Confidence is a necessary tool to successfully navigate through life. A critical aspect of attaining full confidence is complete self acceptance but unfortunately, because of the continuous and unrelenting perpetuating of unrealistic European standards of beauty, especially those forced upon women, self-acceptance is becoming borderline non-existent. This standard of beauty which excludes all but the anorexic model and the controlled curvaceous women is a reality of girls everywhere and raises havoc on self esteem and as such, confidence.
The impact of this cultural domination can be seen in the shocking number of teenage girls in America who fall victim to eating disorders. It is seen in the profitability of the weight loss industry where we are constantly bombarded with advertisements boasting the incredible results of some diet pill, work-out DVD, exercise machine or food. In parts of America, Asia and the Caribbean even, skin bleaching is a practice by many who from young have internalized the mantra that light is best and on the other side of the spectrum, individuals are tanning to be bronze or more realistically orange beauties.It is quite insightful that the popularity of both these practices persists though it is known that they are extremely hazardous to health. Also, let’s not forget the horrendous cosmetic surgery phenomenon whose clientele now includes children.
This rigid standard of beauty has destructive effects that in most cases statistics on anorexia victims, skin bleachers and weight loss trial and error has the potential to cover up in the most ironic way possible. This destructive effect is that on the confidence of the average young girl whose self concept plummets upon realization that they are quite far outside the pale and skinny or tall and curvaceous realm of perfection. This beauty standard is most unforgiving to the young black girl who hates their ‘too dark’ skin or kinky hair or bountiful curves as well as the chubby girl who instead of enjoying life is overly aware of what they consume and how they look and who constantly chastises themselves for not losing weight though there are countless ‘easy’ ways. It torments the short girl who is constantly being told by the media that endless legs should be the norm and the freckled beauty who hides her face under mountains of make-up because it doesn’t look quite as clear as the cover girl models.
It is a sad time we live in where the variety of faces and features – each beautiful in their own way are tossed under the metaphorical rug in preference of the vain pursuit of an unattainable goal. This goal is perfection which is, by namesake unforgiving of flaws- a feature which is ironically characteristic of every human being. We are slaves to this and liberation does not seem to be soon coming.
But it is coming, however slowly. Daily, individuals through blog posts just like this one, magazine articles and subtle or outright protests are shunning this ridiculous notion of beauty for a realistic and as such more beautiful one.The big chop revolution where black women are chopping off their relaxed tresses and embracing their natural curls is an example of this liberation. As is the introduction of fabulous plus sized, ethnic and averaged height models on international runways. However, unfortunately, for every example of this liberation there are 10 others showing how this rigid standard of beauty remains the norm.
Regardless, we as women should not passively accept this and be an active participant in our own self destruction by struggling to conform to this ‘norm’. It’s okay to be who you are regardless of looks or personality ‘type’. That is the only way to achieve true self confidence- not only when we lose a certain amount of weight, style our hair a particular way, get a compliment or modify ourselves to fit in with the masses. My advice? Accept yourself-good and ‘bad’ and revel in the confidence that ensues. 🙂


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