Feminism and Beauty Standards


Camille Bugayong

From a young age, hundreds of us girls have been told that we are beautiful, strong, and powerful. Motivational speakers would tell us about the importance of self-love and how other people’s opinions don’t matter. Then, we were shoved into a world where our media is obsessed with an idealized view of what women should look like.

Social media and advertising screwed into our brains how we must change our faces and bodies. We are told how the littlest imperfections on our skin must be erased and how our worth is based on attractiveness. I wonder how we can live in a world that tells us, “Yes you are beautiful, but your skin isn’t light enough, your hair isn’t shiny enough, your body has scars, and your face doesn’t look like a model’s.” 

The release of KKW Beauty’s Skin Perfecting Body Foundation by Kim Kadashian created controversy over whether the product was helping or harming body image. Actress and feminist Jameela Jamil called out Kim Kardashian for the release of this product tweeting, “I’d rather just make peace with my million stretch marks and eczema.” Jamil followed up with more tweets acknowledging that some people may not be ready to go out without body makeup. She further explained in a now deleted tweet, “You’ve been taught to hate your natural body—which is devastating but also understandable in our current climate—but I’m not going to stop questioning and fighting the source of our shame.” It is important to accept that a substantial amount of people have insecurities about their body image, but it is also important to question why covering up imperfections makes us feel better about ourselves.

Growing up in a Filipino household, Miss Universe pageants were a big deal to me. Young viewers, including myself, envied the beauty of these contestants. As I got older, I noticed that every contestant had a similar body figure. They were all skinny, tall, had perfect glowing skin, and could walk down a runway in heels. The official website for the Miss Universe pageant explains that the whole organization is about celebrating women of various cultures and backgrounds in order to empower them. However, the requirements for competing in the pageant include being thin, being tall, and having a flawless face. How are girls supposed to be empowered when they watch women—who are the definition of unrealistic beauty standards—walk on stage? 

Social media has taken beauty standards to the next level with face filters on apps like Instagram and Snapchat. These filters alter the way you look by making your face look clear of acne, changing your skin tone to appear lighter, and changing the size of parts of your face such as your nose and eyes. Other filters imitate plastic surgery, even causing some people to go through the actual plastic surgery process in hopes of becoming acceptable to society. 

Meanwhile, feminism has become prominent within the last few decades. Powerful messages about self-confidence and self-love have impacted the lives of many. But the truth is the world has shown us that people value your looks, and could care less about the beauty of your soul.