Toxic, unattainable beauty standards are the dark side of society.
Around the world, there are accepted beauty standards. In parts of Western culture, a curvy body is sought after, but across the ocean in South Korea, a tiny figure and bright face is preferred. These beauty standards are heavily desired and many people go to extraordinary lengths to achieve them. On social media, there are many who post pictures of the perfect version of themselves; when others see this, they want to look similar, doing anything they can to achieve this societal standard, even if it is dangerous.
Due to the impossible beauty standards imposed around the world, people go to severe lengths to be perfect.
With a variety of beauty standards throughout countries, it is ironic how one feature may be seen as ugly in a region but sought after in another. For example, in Russia, women are expected to not sweat, which is biologically impossible and necessary for human health because sweating is important for filtering toxins and cooling the body. To stop sweating, many women proceed to get botox to block their sweat glands and some even remove it all together. This could lead to problems with the immune system because toxins can not get released from the body.
In Asia, South Korea is home to some of the most extreme beauty standards in the world, causing women to pay the utmost amount to achieve them. Women are expected to have a slim figure, small face, v-shaped jaw, large eyes, pale complexion, straight eyebrows and flawless skin. There are so many beauty standards imposed on women in South Korea that are obtainable through processes such as plastic surgery, causing South Korea to have the highest rate of cosmetic surgery in the world.
South Korea also has a genre of music called K-POP where beauty standards are heavily enforced because K-POP artists are forced by their signed companies to achieve the perfect body. Female idols are expected to be below 50kg, or 100 pounds, no matter their height, which is extremely harmful to female idols who are taller because taller people are naturally heavier.
Companies force their artists to diet and will shame them even if they do have the ideal weight, leading to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, which is shown by many female K-POP artists. South Korea’s impossible beauty standards on women creates extremely toxic culture and breeds unhealthy habits going to extreme lengths such as starving themselves and cosmetic surgery.
Similarly, there are also many beauty standards imposed on men. These beauty standards come from individuals such as movie stars having the perfect athletic type body which has become the norm among men. Many men think that the only way they can be attractive is to look more masculine by having muscles and little body fat while also being tall and handsome, causing men to overwork themselves with things such as exercise.
However, this lifestyle is not healthy because exercising too much will wear out their body and refraining from eating will not give them the energy they need to survive. Some men even turn to anabolic steroids to increase their muscle mass and decrease fat in their bodies, which can lead to health problems in the kidney, liver and brain. The beauty standards around men has also pushed them to have an unhealthy lifestyle to achieve their goals.
Social media also sets impossible beauty standards on society because many people post pictures of themselves that are photoshopped by enhancing their body proportions and removing impurities to look perfect. When people on social media see these pictures, many will wonder, “Why am I not flawless?”
In actuality, it is important to remember that social media is not real life but a staged version of it. Many users are able to take dozens of photos before they select a perfect one to share on the internet. Influencers have a social media team on their hands, who can edit and alter photos to create a more desired visual. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to change one's appearance, it is unrealistic to compare oneself to what they are exposed to online because we are beautiful in our own way, regardless of how much we fit into beauty expectations.
Ultimately, beauty standards are harmful, causing damage to individuals mentally. People are more prone to develop self-hatred, wanting to change themselves even in dangerous ways, using methods such as cosmetic surgeries or starving themselves. Personally, I can also see students on social media posting about how they hate the way they look on the daily. This negative outlook on themselves is caused by impossible beauty standards.
Society as a whole needs to recognize that beauty should not be defined by high standards because being beautiful in the standard’s view does not translate to being perfect in your own view.