FEATURES: Girls Deal With Increased Pressure Of Societal Beauty Standards

(Photo courtesy youtube.com)

(Photo courtesy youtube.com)

By Isabela Roldan – Staff Reporter


Wake up. Brush teeth (5 minutes). Foundation, concealer, powder, blush, eyebrows, eyeshadow, liner, mascara, lipstick  (20 minutes). Find outfit (15 minutes). Brush and tame hair (10 minutes). Last minute final touches (5 minutes).

When Olivia Tramuta, a junior at Jonathan Law, first wakes up in the morning for school, her first thoughts aren’t about preparing mentally for the day ahead of her, but rather preparing physically for it by following these exact steps.

After spending an average of 55 minutes in the morning to choose a suitable outfit and finish her makeup for school, she has no time to in the morning to do basic necessities, such as eating a proper breakfast.

Although certain girls may avoid this meal, or others, intentionally in order to achieve a more slim figure which is admired in today’s society.

“I wouldn’t eat breakfast…Most days, I didn’t eat lunch….And I might have a snack at some point during the day,” said Quita Tinsley, a youth activist writer for The Body is Not an Apology magazine.

For Tramuta, and many other girls, ensuring that they look their best is seen as more of a priority than ensuring that they are well prepared for their day. A girl spending an average of 30 minutes per day getting ready will have devoted 10,950 minutes in a year.

Societal beauty standards have been a long-standing issue among the public, but even more so in today’s day and age due to advanced media and changing beauty standards.

Men and women are body shamed constantly by peers and expected to meet certain standards regarding what they should wear and what they should look like (weight, makeup choices, and body/facial features).

“The media and society often tell us what we should perceive as perfection, which we then perpetuate in the notions and ideals we carry,” said Georgina Jones of Bustle Magazine.

Major diseases which affect masses of people have even arose from these ideals. Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge-Eating Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder are just some of those various diseases.

People affected by Body Dysmorphic Disorder tend to obsess over the appearance of their hair, nose, hands, feet, and skin. For men affected, they tend to worry over the appearance of their body size and muscular build.

Although this disorder is psychological, many affected by BDD perceive themselves as having something physically wrong with them and thus avoid seeking out psychiatric help, and rather turn to cosmetic surgical solutions.

Eva Fisher, a student at Colorado State University, was one of the many affected at an early age by Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

When Fisher turned 16, she became increasingly focused on her appearance and began comparing herself to peers at school along with models in magazines. This sparked her lasting insecurities.

“My eyes were too small and close together, my nose too large, my forehead too short, and my chin too long…I identified my body as ‘pear-shaped’ according to the fashion magazines I read.”

After turning 18, she finally confessed her developing struggle to her mother, telling her of her decisions to never get married or have children due to her concern that her children would share her flawed features.

In response to this discovery, Fisher’s mother decided to support her by offering to pay for her cosmetic surgery. This surgery proved to be completely ineffective, however.

She later discovered, aftering reading a Shape magazine article about BDD, that the symptoms listed matched perfectly with hers. This allowed her to receive further insight and reassurance about her case and potential psychiatric treatment for it.

Fisher’s case shows how deeply set in the struggle can be for those affected and is a clear example of a patient’s thinking.

Since skin appearance is one of the major concerns of BDD patients, some begin to pick at their skin to fix it, but end up making it worse. This method is not recommended by doctors.

New fashion and beauty trends arise daily, making it a bit difficult for people to keep up. Contouring fades and strobing becomes the new fad. Being curvy fades and skinny becomes beautiful.

“Body ideals shifted to center on an idealized slimmer figure, leading to the popularization of various products and methods to reach this goal,” said Kelsey D. Lamkin of the Huffington Post.

In early ancient times, being pale, using perfume instead of showering, being curvy, wearing wigs, and being blonde was in. Nowadays, white, blonde, tall, and skinny have become the certain specifications for being beautiful.

Many girls struggle to manipulate their appearances through chemical processes such as hair dying, hair perming, and UV tanning.

These methods of manipulation seem harmless and are otherwise brushed aside, however, they both do possess strong consequences which can affect users’ health.

Despite the consoling speeches and advertisements that tanning salons preach to their users, the aggregating damage caused by UV radiation can cause premature skin aging (wrinkles, brown spots, etc.), along with skin cancer.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation of America, people who tan for the first time before the age of 35 raise their risk for Melanoma, a highly cancerous mole, by 75 percent.

A recent study by JAMA dermatology has also found that the number of skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.

Tawny Willoughby, a 27-year-old registered nurse in the state of Alabama, is one of these fateful few.

Willoughby spent most of her time as a teenager, laying out in the sun or using UV tanning beds at least four or five times a week. This would be one of her biggest regrets in life.

At the age of 21, she was diagnosed with skin cancer and has since removed six carcinomas, or cancerous tissues.

“I had my first skin cancer diagnosis at 21,” said Willoughby. “Now, at 27, I’ve had basal cell carcinoma 5 times and squamous cell carcinoma once (excluding my face).”

Hair processes tend to be another very popular beauty trend in today’s culture. Many people turn to bleaching their hair to create a lighter look for themselves. Hydrogen peroxide is often combined with chemicals such as ammonia and a toner to change the pigmentation of hair.

Bleaching has many risks such as stripping the hair of moisture, causing hair cuticles to separate and leave the hair broken, burning sensations on the scalp along with redness and itching.

Hair perming is another highly used process, usually used by women with coarse hair. The process consists of applying heat and chemicals to the hair in order to make it straighter or curlier.

Perms which are incorrectly done can cause the hair to lose its normal elasticity, which makes it brittle and more prone to breakage. Scalp damage is another high concern for perms. Redness, itching, burning, and peeling on the scalp can also occur. Ceased hair regrowth, altered texture, and baldness may also occur.

Not only are all of these beauty methods potentially dangers, but also very costly.

Usual perms tend to range from being $30-$150, depending on the individual’s hair type and the salon’s price preference. Hair coloring, however, can range up to as much as $215 for an overall color, also depending on the type of hair, the salon, and the color an individual wants to receive.

The strife for achieving a perfect image to match the one’s of models in magazines and on television, seems to be a never-ending race. This is due to the fact that many advertisements that display gorgeous models, to promote products, are greatly altered using popular tools such as PhotoShop.

It is almost guaranteed that every celebrity has gone through some sort of post-production alteration to their images in order to make them appear more glamorous and fitting with today’s beauty standards.

Actress Kate Winslet is no stranger to this process, as she has appeared on television multiple times, along with many turn ups in magazine advertisements.

After appearing on the cover of GQ’s latest 2003 British magazine cover, Winslet noticed the magazine editors had altered her body through photo manipulation. This tactic of digital slimming is widely used by almost all magazines across the nation in order to make the subjects look more appealing and fit to how society thinks women should look.

However, Winslet claimed that this manipulation was excessive. The model said that she had not wished to be altered to look like that, as they reduced her leg size “by about a third.”

Since image alterations for models on magazine covers is so common and accepted by most people, excluding the models directly affected, no fallout occurred to the editors who slimmed Winslet down.

The media’s submission to these outrageous body “norms” will not end anytime soon. However, if the people in today’s society allow themselves to accept their features and their bodies as a whole, issues such as these wouldn’t arise.

Nevertheless, Tramuta continues her efforts to comply with these societal commands. She continues to expend any amount of money necessary to corporations which seek to solely profit from self-doubts.

(Some information courtesy of teenvogue.com, storify.com, thebodyisnotanapology.com, mic.com, adaa.org, healthresearchfunding.org, aafp.org, semel.ucla.edu, bdd.iocdf.org, hellomagazine.com, allday.com, rehabs.com, docakilah.wordpress.com, bustle.com, cbsnews.com)


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