Did you know that according to DoSomething.org, 91% of women are unhappy with their own body image?
I know it's a shocker of a fact, so I'll just let you re-read that and let it sink in for a few minutes.
Image: Pin-Up Girl by Frank Kovelchek via Flickr
I knew long before I researched the facts that would essentially build the body of this article, that self-image and body confidence were issues on the rise. Of course, when the front covers of our monthly ladies' magazines are filled with women boasting flat stomachs and tiny waists, it's hardly surprising. And yet, I was still left feeling slightly astonished that the percentage of unhappy women stood at over 90%. So where have we gone wrong?
Back in the 1940's, women were ruling the world with our physical appearances. Standing proud and tall as confident beings, effortlessly showcasing hour glass curves and shaking the 'junk in the trunk' like it were running out of fashion. (Little did they know then, it would!) Women across the globe were embracing their God-given gifts of legs, breasts and curvaceous sculptures, and men were floored by their outstanding beauty.
Women peaked here, at the height of full femininity, our global enterprise of female beings gave birth to the classic 'pin-up model' where a slick of black eye-liner and dash of bright red lip was more than enough to enhance an already beautiful face.
We've progressed into a world where cosmetic products can literally change the way we look. From transforming the true colour of our eyes to contouring our faces to slim us down and erase the appearance of a possible double chin. We are sold products through beauty ads that claim to make us look younger, more beautiful, and flawless, and now overpriced products that promise to rewind our faces back to youth are fast filling our pharmacy shelves.
Technology has advanced. We've stopped shooting pictures on our Polaroid cameras where the first photo we snapped had to be our best. Now we take twenty selfies before finding the one with the most attractive angle. We'll edit it them with programs we found for free in the App Store, and we mimic what we see in the media forced down our throats every day from worn celebrities who've endured six-hour-long photo shoots with an added four hours being digitally enhanced in Photoshop.
In the year 2014, we've long lost sight of what was once considered beautiful and sexy. Sure, you can be a dress size 6/8 and look the picture of health and beauty - all women are beautiful in their individual ways. But suddenly it seems when the tag on the back of your dress is any number higher than a 10, you're considered big, a little on the chubby side, plus size.
If your make up is undone, and your hair is tied back, you're not making enough effort. You're a bit worn, you're a down-trodden mum. We are a majority of complaining women, feeling insecure by comments we overhear when we're out in public. Comments our male friends sometimes let slip of during conversation with us, that make us cringe. Statements like "I wouldn't turn her down" or "She's got a nice pair on top" that make us feel like our significance is heavily weighted on the way we look.
But are we really helping ourselves? By conforming to this crazy idea that we must always look so perfect, are we encouraging the rest of the world to disapprove of our natural image? When we're spending hours behind our compact mirrors, powdering our faces with products that clog up our pores and hide the natural tones of our skin, are we teaching ourselves self acceptance? Are we taking calorie counting too far, when we're afraid drinking that half glass of cola will make our waist expand too far out at the sides of our jeans?
The truth is this:
With 58% of college girls feeling pressured to be a certain weight and an ever-rising percentage of women falling victim to eating disorders, something needs to change. When cosmetic how-to tutorials for face contouring and hair techniques are dominating the Youtube channels, we know we've gone too far.
So let's all stop for a moment.
I dare us to wipe off our make up, let our hair out of the curls we've heated earlier today. Strip down to our underwear and stand before the mirror. Don't shy away from what we see. Embrace ourselves, love every part of the reflections staring back at us because we're beautiful just as we naturally are and just sometimes, we've hidden it so well we've forgotten to remind ourselves.