The media has a knack for telling us what our bodies are supposed to look like. Films, television, music videos, magazines, posters and advertisements as we walk down the street; all of them have been, since the very beginning of our lives, subconsciously shaming us into thinking we are supposed to act and look a certain way. A Western teenage boy may take a second glance at a tiny-waisted, large-breasted girl walking past him because that has always been what social media and television has enforced as the ‘most’ attractive. But how does he know that this is his genuine preference, and just how far has he been moulded by what our society has embedded into his way of viewing the world? Of course, we all have personal tastes and each one of us individually views the world in a slightly different light; some things appear beautiful to some, yet distasteful to others as a consequence or a reflection, some may argue, of what we have experienced consciously and subconsciously throughout our lives. There is no right and wrong when it comes to physical beauty, we are who we are; and yet as simple as this sounds, society continuously tries to direct the way in which we should be feeling about others and about ourselves.
Weight bias, also known as ‘fat-shaming’, is an ever-present example which has been discussed heavily across various spectrums, but particularly in relation to beauty and the world of fashion. Yet at the opposite end of the line and disturbingly taken a lot less seriously, is ‘skinny-shaming’. Those deemed as too slim often struggle, and feel repressed in their facility to communicate what may feel like body degradation, not simply because it is considered a rather light-hearted criticism but that ‘skinny’ people can afford to have their bodies condemned whereas those who are overweight cannot. The emotional effect of this derogatory attitude is just as repulsive and damaging as ‘fat-shaming’. It is long overdue for today’s society, and all those who have allowed certain social hegemonies to taint their perceptions, to realise that nobody should ever be told that they need to change the way that they look.
This applies to any body type, not just those who are underweight or those who are overweight. You don’t have to be under a size eight to look good, but neither should you have to have curves to look sexy. The fact remains that we are all beautiful. The world of the media doesn’t want us to accept who we are and feel satisfied with the way that we look. This is because, despite the skin-deep messages of pleasure, enjoyment, carelessness that the media gives us on the surface; a contented, self-assured nation of people is not in their money-making interests.
A lot of what we see and watch on a daily basis, feeds on and gleefully nourishes our insecurities. The hardest part, perhaps, is being able to recognise its control over the way in which we view people around us, and being able to dismissively hurdle over it. We do not need such negativity in a world thriving with so many uniquely attractive people.