Beauty Standards of Today are Still Demeaning

Clara Gomes

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Beauty and fashion trends seem to change with the snap of a finger. Trends change quickly, every year these trends flood into malls and media outlets everywhere. These changing trends include changes in the models that wear them. In 2018, people are more accepting of the curvy models but we still seem to question what beauty really is. Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder or does our society still seem to have an established set of guidelines for what makes up a noteworthy looking woman or man?

Skinny supermodels have been continuously embraced by media outlets, including current models such as Cara Delevingne, Gigi Hadid, and Bella Hadid. Some people have speculated on the damaging effects that glorifying skinny as beautiful has. On October 7th, 2018, Iskra Lawrence, a co-founder of the NEDA organization, was helping out at the National Eating Disorder Awareness walk at Foley Square (located nearby the Brooklyn Bridge). Thousands of New Yorkers and people from all over, women and men, gathered around the platform she was standing on in order to hear what she had to say about health, eating disorder, and how beauty standards have caused many to suffer from illnesses that have taken our loved ones. The event was held, as it is every year, in order to help people take a step forward in their fight against the harmful nature of beauty ideals in our country and in other countries. 

Many of us are also used to having people constantly remind ourselves that beauty is held within as well, yet we still find ourselves enamored by celebrities like the Kardashians who manage to find it in themselves to complain as so many others are starving and are in need of financial assistance. We see middle class American women and men around us spectating and admiring what idiotic things Kim has to say, studying so closely what Kylie is wearing, and sobbing over what piece of jewelry Kim has apparently dropped into the enormous pool beside her colossal Hollywood mansion as people elsewhere are watching people die, lacking the resources to receive an education, and facing the ongoing fear of terrorism and death every day.

Beauty may feel like a difficult thing to accomplish, everyone has their own opinions of what is essential when determining that somebody deserves such a title. This is becoming an embraced ideal by the media, as plus size models like Ashley Graham, Iskra Lawrence, and Tabria Majors are gaining a lot of positive recognition.

“I think beauty is more than looks,” says junior Maria Cosme, “Someone who has a beautiful personality is even more beautiful than someone who looks beautiful. I think someone who is happy and kind is beautiful.”

Junior, Oli Griffin, also has something interesting to say about what beauty means and is to her. “I think beauty is an impossible thing to define because even the blandest things can be the most beautiful things in specific situations,” Griffin explains. “For example; a white plastic bag is not very beautiful to us, but if you saw a glimmering white plastic bag in a pond full of mud and dead fish, it would be quite beautiful.”

To be frank, myself and other people would probably agree that beauty, despite the efforts of the media to converge our understanding of it, will remain subjective. It is questions like these that cause us to respond by posing multiple in return. Is a woman beautiful if she drops out of school to take care of her children? Is fat something that people want to be called? Does wearing makeup hinder someone’s ability to be who they are?  Why are stretch marks embarrassing? Do our predispositions of beauty growing up still stand in the way of what seems beautiful today and is it because of this that it is difficult to define a beautiful thing? The list goes on.

Our society is shifting into one that values education and graduation. However, we also value a strong woman who can nurture and care for a small one. Questions like whether or not women dropping out to support her child are difficult enough to cause myself to become uncomfortable explaining my reasoning behind what one might think about in response! I believe that the real questions at hand for the world to think about is simple. Do we believe that something is beautiful because somebody else does? Are our understanding of beauty, even our own, blind to what we believe at heart?

Beauty is not simple.

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