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POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF BEAUTY STANDARDS

Today social media is all around. There is Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and many others. Using these kinds of social media apps can lead to many effects in people’s lives that they may not even know. Beauty standards can lead to risks. Instead of allowing the beauty of one person to become socially acceptable, people should be aware of the harm they can cause to others. Children as young as 3 years old begin to realize that they are different from others. There are individual differences and people begin to take note of this very early. In this world of so many dynamics and variations, everyone wants to make their mark, earn their mark. Social media is a necessity nowadays because it is the most convenient way to connect to people all around the world, not just close friends and teachers. On social media, people keep posting their pictures and want some “Likes”, so to say. This is social acceptance of what they desire. Seeing other pictures on social media, for that matter, of celebrities also, is one way in which there is a decrease in the self-esteem of the people because the beauty standards are already set and people indulge in social comparison.

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Beauty standards are shown everywhere: in magazines, social media, ads, commercials. While beauty standards are supposed to promote health awareness, motivation, fitness tips, it, unfortunately, results in many bad consequences. Beauty standards are both realistic and unrealistic. There are both positive and negative effects. Beauty standards seem to be unhealthy, and they misinform the public on what true beauty is or should be. While not all beauty image standards promote negative feelings and body dissatisfaction, it is generally seen that the negative effects are more than the positives. There have been many efforts to validate our current beauty standards. There has been evidence that has shown the negative effects of beauty standards, but there is research that has shown positive effects or even no effects of beauty standards.

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Self-attention leads to people comparing their selves to standards, such as physical appearance when we are talking about beauty. We try to conform to a standard, evaluate our behavior against the standard, tend to decide whether or not we match the standard or not and we continue adjusting and comparing until a match is made or the goal is abandoned. This whole process is called “feedback” and the theory is called the cybernetic theory of self-regulation.

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There are 2 constructs: Public Self- Consciousness and Private Self-Consciousness. Public self-consciousness means that we tend to be concerned about how we appear to others. They are concerned with issues of autonomy and identity. They worry about what others think about them, the way they look, and how they appear to others. Now when there are beauty standards like media’s depictions of an ideally beautiful woman, people tend to compare with it and they worry about whether or not they are appealing to others or not. They constantly compare themselves to the beauty standards that the media is offering. This can lead to low self-esteem as discussed earlier and people feel that they are falling short of the standards, they are not able to live up to the images of their peers and their social media group. Secondly, those high on private self-consciousness tend to focus on the internal self. They are more attentive to their inner feelings and indulge less in social comparison.

Certain experiences that if you are on the camera, put us in a state of self-awareness. Self-awareness leads to people comparing and evaluating themselves according to available standards.

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Self-regulation is also influenced by our direction of attention whether or not it is directed inward towards the self or outward towards others. Certain experiences like being evaluated by others, having a picture taken leads to attention focusing inwards. We begin to think of ourselves as objects of others’ attention. This state is called self-awareness.

In general, self-awareness makes people evaluate their behavior against a standard and adjust themselves to meet the standard. The standard can be anything it can be a media image, an ideal person in life, or any mental manifestation that you want to be or your ideal self also.

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Also looking at others and realizing you don’t look like the standards can cause people to think about their body image generally. There is positive and negative body image, both have pros and cons. Girls tend to care how much they weigh, or how they appeal to others especially on social media. Social media is the source of body shaming. People who have negative body image can develop an eating disorder and are more likely to suffer from depression. People become self-conscious, feel uncomfortable and awkward in their bodies. One can feel that she is not pretty or he is not muscular. Social media bullying is another thing. The type of comments people make on others’ appearance is sometimes very cruel and rude. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder as is very rightly said. The obsession with a perfect body has been triggered by media very much. It is also said that inner beauty is more important than physical beauty. But the reality shows, magazines, and other forms of media seem to contradict this. Physical beauty nowadays is much more important than inner beauty. Women who are thin and lean or the so-called ‘zero figure’ ideal is called attractive and those who are not thin are not considered attractive. The cause behind this is the media. Media is a strong influencer behind the self-esteem of women.

Conformity is the tendency to change one’s beliefs or behaviors w.r.t. others. This is great in the case of women. Women tend to conform to what other women are wearing, carrying, doing, and looking. There are two reasons why people conform: Informational Influence and Normative Influence. Informational influence is derived from the desire to be right. Sometimes, people believe that what the media is portraying is right. Normative influence means the desire to be liked. People want to be liked by others.

There are positive effects of beauty standards also. The media shows images that are popular, famous, and trendy. So, people can keep up with the trends that are there in society. There are good beauty standards or ideals also in a way.

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There has been this notion that beauty is subjective since there are individual differences. This opened a wide range of opinions about beauty standards in the US. The thin ideal is the most desirable. Women want to be thin. The thin ideal is called the perfect body shape that women want to attain.

People are also suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder. This means that they are excessively preoccupied with a minor defect in their body. Body dysmorphic disorder is caused by the images that the media transmits. This also results in eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Exposure to thin-ideal or the thin beauty standard can lead to body dissatisfaction, negative self-per perception, and depressed mood. A Unipolar mood disorder characterized by depression is common. Social comparison processes underlie this negative media effect. This elicits negative consequences. This also leads to psychological disorders, as discussed earlier.

To be concluded, media is a very stronger decider as to what and how will women behave when it comes to beauty. Social comparisons are going on constantly. People want to look trendy and want to be up to date with fashion trends. This is essential in a way, right, because it is cool to look trendy. One should not be like the historic times when there was no technology and no advancements. This is the positive effect. But there are several negative effects also. This leads to downward social comparison. This leads to psychological disorders. Their and identity issues also. There is an identity of a person that is formed because of society. This is social identity. Women tend to feel that they have a low social identity because they are not like the actors and models. There are cultural differences in social identity also. There is ethnic identity also.

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All in all, one should know where to draw a line between what media images to be conformed to and what media images not to be followed. One should know this. This is very essential. We don’t have to follow everything that the media is showing and transmitting. We have to be mindful of the media’s influence. It is not that it is bad. As discussed earlier, media influence is positive as well because people can keep up with the trends that are prevalent in society. Media influence can be either positive or negative. It depends. Body image is another important construct. Body image means how people perceive themselves to be in terms of their bodies. As discussed earlier, there are positive and negative body images. Both have their implications. Positive body image is good and negative is bad and both are influenced, again, by media. Media is undoubtedly a big influencer, as discussed earlier.

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