A distorted reality is necessary to be free


Have societal constructions of beauty exceeded the point of physical possibility? In a world where we are constantly told we have to strive be better, thinner, and to achieve a certain degree of perfection, a question arises: Is perfection even attainable?

We are bombarded with countless altered images every day. With this amount of “perfection” thrown at us, how can we know what is realistically expected? When ad agencies  use Photoshop to alter our expectations of the human body, how can we possibly measure up?

Altering photos has become increasingly common in the fashion and entertainment industries – to the point where almost all photos are altered in at least some respect. This “fixing” of reality ultimately creates an unrealistic ideal of beauty. Young girls are particularly susceptible to the pressures this impossible standard creates. Surrounded by images of “ideal” figures, they develop feelings of inadequacy that have led to the rising pandemic of eating disorders and depression.

The Photoshop question doesn’t end with whether we should allow Photoshopped pictures in ads. It has become a much deeper issue. Where did we get the idea that we’re supposed to look like the people in magazines? What makes us think that advertising companies and the fashion industry get to define beautiful for us?

Beauty should not be something that a corporation defines in order to sell a product. Beauty should mean being healthy, being comfortable with who you are, and being yourself. No one should have to compare themselves to someone else, or worse, to a fictitious portrayal of perfection. Every individual should have his or her own inherent self-worth, and it shouldn’t stem from how closely they resemble the pictures in magazines. 

Most importantly, I think it’s important to ask why beauty is esteemed so highly. What about intelligence? What about talent? What about kindness and compassion? Are these not qualities that matter? Why has Kate Upton received countless hours of television spotlight for appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated, while we rarely hear as much about the people who are making the world a better place through altruistic actions and kind gestures?

We shouldn’t look to the media to determine how we’re supposed to look. It’s not just that it’s unreasonable to model oneself after a falsified image. It’s that we’ve reached a point where we have to convince ourselves to stop.

Alexandra Mortensen

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