The Expectations of Female Beauty Standards
By: Aqilah Humaira Ab Halim
Editor: Alexandra Prudente
So, what is beauty? This question is often answered with ‘beauty is subjective’. But is it really? Now that is the biggest question, especially for women who fall prey to beauty standards that are expected of them whether it’s at work, outside or in their own home. Most women have gone through the phase of continuously feeling like they are not enough and that is the sad truth. A research from Dove on their Dove Self-Esteem Project found 72% of women feeling tremendous pressure to be beautiful. Where should their fingers be pointed at? The people around them? The media? Themselves?
Ann Marie Britton’s study about The Beauty Industry’s Influence on Women in Society published in 2012 states that unreachable beauty expectations has affected women emotionally, socially, mentally and physically. The display of unrealistic images of beauty on advertisements has resulted in anxiety, low self-esteem, low self-confidence and even depression amongst women. These feelings stem from the negative emotions towards their body and appearance. Women are faced with a constant flooding of advertisements every day that compels them to believe what was on display is the definition of impeccable beauty.
What makeup look is deemed professional and what isn’t? What hairstyle is deemed professional and what isn’t? What color of lipstick is deemed professional and what isn’t? The ideal appearance of women at a workplace is considered quite sexist. Despite a situation where a woman’s appearance has nothing to do with her competence or profession, she may still be questioned about what she’s wearing. While women’s appearance, either clothing or makeup can be their expression of themselves, some women feel external pressures – be it from their employers, the media or the society at large.
Everyone wants to be beautiful especially in this current world where a single post on one’s social media could be paying for their meal for the rest of the month. The pressure to conform to societal and media’s standards of beauty leave women feeling dissatisfied with themselves. As Debra Giblin said, the female body is a medium of culture where a woman faces pressures to meet certain ideals of beauty in society. Historically, females have attempted to change themselves to conform to the beauty ideals of that particular era.
Another question that pops up now and then is, “to wear makeup or not to wear makeup?” More often than not, social media has proven that women who are considered beautiful would garner the most likes and followers. However, there will always be comments dissing the dolled-up female by saying how she is only beautiful because of the makeup she wears. The irony is that, she will still be criticized if she doesn’t wear makeup as she might look pale and ‘unappealing’. So, what is it that they want? Why is it so hard to satisfy these people? It seems that people will always be questioning how a woman looks and if she really is pretty under all that makeup.
According to a 2016 article by the Guardian, men are more than likely to point out that they prefer women who don’t wear makeup at all, but the question lingers if they’re referring to women with great skin, perfect features, rosy cheeks, naturally pink lips – you know, the ‘no-makeup’ makeup look often portrayed in magazines or the actual no makeup look where some might have dark circles, pimples, acne scars, fine lines and uneven skin tone?
The never-ending pressure to fit in has caused so much pain to so many women. It’s not just the media that has been portraying unrealistic female beauty standards, the society itself has been pressuring women to alter themselves just so that they could belong. But really, at the end of the day, it is up to each person to really think this through. Why are they letting themselves be subjected to this? Why not do what they want because their body, their looks and appearance are up to them; not the people around them. Stop body-shaming, stop forcing people to adhere to what you believe is the definition of beauty and start accepting. The world is a beautiful place because everyone and everything is unique in its own way, not because it is all the same.