Beauty Standards why do Women try for the Unrealistic

There has always been more pressure on women to look good than men, perhaps due to the almost universally-accepted notion that men are more superficial than women and so are more likely to choose a conventionally attractive woman over a plain one. However, it is not generally men who are putting pressure on women to look a certain way; it is often women themselves who are most critical of themselves whilst also possessing a distorted perception of what constitutes beauty.

Perhaps this is not surprising since we live in a world in which images of ‘beautiful people’ are continually pumped out for human consumption. Anybody can access these images at any time, and it doesn’t take long for such images to seep into the national consciousness. Female Hollywood stars have become skinnier; many must be underweight, yet this is seen as the norm, so that when you see a normal-sized’ celebrity it is easy to think of them as fat, even when they are clearly not.

It is not just actors who have to conform to a certain size, or look; even news-readers and professional people in the public eye are expected to present themselves in a certain way, particularly when they are female. Male newsreaders are hardly likely to face the same scrutiny that female newsreaders do, simply because a woman’s appearance tends to feature in any assessment of her ability to do the job. Women who are not in the public eye perceive these images, and witness that beautiful, slim, attractive women are the ones that succeed, whilst less attractive women rarely even make it on to the screen.

It should come as no surprise that people in the public domain feel pressure to look a certain way because being in front of a camera exposes all of their flaws and little imperfections. However, why do ordinary women put so much pressure on themselves to live up to an ideal which they are unlikely ever to achieve? When women want to change their appearance they often tackle things that they can change, perhaps getting a new haircut, new make-up, and losing weight. Yet, increasingly women are using cosmetic surgery as a way to ‘improve’ their appearance.

Even when women simply make subtle changes in their life, such as losing weight, it is easy to take it to extremes, so that instead of aiming to lose a couple of pounds they come to believe that if they reach size 0, they will be happy. It rarely works like that, though; just because you’re slimmer doesn’t mean that you will be any happier, and it may have the opposite effect if you become ever-more obsessed with reaching a weight you were never meant to be.

It seems that women will never be completely happy with their bodies, regardless of how much weight they lose or how much cosmetic surgery they undergo, largely because of the pressure they put on themselves to conform to an unrealistic ideal propagated by the media. Ultimately, it is women’s responsibility to reject such images and to learn to appreciate their own bodies rather than continually striving for something they can never achieve.