A standard is an “average” or “norm” or “common factor”. Yet, ironically, when ever we talk about standards in terms of beauty, we inflate them to the point of impossibility. Sure we call them “high” but high is at least attainable. Beauty standards around the world have become unrealistic for the average, normal, common, or standard person.
Where do these crazy beauty standards come from? Some of them are innate, such as being attracted to big breast, which signal fertility and being able to produce large amounts of milk for offspring. But most of the beauty standards we see are created and perpetuated by society.
My theory on the origins of beauty standards, throughout history and in modern times, is that they come from what the majority of people don’t have. For instance, currently everyone wants to be thin or skinny or have a thigh gap.
Why? because it is much easier to eat that burger and shake for lunch than it is to pass it over for a salad and water. It is also easier to sit on the couch and watch Netflix all day while sipping on a glass of wine than it is to walk around outside or go on a hike with your friends.
Being in peak, ideal shape is hard. Because it’s so hard, the majority of America is not skinny. We are the second heaviest country in the world. We envy the smaller portion of the population who are thin and fit.
The minority is the “standard” of beauty and what everyone seeks to look like.
Still don’t believe me? Well look back in history. Centuries ago, being a little bigger or overweight was seen as beautiful. Food back then was scarce and the only people who were able to afford food were the wealthy, who made up a very small portion of the population. The majority, who were thin and unable to gain weight wanted to be fatter.
The same goes for Asians. We also want to be thin but instead of tan (like Americans), Asians want to be a pale as possible. Translucent, even. Borderline looking like we have a terminal illness. Majority of Asians are not born pale. This came from the fact that, a long time ago, being pale signaled high status and wealth. That you didn’t have to work outside, or even work at all.
Also, if it wasn’t obvious, having big eyes in Asian cultures is considered beautiful. It is typical for most Asians (yes, even men) to get a form of plastic surgery that creates a “double-lid” which makes your eyes bigger. Only 30% of the Korean population is born with this naturally.
And the bigger your eyes, the more you are envied. If you want to get even more ridiculous, the shape of your double eye lid or the way your lid creases, can vary the degree of envy you receive.
Why are these features considered the beauty standard in Asia? Do they have anything to do with actual innate or evolutionary attractions we cannot help? Nope. It is because the majority of people don’t have them. They are rare. Most things that are rare are sought after and envied.
It is, however, innate in human beings to want to differentiate ourselves from each other through hierarchies. We want to create divides between the “haves” and the “have nots” especially when it comes to beauty because it can be easily and quickly judged.
But all of this wanting what you do not have is silly. Making all these features the “standard” is slowly killing the self-esteem of women (and men) everywhere. It is creating a society filled with girls who have terrible body images. It is also fostering a lot of self-hate and inability to accept oneself for who they are.
It’s even sillier to realize, it is impossible to have been born with all of the features that we call the “standard”. Majority of people do not look like what we label as the “standard”. Why should the bigger portions of populations want to look like a very small group of people? The standard of beauty should be the majority, not the minority.
Silly society, beauty standards are for idiots.
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