The new online trend, known as the #DontJudgeChallenge, has started a new battle amongst teens. Although the initial intent of the challenge was to promote self acceptance and love, it has unfortunately backfired. This challenge has become viral for multiple reasons but my problem isn't with the challenge itself. My concern is with our social behavior and how we define beauty, especially the pressures we put upon females of all ages and races that result from our society. Day after day, countless foundations and organizations strive to help young women build their confidence and self-esteem because the female sex has become a target when discussing any topic related to the outer appearance.
Many of the reasons our self-esteem is struck so often and so harshly is due to marketing strategies used by various industries to persuade consumers to spend their money. The cosmetics industry, for example, reminds us of our imperfections within a matter of seconds. Because the model promoting the product appears flawless, we are sucked into believing that an imperfect standard of beauty is actually perfect. We are convinced to consume products we don't need because we are told that there are solutions to our problems. Those supposedly called solutions imply a result of ultimate happiness. What we are not told, however is that these products we are tricked into purchasing are built for temporary solutions. Lying by omission is the same as lying and it is leading us, women, into a trap of a viscous, endless cycle.
Although the media and the corporations profiting off of our flaws are a strong influence in our lives, I cannot let them take all the blame. We are also guilty of allowing such standards become the norm, discriminating against pretty much all of us. The strive for "perfection" is leading to infinite insecurities, paranoia and impulsive buying, therefore we are becoming agents of our own enemies. By feeding into the consumer game, we are encouraging other women, primarily teens, to do the same by example. The unfortunate truth in today's culture is that we are targeted because women are believed to be the largest consumer demographic in the nation. Because of statistics like these, our imperfections are being used against us rather than being used to preach self love and self worth.
A female that accepts the acne on her face or her oily skin or not-so-skinny body does not have a need to consume products and services that cater to those "problems". If she accepts those "flaws" as an asset rather than a barrier from perfection, then she will already be happy with herself and corporations that offer such products or services will not make money off of her. Meanwhile, somewhere in this country stands a young girl that is constantly reminded of her flaws. The acne on her face is unacceptable, the size 14 pants she wears will never be beautiful and the unibrow she was born with is a sign of disgust. The flaw she sees on a daily basis through media will eventually guide her to develop an insecurity about herself. That insecurity will eventually trigger desperation and she will give in to purchasing products and services from companies that only seek her money.
We are all victims of this cycle whether we realize it or not. Our insecurities are not only influencing consumer behavior, it is partially responsible for changing our standards of beauty.
Several generations ago beauty was admired in a woman with curves and a full body. Fast forward to today, and somewhere in our timeline our perception of beauty has changed...drastically. We idealize skinny, tall and ultimately, imaginary body types. The minute these body types appeared in our media, dieting and weight control became a dangerous trend. Girls aspiring to be models went above and beyond the perfect standard by performing health-concerning practices such as anorexia and bingeing. As if the fights against those damaging lifestyles weren't enough, women are recognizing that a certain age range is being noticed above other ages. Now we are combatting the perfect age because not any age can be beautiful. While women going through menopause or witnessing their first wrinkle or gray hair are desperately consuming "age-defying" products, pre-teen and teenage girls are using numerous products to appear several years older.
The desperation for perfection is creating an undeniable pressure on the females growing up in our society. Instead of fifteen-year-olds worrying about their outfits, hair and makeup for school, we are seeing nine-year-olds displaying vain behavior. Soon enough, our kids will become more concerned about their outer appearance than their physical, mental and emotional health.
We, as consumers and active participants in this culture, and the media are impacting how we define beauty and it will affect how the next generations define beauty as well. Because we obtain much more power as consumers than we think, I strongly advise we become informed consumers and fight against the unrealistic concept of beauty society is pressuring us to admire. This cycle has trapped us for generations and it is time to recognize our self worth before society dictates how we are valued.
Challenges like #DontJudgeChallenge have become another form of pressuring young adults, especially females, to strive for an imperfect standard of "perfection." Let's break the cycle and end this madness by practicing confidence and self-love. Only our self-esteem can influence exactly how happy we are so forget the commercials and advertisements being shoved down our throats. Accept yourself, flaws and all, and I guarantee your perception of beauty will change for the better.