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Beauty is a Dangerous Construct

Article by Monica Poucheva-Murray
I’m sure many of you reading this article have come to this piece expecting me to tell you all of the new ways to wear your make-up, or your hair, or which new workout is celebrity approved…
But honestly, all of that is nonsense and a waste of time.
        If you are in a place where you are tearing yourself down every time you eat a meal, every time you go out and your makeup isn’t ‘perfect’, every time you aren’t fitting into the unachievable mould of Instagram and magazine covers, then your beauty will never be fulfilling.
          Organisation Beat, who aims to help those struggling with bad body image, dysmorphia and eating disorders have established that approximately 1.25 million people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder. Despite the widespread perception that men don’t suffer from eating disorders, around 11% of these 1.25 million people are male. This notion that we should hate our bodies is an idea constructed and pushed by companies who make money from our struggles.
         Think about it; how do many adverts begin?
They will either show you a dangerously slim, photoshopped, airbrushed men or women or the opposite, natural looking people, who don’t fit the ‘society’s ideal’ who need to be remodelled. Once
they have the image of beauty carefully crafted, they focus your attention onto what part of you that you should change in order to either look like the first image or NOT look like the second.
And once you start hating yourself and your self-confidence is fully eroded, and the embarrassment had firmly settled into your thoughts, they pounce on you and offer you the ‘one and only, truly
magical’ product that promises to FIX you. Ranging from cellulite or fat busting creams, pills (that will make you crap yourself) to vibrating belts, they sell you bullshit for ONLY £59.99 or for the highest amount they can get out of your desperation.
        Many people have proven time and time again that these products do not work and if they do, that the effects will not last. Do you want to know why?
Because your body has a natural shape, texture and colour that will not change. Think about anything else that nature created, perhaps a tree. Trees DO NOT look the same! I
guarantee you that it is very uncommon for you to walk into a park and be able to find two trees that even look very similar. Yet, they are so fascinating in their variety. And indeed, if they all looked the same, people would not see them as uniquely beautiful and are likely to get bored. Let’s look at another example that may be closer to us. Think about dogs. No two dogs, even from
the same breed are the same size, shape or pattern, yet we love them all and find them adorable. So why does this not apply to us?

Photo: by Alysa Bajenaru on Unsplash

         And yes, we are not perfect. And yes, we have different characteristics. For example, many of us have cellulite – a word uttered with disgust by many people, mostly women. But, think about it – this word, and this ‘flaw’ didn’t even exist before Vogue put it in their headline in 1968. Before that it was just called skin (shocking I know).
        Over the past 50 years we have been conditioned to hate a part of our body which is meant to be there and that isn’t going anywhere. A perfect marketing tactic, which is filling the pockets of many companies. Before Vogue’s usage of the word cellulite, it meant something completely different and was mainly used as a medical term. The way we have been manipulated to hate something, which was once deemed beautiful, and to see it as shameful is so dangerous. Indeed, our world changes its values system and perception of what is deemed beautiful roughly every 10 years. Back in the 17th century, cellulite and having fat on your body was accepted as the ideal and the most beautiful as it showed health, status and money. Even in the middle of the 20th century  the likes of Marilyn Monroe, who was accepted as an international sex symbol, were carrying belly fat and cellulite with pride. As years have gone, the perception of the ‘perfect’ body and shape has evolved, making it nigh impossible to fit into the beauty box. Even a couple of decades ago the body seen as the ideal is one that has now been shunned – I mean who would want hips anyway? If you looked properly at the paintings and sculptures of some of the most beautiful people in history, for example the goddess of love, Aphrodite, they all have indentations, pigmentations and curves on their body, and are as beautiful as other natural things like mountains or waterfalls. What I’m trying to make clear here is that beauty is a construct that has earned the industry billions of pounds and we are being manipulated, left right and centre, to part with our cash and our mental health, for a body which won’t ever be quite right.
        If you are someone who counts calories or punishes themselves for eating by excessively training, or by resorting to more dangerous actions and behaviours, I suggest you re-read this article a few times and maybe seek some guidance from a someone who truly cares about you – a friend, family or from one of the wonderful organisations out there – such as Beat who are helping people feel happy in their own skin.
         One important fact I’d like to share with you is that Instagram is a massive cause of people’s insecurity in their body and their skin. Tip: if you want to feel better and to learn to love your-self,
you need to start by purging your feed of the ‘perfect looking’ people who have unrealistic body shape expectations for you (and who most often are helped by Photoshop to achieve their
immaculate images). Follow inspirational people. People who focus on more than their appearance (perhaps on life goals), perhaps some, who have a similar body shape to you and indeed who are
body positive.
         If you are part of the group of people above, simply want to know more, or are already part of the body positivity community then here are some books and people that I strongly recommend you check out:
Megan Crabbe- Body Positive Power £8.17 (price varies online)
Michelle Elman – Am I Ugly? £10.23 (this is the sale price right now on Amazon)
Melanie Murphy- Fully Functioning Human Almost £7.99 (but can find cheaper online)
Mary Jelkovsky- The Body- Image Blueprint £11.77 (or free subscription)
KhrystyAna – America’s Top Model Finalist
Ingrid Medeiros – Model on Instagram
Diana Sirokai – Model on Instagram
Article by Monica Poucheva-Murray, first year English Literature and Language student.

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