Today I want to talk about beauty standards.
Beauty standards are constantly changing throughout history and they are all but subtle: Just think of Botticelli's Venus, then think of that very skinny woman in the 20s, the voluptuous woman in the 50s, and onto today's modern beauty standard which is the "skinny but with generous breasts and a butt".
In every historical moment, beauty standards bring a general feeling of inadequacy because very few people meet the standards demanded by that particular time. This also happens because there are lots of different understandings of being skinny, curvy, and athletic.
And society doesn't appreciate them all indiscriminately.
This feeling of inadequacy can evolve into the need of trying to become 'perfect'. It can lead to a feeling where we feel inferior, establish lack of self-esteem and look for external approval and validation through an exhausting and never-ending search.
What I want us to remember and understand is this: Every body is beautiful, and beauty standards shouldn't exist.
Think about it for a moment.
If we didn't spend our time and energy to reach 'perfection' and compare ourselves to others all the time, couldn't we use that time and energy to dive inwards, become closer to our hearts and understand what we really need? By doing this, we will feel better mentally and physically, because we would have much better awareness and discipline within our mind and bodies. For example, we would rarely “binge eat” or eat out of pure desire to alleviate our emotions. We would also not starve and harm our bodies.
Obesity, anorexia and other eating disorders are a reality. They are a modern plague, the ultimate expression of that feeling of inadequacy I was talking of before, and it needs to be addressed. Yet, even if the body managed to go back to a healthy state, after a period of sufferings, it wouldn't be enough to solve the main problem without the change of mentality. It would make it so easy to revert back to the starting point.
Even for those who are not suffering from an eating disorder, we are all still affected by beauty standards much more than we realize. Every person who has not yet made peace with themselves and every person who has not yet been able to appreciate their qualities or love themselves is fighting an inner battle we are usually not aware of.
In regards to my own personal battle, for a long time, I felt inadequate and not at ease with myself. I hated my body and I hated myself because I wasn't “pretty” or confident as "The Others” are. For a long time I didn't realize that 'The Others' too, those who seem to be the most self-confident, are fighting an inner battle as well, much similar to the one I was experiencing. I realized that much more than my envy, they needed affection and love, just as I did.
One day I said: "Enough". And since then I have been on a transformational path, which has not been linear. It has been more of a “high-hurdles-inside-a-maze-built-on-a-hill” kind of path, and I am still walking through it. This path has led me to know myself better and it has led me to where I am today: A place where it doesn't mean much when I am told that I am “too skinny”. I am stronger and much more confident.
I have learned to love myself.
Willpower played an important role in this whole affair, but the right people and the right advice at the right moment have been fundamental.
It is all about finding the right path and the right tools for each and every one of us- and believe me, it is possible. Not easy--but possible.
Please just remember: Every body is beautiful both inside and out, and beauty standards should not exist.