Imperfections and All

Breaking Free from Beauty Standards and Embracing Individuality

In today’s society, the issue of women and body image continues to be a prevalent and often misunderstood topic. From the pressures of unrealistic beauty standards portrayed in media to the rise of social media influencers promoting unattainable ideals, women are bombarded with messages that often negatively impact their self- esteem and body image.

The consequence of these societal pressures on women’s mental health cannot be understated. Research has shown a clear link between negative body image and mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. This can have further consequences like doubting our self-worth and ultimately can prevent us from thriving in some aspects of life. Moreover, constantly striving for an unattainable standard of beauty can take a toll on women’s emotional wellbeing and lead to unhealthy behaviours, sometimes to more serious issues such as eating disorders.

But here’s the thing – who decided what beauty should look like anyway? Why do we let society dictate how we should feel about ourselves based on how closely we resemble an unattainable ideal? It’s time to break free from this toxic cycle of comparison and self-doubt and embrace the beauty of being unique, because how boring would it be if everyone looked the same!?

Let’s start by acknowledging the absurdity of these so- called ‘standards’ of beauty. Who decided that clear skin, a tiny waist, and perfectly symmetrical features are the epitome of attractiveness? Last time we checked, beauty came in all shapes, sizes, and colours.

Not to mention how ridiculous it is to compare oneself to an influencer who spends thousands on procedures such as fillers and Brazilian butt lifts, spends a lot of money on monthly facial/body treatments or has a personal chef and trainer etc. Furthermore, what’s perceived as ‘beautiful’ is completely subjective. Beauty standards differ across the world. Certain features you might not like about yourself may be desirable in certain countries. It’s about time we celebrated the diversity of human bodies instead of trying to force everyone into the same cookie-cutter mold.

It is important to foster a culture of self-love and acceptance. Instead of focusing on changing our bodies to fit societal norms, we should prioritise self-care and self- compassion. This means treating our bodies with kindness and respect, regardless of shapes or sizes. Engaging in activities that nourish our minds, bodies, and souls can help cultivate a positive body image and improve overall wellbeing. After all beauty starts from the inside; healthy body, positive mindset. A person who is truly content and happy in their own skin glows on the outside too.

Another essential factor to mention is that the ever- changing beauty standards only benefit the businesses that profit from people’s insecurities. Although beauty enhancements may boost someone’s confidence, more often they leave the person desiring more changes. So let’s try to prevent falling into the trap by practising appreciating ourselves a little more and deprogramming our minds from the unrealistic standards we have been conditioned to believe in.

The good news is – there are many ways we can try to combat these unrealistic standards, reclaim our sense of self-worth and build our confidence. First and foremost, we need to stop buying into the hype. Let’s unfollow those accounts that make us feel insecure and replace them with ones that celebrate real beauty – imperfections and all. Let’s challenge the notion that our worth is tied to our appearance and instead focus on cultivating qualities like kindness, intelligence, and resilience. It’s important to remember that true beauty comes from within.

Embracing our individuality also means rejecting the idea that we have to conform to society’s expectations in order to be accepted. It’s time to redefine beauty on our own terms! Let’s instead embrace the things that make us individuals like our unique features, as well as the things that make us human like skin texture, stretch marks, and all the ‘imperfections’. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that we’re not in this alone and even the influencers who may appear confident on the outside have insecurities. So let’s lift each other up, remind ourselves that we’re so much more than just our outward appearance and embrace the beauty of being different.

Words by Laila Maarouf & Artwork by Mina Banisaeid