“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”- Eleanor Roosevelt
Beauty standards and image ideals seem to bombard us from all angles these days. For me, it sometimes can be a battle to uphold my self-confidence and positive self-image in light of this. The constant stream of ads on the television, computer, and my smart phone tell me how I should look, what I should fear, and what I need to buy in order to measure up. Social media came onto the scene in the 90’s and since then it has become a dominant feature of our online lives. It is yet another avenue right at our fingertips where we can compare ourselves to others, ideals, and standards that we were never meant to live up to.
The messaging may be subtle or overt but is ever present in our day to day lives. There is a long history of sex being used to sell almost anything, and our bodies have long been used to market everything from cars to perfume. Our worth is devalued in order to increase demand for material goods, and it can fuel feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. We are also barraged with ads for weight loss programs, diet fads, and that magic pill that will cure our woes so that we finally (finally!) can be happy. It’s the words we hear and read that then continue to add pressure and shame our bodies. “She’s too fat. She’s too thin. She doesn’t have the body type to wear that!” It’s the pictures in the newsstands highlighting that celebrity on vacation and the cellulite on their thighs. It’s frustrating to be taught that what matters is WHO we are as a person and then be told otherwise by the media.
There is reason to hope that the tide may be turning though. In the last decade or so I have begun to see more and more advertising that celebrates the diversity of the female form, and models representing all shades of skin color. I see women standing up for themselves, inspiring and advocating for other women, and celebrating their uniqueness. I see companies like Promise promoting self-worth and natural beauty, empowering, and encouraging other women. I love that Promise puts this into practice by providing quality pregnancy products not just to women who can afford it but to those who cannot. It does not get more beautiful than that. We owe it to our daughters and future generations to continue this progress and celebrate all women.
While I can’t control the content of ads or social media, I can control my response and exposure to it. I love the adage that “comparison is the thief of joy”, and I find myself occasionally having to remind myself of it as I scroll my social media feeds. When it becomes too much I close my laptop, set my phone down, and take a break. It helps to get my body moving and focus on the many things this perfectly imperfect body allows me to do rather than what it looks like. I also make time to spend with family and friends who can remind me of my strengths and bring them out in me. Perhaps my favorite way to rejuvenate is to spend time in nature, and be reminded that I am part of something much larger and more important than the shape of my midsection or what size clothing I wear. What are your favorite ways to take a break from social media or boost your self-esteem? Embrace who you are. You truly are remarkable in every way!
Shannon Sprayberry- Lifestyle and Women's Health Blogger- Washington