They say looks don’t matter and yet, there are more beauty products advertised on media than anything else. With celebrities taking over our phones and televisions with their picture-perfect images, there is a growing sense of insecurity amongst all of us about our looks. This dangerous trend has only grown with globalisation. With European standards of the slim and fair as beautiful taking over our minds, anorexia has become a lived reality for many girls. However, this is not a trend exclusive to women. Even men have fallen prey to this trend where today, through advertisements and movies, an ideal male body type has been circulated as well.
Rachel Rodgers, associate professor at the Department of Applied Psychology of Northeastern University, says that being exposed to Photoshopped images, day in and day out, can have detrimental effects on our self-esteem. She talks about how even girls as young as three years are, now, under pressure to look good and eat less, which shows the unhealthy turn our society has taken. She talks about how photos that are less idealised and without too much editing can give people realistic beauty standards and make them more confident about their looks. A dissatisfied body image, she adds on, can lead to mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
Companies have started to gain this awareness and can be seen to advertise more responsibly, over the years. For example, CVS has pledged that they would specifically mention it in their advertisements if the beautiful images of models used have been edited. Changing trends can also be observed in the choice of models where companies are now more open to using darker skinned models and curvy, plus-sized models. The change has begun but it is going to be long before this sinks in and destabilises the age-old beauty standards.
N Malavika Mohan