By: Sarah Brill
Beauty has been defined and redefined over the course of many years to best fit where society is at a specific point and time. Growing up female is definitely difficult. Many of us try to fit the mold of societal standards. If you didn’t dress, act, or even think a certain way, especially in high school, you were ostracized from your peers. Out of 62 Stern women, 77.4% reported dressing or acting certain ways because society dictates it. Every day we are bombarded with images on the web or in magazines of what we “should” be, or 5 different ways to change everything about ourselves in attempt to “assimilate.” “Put a smile on that pretty face, pretty girl,” said one Stern student when describing her experience. “We are just supposed to conform and be happy because that what a society of masculinity dictates.” Contrary to this fact, however, 67.7% of Stern women reported feeling confident while looking in the mirror. So what can explain this discretion? Could it be that while getting ready for work or for school we feel confident about our bodies, but once we see our peers, billboards, or social media we are immediately diminished?
Nonetheless, body images have changed drastically over the past 40 years. Companies such as Aerie, by American Eagle, are using models who have defined curves or birthmarks, which better represents the 80% of the population who do not to live up to the unreachable expectations Victoria’s Secret or Vogue models set. These expectations can cause women to go to drastic measures just to be “beautiful.” “I had severe eating disorders for years in order to fit into society and know what beauty is. My life became counting calories, instead of enjoying life. I became a number on a scale” said the Stern student.
But models aren’t the only problem in our image crisis. The worst is when you compare yourself to others. Growing up as a women, we tend to model our style and our “look” off of our peers. This is most common amongst younger women because we felt/feel the need to fit in. Did you ever judge that one girl in the class who maybe dyed her hair a different color or wore a “crazy looking” shirt? Maybe you did and maybe you didn’t but let me tell you this: that is the girl no one wants to talk to because she looks “different,” but that is also the girl who has the most confidence and most vivacity to stand out in a sea of conformity. Here at Stern we also have this problem. A large number of students tend to look sideways at the girl who looks different or the girl who defies the gender specific norms. But let me ask you this, are you looking because she is
different or are you looking because you are jealous?
Society is changing, and it is changing for the better. We are becoming more and more accepting people’s thoughts and actions each day. Still, we have a long way to go until society recognizes that nothing is ever uniform.
Writers Note: Thank you all who contributed to the google form!