Everyday, by way of television, ads, film, magazines, and society, women are bombarded with unrealistic standards of beauty. As a result of indirect messages, women have been conditioned throughout the centuries to believe that beauty is a universal one-size-fits-all model.


Tall, paper-thin, long, straight hair, blue eyes has been the standard of beauty for ages. Any variation is often non-existent or not considered beautiful.

We live in an overly superficial world where a heavy emphasis is placed on physical appearance. Women are constantly trying to live up to the body images represented by celebrities and models because those are the images that dominate the media. The added pressure of men — the people who have created these unrealistic body images (patriarchy anyone?) — has led most women to, at some point, disapprove of their bodies.

Over on YouTube, I watched a shocking video titled “Body Image Statistics.” Among the number of disturbing statistics, I discovered the heartbreaking fact that many girls begin to dislike their bodies at as early an age as 10.

From the video:

  • More than 50% of 10-year-old girls wish they were thinner.
  • 8 million people in the US suffer from an eating disorder, 90% of them are women/girls.
  • 8 out 10 women are not happy with their reflection.
  • Americans spend more than 40 billion dollars a year on diet and beauty products.
  • The current media ideal of thinness is achieved by less than 5% of the female population.

We have a drastic problem when 50% of 10-year-old girls wish that they were thinner. Part of the problem is the limiting visual representations of women in the media. Women in commercials, magazine ads, on television, and in film are typically thin. Only in the last few years have plus-sized models even been considered attractive enough to walk the runways or be featured in ads for jeans.  The plus-sized demographic, however, is not enough to change centuries of perpetuating a single body type as the ideal.

Although I see a slight improvement (and I do mean slight) in the diversification of media images of women, it will take years to undo the conditioning of women regarding the idea of what beauty looks like. As women it is imperative to love ourselves and be happy with our bodies. No one can do that for us.

This, of course, is easier said than done. Being comfortable in your own skin in a society that promotes big boobs, slim waists, and long legs as the norm is difficult. We have all suffered from moments when people in our lives (in addition to the media images) have made us feel as if our bodies are inadequate. But we can choose between believing this norm, or accepting our bodies and the ways in which they are made. Unfortunately, society will always tell women that we are too thin or too fat, or that our breasts are too small or too big, our hair too curly and our thighs too big — and so on.

We don’t have to believe the hype.

Along with accepting our bodies, we have to become serious about our health. It is important to love our bodies the way they are, but also be realistic when asking ourselves if we are living the best healthy life that we possibly can.

It took me years, and I still am working on it, to accept my petite frame. I hated being small. I was always teased, and complete strangers would offensively comment on my weight, and I am from the south where “thick” and curvier women were the ones deemed beautiful. And although I’ve accepted that my metabolism is high, and I will probably never gain more than 10 pounds, I also know that I am not physically in shape just because I’m petite. Therefore, I constantly have to think about the types of food I’m eating, and check that I’m drinking enough water and exercising (which I seriously loathe).

Loving and accepting our bodies for how they are doesn’t mean we get a pass on ignoring the unhealthy aspects of our lives. Totally love your full-figure. But if, deep down, you know that you are 10 pounds overweight and would be healthier if you changed your dietary habits and lost that extra weight — by all means do it. The same concept applies to thin women. Just because you are thin doesn’t mean you are healthy. That is a common misconception. It’s all about balance.

Loving our bodies is at the core. Despite the images we see and the messages that society tells us, we have to feel great just being the way we are. Once we fully love our bodies, we will want to do everything possible to be healthy. I want to see women living long, fulfilled, healthy lives!


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  1. Wow, This is a really serious article. I still can’t believe that society is still not getting it. And some men wonder why some women have low self-esteem, because some mens are so judgemental about how they want their women to be. They are so into what the media telling what a women should look like. But not only men, some women do the same as well. When all comes down to it, I’m not very happy about it. We need to do better.

  2. I think this issue is very problematic and arises from a complex, yet simple to identify, set of social conditioning tropes. Women adopt a male gaze on their own bodies because, in America, they spend tremendous amount of time watching television and movies that focus their perception and condition them to pay more attention than needed on breasts, buttocks, and fetishized features on their face.

    Once women want to free themselves from the fear of how men (and women) might feel or aggressively react when they reject these absurd and perverted notions of beauty, women will truly define themselves for themselves.

  3. I really love this woman’s articles cuz I have followed her all the way to this weird ass site. Keep up the good articles and keep schooling these young women on all the issues they NEED to deal with before they become a statistic. (HTBAP circa 95)

  4. I think body awareness is something everyone deals with, especially women. So many images are portrayed in the image of what looks good and what doesn’t. The irony is these standards change. If we go on a racial level, they change even more. If we evaluate on an economical level, they still change. Let’s just be healthy and happy!

    Good post-

  5. I agree with this article. I’m a “thick girl” who had been increasingly comfortable with my body once I went to college down South. The “thicker the better” was the motto below the Mason Dixon line. But once I left and came back to NYC, I started having those same feelings of insecurity that plagued me throughout my high school years. It got so bad that I got a breast reduction, tummy tuck, and botox shots before 25.

    I really never felt good enough even though no guy ever directly made me feel unworthy or fat. I found myself over-thinking comments my male friends would say about unattractive girls. If they said snarky or slick comments about a girl’s “flabby” arms or big stomach, I would usually internalize those remarks and that was part of combination which led me to the operating room.

    I wish I had the confidence that I have now, without all the surgeries I put myself through. But as I approach 30, I continue to approach beauty from the inside-out

  6. Great post! Thin does not equal healthy.

  7. Has anyone watched “What’s Eating You” on E!/Style Network? It’s fascinating to see how horribly people’s lives can be destroyed by eating disorders. Loss of jobs, family, homelessness..incredbly powerful and depressing.

    • Yes I have seen that show, and honestly I have no feelings one way or the other about people with eating disorders. It’s striking to me to see people who have access to food starve or regurgitate, while people die from hunger everyday around the globe.

  8. “Tall, paper-thin, long straight hair, blue eyes: this has been the standard of beauty for ages.”

    Wrong. Do some basic historical research, or go to an art museum, and you’ll find that the beauty standards have changed substantially over the ages. In the middle ages and Renaissance — when food was scarce and the masses malnourished — a plump to chubby figure was ideal. In 1920s America, short hair rather than long hair was all the rage. In the 1950s, somewhat curvy models were in and in the more recent decades having a toned physique has become important.

    As to so called patriarchy driving a bombardment of images, it is women’s consumptive choices which keep all those magazines and TV shows in business. Cosmo and Elle don’t compete for men’s dollars. If you don’t like the images presented, then stop buying their products. And if there is truly strong demand for other types of images, start your own magazine and get rich catering to this untapped market.

  9. Wow, fantastic blog structure! How long have you been running a blog for? you made blogging glance easy. The whole glance of your web site is wonderful, as neatly as the content!

  10. well i don’t give a crap about celebrities. i already know they are nothing but makeup and plastic surgery. what i envy is women i see on a daily basis. i went to a waterpark and was soo devastated by what i saw. the girls my age (21) had nice shapes,thighs that didn’t rub together,and no backfat. i’m not even that big (5’7 and 150lbs) and i carry my weight in ugly places (face,thighs,back). the ONLY women i saw with a similar thigh slapping together body like mine were women that have kids and i don’t have kids. that’s embarrassing!

    i’ve noticed that most non black women’s thighs don’t rub together too much. even when they have cellulite and chunky thighs they don’t rub together. black women’s thighs STAY together, even when we’re on the skinny side. so imagine how i am in a waterpark, the only black girl in the vicinity, and the only one whose thighs were jiggling and slapping together at the top. so many people were staring at me with stank faces. how do you love your body when this is going on? how do you love your body when everybody else looks decent in shorts and bikinis you look like sloppyville? how do you love your body when your body looks like the one of a woman who has multiple children and you have none? hell there are women with 6 kids who look better. it’s not just celebrities that make people feel like crap.lol

    • @chanela: I live in Arizona and we wear shorts year round. I went to college here. Umm, I’m sorry but most people I see (and most people I see happen to be white) DO have thighs that rub together. I think you are self-conscious about this part of your body and you saw only the people with thin thighs. Don’t feel bad about it, it’s natural.

      You can wear cover ups to not show it or you can choose not to care while at the water park. Maybe these women have thighs that stay separated, but maybe you have prettier feet or smoother skin or healthier hair or a better looking swim suit…..focus on the positive. We can’t all be perfect.

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