Pretty woman looking in mirror

Mainstream standards of beauty are becoming more and more dangerous for women.
Image: Shutterstock

Everywhere you look today there are ads featuring thinner and thinner models.  Many are so thin, it’s amazing they are even alive.  Bones protrude from hips and collarbones jut out at abnormally sharp angles.  These are not images of healthy individuals, but somehow, they are what the fashion industry and advertisers are snapping up.

Advertising feeds us images of what we should be and how we should look.  Women, in particular, are being told, on a daily basis, that how we look is the most important thing over intelligence, work ethic or even health.  Ads tell us about what our values should be and what is considered normal.  Yet, the images are so warped that they create a frightening, unachievable “normal.”

Don’t think any of this is a problem?  We all know it’s fake anyway, right?  Not so fast.  The issue is that it gives women and especially young girls an impossible ideal to live up to.  The fact that it is actually impossible (every single body part has been digitally altered to an unnatural, unhealthy Barbie-like cyborg-ish thing) to achieve anything close to the pictures seems a little unfair.  How are real women and girls supposed to view themselves in comparison?

These trends in beauty standards are increasingly detrimental to women, and even models admit they don’t look like the ads in real life. There are groups of girls who vomit every single day in an effort to stay thin, and models are dying of starvation too.  Anna Carolina Reston, 21, literally starved herself to death and was still modeling up until she died. Supermodel Cindy Crawford once said, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford,” of the way in which she could hardly identify with doctored images of herself.  How did fashion and beauty industry standards become so dangerous and unhealthy?

Aside from self-harm and eating disorders, one of the largest problems with the objectification of women is that it can lead to violence and sexual assault.  When a woman is thought of as no more than a sum of her various parts, she is less than human.  As such, there’s no need for respect, and she may find herself in a dangerous situation.

Sadly, many women buy into what the fashion and beauty industries tell them to look like.  They talk about wishing they had one model’s legs or another’s lips.  If you put all those together, they’d make one very strange-looking human being. It’s time to see some real women on the pages of Vogue.  The fact is, women are more beautiful with a few “flaws.”  It gives character and makes them more interesting, not less.  It’s boring when everyone looks so perfect.

What are your experiences with mainstream beauty standards and the pressure to look unnaturally thin?