How Beauty Standards Affect Mental Health
Beauty is a diverse phenomenon. It is not solely based on outward appearance. However, some iconic celebrities on social media have become false unreachable beauty idols, obscuring this idea. Thus, unattainable beauty standards alter how people view their bodies. Hence, people experience negative body image.
So when you ask how beauty standards affect mental health? The answer is that experience leads them to the development of numerous psychological disorders, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, low self-esteem, etc.
This article will portray the opposite illustration of social stigma: beauty standards. In our narrative, we explore how beauty standards affect mental health.
A newly married girl asked her husband-“what is beauty?” Can you guess his answer?
“Beauty may be defined as having flawless skin and an attractive body shape, an image that is shown in movies or magazines. We all should achieve it and should try to own it. Otherwise, it will look uglier. And none of us want to have an ugly face.”- he said. No wonder most of us have similar thoughts. Right?
But we are wrong!
Beauty is a diverse phenomenon. Don’t cut its edge by defining it with a narrow criterion. The definition of beauty differs in each person’s mind and throughout human history.
Every human being has a single heart, and double lungs- the same internals. It implies 8 billion people are in the same baseline. None is more beautiful than the other, nor any of them uglier. What seems ugly to one eye can be prettiest to another. Hence Plato said- “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”
While it was a no-no to define beauty, we can provide you with the definition of beauty standards. It means how our society dictates what everyone should consider aesthetically pleasant. They determine beauty in every aspect, from the skin to hair to body shape to height, weight, etc. Hilarious, right?
Therefore, this so-called beauty standard minimizes the psychological and other aspects of beauty. And unproportionally, it emphasizes physical appearance.
Accordingly, beauty standards evolved evolutionally through capitalism and most importantly, through social media. They create an unattainable illustration of beauty. To achieve that, people lose their self-esteem, step ahead to depression, and some try to run scissors over their bodies (plastic surgery).
As the fashion industry is growing up, beauty products are roaring voices, selfies after filtering are roaming in social media- nothing but unrealistic beauty standards are evolving!
Before we dive into the mainstream, we should clarify one more term: Body Image. What is it?
Body image simply means how one thinks about his/her own body, and how he or she feels about it. Whether they are satisfied with their own body or not.
However, if you’re not pleased with this simplest definition, looking for a jargon professor mimicking a description of body image, this link works for you. If not, don’t waste five seconds merely by clicking here. Let’s proceed!
So, body image can be either positive or negative. Positive body image means a person is quite happy and satisfied with his own body. White or black, skinny or fatty- he is not anxious about how he looks.
Negative body image refers to dissatisfaction with the body and being anxious about appearance.
Having this, an individual thinks he/she must change her body shape, contour, and weight to become attractive. In short, he/she feels unhappy about their own body.
Likewise, dissatisfaction arises if a person compares him/herself with an ideal body image or beauty standard and it doesn’t match. In the end, body image distortion will result. It is closely associated with loss of self-esteem and eating disorders.
To cut this long story short, unrealistic beauty standards cause the development of negative body image, which then results in several mental health disorders.
Unattainable, impossible beauty standards have a devastating effect on mental health. They can lead to several psychological disorders, even suicidal attempts. Here, we have listed some common mental health disorders associated with so-called beauty standards.
● Anxiety and depression: Depression is a mood disorder that results in a constant sense of sadness and boredom. Its precise cause is still a mystery. But researchers have identified several causes. A major contributing factor is low self-esteem and excessive self-criticism. Thus, toxic beauty standards damage teenagers’ self-esteem, which leads to depression.
● Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): Body dysmorphia is a mental disorder in which people constantly become worried about their physical appearance. They are preoccupied with an imaginary defect.
BDD patients have a distorted body image. And, as we mentioned earlier, unrealistic western beauty standards are one of the main reasons behind negative body image. BDD patients may also have depression, social phobia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. A high prevalence of suicide is also noted.
● Muscle dysmorphia (MD): It is a subcategory of BDD. These patients especially feel disappointed with their muscularity and leanness rather than their whole body parts, as in BDD. It is more common in males than females.
MD happens because these patients feel that their body muscles are mismatched with the “ideal” body muscles (Hallmark of attractiveness for all males). Sometimes, these patients are even so preoccupied with it that they start taking anabolic steroids for muscle development.
● Eating Disorder (Bulimia Nervosa): It is one of the serious and even fatal psychological disorders in which people have disordered eating patterns. They are reluctant to take food in the hope of having a slim body due to fear of weight gain.
Bulimia has a strong relationship with unrealistic beauty standards and negative body image. Toxic beauty standards cause bulimia, and bulimia itself leads to many other deteriorations of mental health, such as loneliness, anxiety about weight, increased moodiness, irritability, etc.
● Poor self-esteem: Individuals’ overall subjective emotional assessment of their value is referred to as self-esteem. However, research shows negative body image is related to a lower level of self-esteem. Poor self-esteem then results in anxiety, depression, loneliness, and so on.
● Suicidal thoughts: In some vulnerable populations, the extremely negative body image caused by European beauty standards can be very damaging. In severe cases, it may also trigger suicidal ideation.
The list of psychological conditions brought on by exaggerated beauty ideals is not yet complete. The story can go on as follows:
- Feelings of shame or guilt
- Social isolation
- Poor academic performance
- Financial strain
- Negative self-talk
- Preoccupation with weight/body type, etc.
American educator Yasmin Mogahed once said: “Everybody has a master and is a slave. And what he adores the most is his master. You are a slave to what people think if you are someone who is preoccupied with what other people are going to say.”
The lesson of today’s tale was concomitant with this quote. It is to not try to find beauty in someone else’s eye. Not to judge someone’s beauty using an arbitrary standard.
We made an effort to convince you that society has no right to judge whether you’re attractive or not. You now have a better understanding of how beauty standards affect mental health if you’ve read this article all the way through.