattainable goal they feel forced to replicate, their health slowly deteriorates. Women have been putting less emphasis on the realistic goal of becoming healthy, and more on looking like photoshopped models seen on TV and magazines. Throughout the years, the beauty standards have explored the extremes of everything but being healthy.
Today, the unrealistic body image campaign has been met by the self love movement, and the harsh pressure on having the perfect body has started to alleviate. It has substantially decreased the social norm of looking like a ‘stick,’ and instead, is teaching the upcoming generation that women (and men, although that side of the movement is substantially smaller) come in all different sizes.
Yet, everyone’s missing a point. While teaching acceptance and self-love is crucial, the health of the person is more important. As this self-love movement gains traction, obesity rates, especially in America, will continue to rise; America has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimate that 69 percent of the adult population in the United States are either overweight or obese. And yet, these women and men are being taught that being overweight is acceptable and that they should embrace it. After all, isn’t it their body? With these thoughts, they will continue to ruin their health by binging on foods high in sugar and sodium, continuing their unhealthy dietary habits. These habits are just as destructive as the procedures and diseases women undergo to have the “perfect body” and develop due to the influence of unrealistic body images.
In addition to promoting a campaign for self-love, we should also push for a campaign encouraging healthy living habits that push people to work towards getting in those 10,000 steps each day. To work towards working out five days a week. To eat right. To get at least eight hours of sleep every night. To feel energized every day. To get away from the obsession of how your body looks, and to focus on how your body feels.
There has never been a period of time where the beauty standards in this society have been practical. Never has there ever been a steady and strong emphasis on the importance of exercise and a clean diet. When will the beauty standard finally fall into the category of ‘fit,’ as it seems that it has already exhausted the categories and subcategories of ‘skinny’ and ‘curvy?’ When will society accept that any body shape that is in good health is beautiful, and not to look down on the majority of women who can’t meet the unrealistic status quo?
The world cannot overlook its health anymore.