Unfortunately, we live in a culture where there is a formulated idea of what beauty is supposed to be. Particularly in the western world, perfect skin, perfect hair, a thigh gap, and a size 26 inch waist are just a few things “necessary” to be beautiful. Of course, this so-called perfection is not something every individual was born with, so women and men alike can spend much of their lives with a predominant focus on their body image and wishing for the “ideal.” The increased number of plastic surgery and Botox injections over recent years is a true reflection of how much people feel they are expected to look “beautiful,” and are changing their bodies in all kinds of ways in order to achieve it.
Double standards are of particular prominence when it comes to beauty in this century. You are either too fat or too skinny. You are either wearing too much makeup or not enough. But it is important to remember that what others think is actually quite irrelevant.
For me personally, I have always been very aware of my weight. I can’t recount a time since I was fourteen where I’ve said to myself, “You know what, I don’t care if my weight goes above 115 pounds.” I spent the majority of my teenage years complaining to my poor ex-boyfriend that I’m just “too fat,” or crying over my flawed complexion. At one point my weight even dropped to less than 105, which is absolutely shocking to consider looking back on it, especially as I had much greater concerns (like my A Level exams).
I remember reading that infamous quote, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” At the time, I felt as if it were the most important thing anyone in the history of the world had ever said. All I could picture was Kate Moss, and how her tiny body frame had been what had given her initial success. I even did my fair share of scrolling though “thinspo” websites—which, if you were wondering, basically encourage young girls, such as I was, to just stop eating all together and “everything will turn out wonderfully in the end.” I once or twice, embarrassingly, attempted to make myself sick, copying a “guideline” I found online.
I was never diagnosed with an eating disorder, because thanks to the help of my loving family, I started to make the effort to look after my health PROPERLY. I now eat healthy and regularly, and go to the gym whenever I find the time. Naturally, of course, I allow myself treats here and there; but when I do, I still feel a terrible guilt when my food baby arrives. I am trying my hardest to work on this, and not feel the need to spend seven hours on the treadmill after one bite of a cheeseburger. But living in a world that is saturated with social media, with images of the “perfect abs” plastered all over my Instagram feed and every other magazine, it is a struggle to ever feel comfortable in my own body.
Thinking about it now, I honestly wasted most of my adolescent years getting far too upset because of the so-called idealistic beauty standards that 21st century culture has formed. Find your own style to suit you and your body, and show it off to the world! There is sadly always going to be that one person who says you’re doing it wrong, but ignore them. They are the ones “doing it wrong,” being so hateful towards someone based simply on their appearance.
If you are younger than me, please, please don’t make my mistake—love your body as it is and let no one tell you otherwise.
Amy Turner is an aspiring writer and journalist from Manchester, England. She spends considerable amounts of her time in the midst of an existential crisis, highly concerned she may spend the rest of her life living alone with cats whilst drinking milk from the carton. You can find her on Twitter here, @amyy_turner