Summer is around the corner, and women (and men) are gearing up for the dreaded swim suit season. Every form of media bombards us with advertisements, tips, and tricks to help us get the “bikini season body” we’re pressured to dream of. While there is no problem with a person wanting to get healthier and eat better, even for the sake of wanting to improve his/her appearance, my problem lies in the importance we place on our looks based on OTHER PEOPLE’S ideals and the illusion of perfection. That’s right, the illusion of perfection.
What does the word perfect mean? By definition, it is something that is without fault or defect. However, when judging strictly on someone’s appearance, perfection is entirely up to perception. What one person finds perfect, another may disagree with. Ergo, the premise that one can have a truly perfect appearance is simply a fantasy. There are billions of people on this earth, there is no way one person can please every single one of them. So why not focus on what YOU find attractive. You can appreciate someone’s appearance, but that does not mean you should try to conform to that ideal if it is not something you want for yourself. It certainly does not mean that you should try to change yourself based on what other people find attractive. I can hear the internal argument now, “But what if the majority of people says certain qualities are more attractive?” I would like to offer the rebuttal of, “Who cares?” Yes, everyone is entitled to his/ her own opinion, but does that mean you want to change yourself based on the opinions of someone else? Do you base your self-worth on other people’s opinions? Or do you want to decide for yourself what you find attractive? You wouldn’t let some random person pick your clothes for you in the morning, so why let random people decide what is attractive for your body? If you are constantly changing yourself or wishing you could change based on the ever varying opinions of other people, you will never be satisfied, for as I said, you can’t please everyone.
This is an issue we as a society have to fix. While the media does throw out these ideals for the most part, we feed into it, we perpetuate it. We tear each other down based on appearance when we have a difference of opinion. We beat ourselves up over having “flaws”. We compare ourselves to people that don’t really look as perfect as magazines show them to be. We have a society that says, “You can get plastic surgery,” which implies that our uniqueness is something to be fixed by paying thousands of dollars to someone that is essentially preying on insecurities for profit. (Reconstructive surgery is a different subject.) We have fashion magazines that have an obligatory article telling us we should love our bodies the way they are on one page while pandering the newest fad diet, exercise routine, and clothing to make one look 10 pounds lighter on the next 10 pages, with all models looking practically identical. Not that there is anything wrong with being healthy or skinny, but the way it is set up sends the wrong message when that is all you see. Fashion magazines are supposed to be about style, not weight. We suffer unnecessarily in many areas of our lives based on how the world sees us. Is it nice to feel attractive in other people’s eyes? Yes. But it is more important that one feels attractive no matter what other people think, otherwise one person could ruin someone’s day. Other people have a right to their opinion, but each person has a right to his/her opinions of him/her self as well. It is also important that someone’s worth isn’t based on appearance, because it is true, looks are only skin deep.
So this year when it is time to hit the beach, don’t let the opinions of others deter you from throwing on your bikini (or swim trunks, guys). Don’t feel like you have to diet, cover up, tone up, or gain muscle or curves just for the “sake of the eyes of others.” Even if you are working to reach the body that you want, don’t let that deter you in the meantime. Stop stressing. Love yourself. There’s only one you. At the end of the day, the only person’s opinion that matters about your body is yours.