Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Recognizing unhealthy beauty standards

Official Victorias Secret Facebook Page
(Official Victoria’s Secret Facebook Page)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a girl staring into the mirror, utterly distraught at what she sees in front of her. I can’t even tell you how many instances I’ve done that myself. My friends will tell you I am notorious for staring at mirrors wherever I go. To some, this could be considered vanity. To me, it’s simply a way of making sure my appearance is suitable enough for the outside world. Ultimately, I am grooming myself to please others.

Right after I anxiously stare at my reflection, I refresh my Instagram feed and see a multitude of pictures of celebrities, including Victoria’s Secret models lounging on the sand, tanned to perfection and long-legged, making it look easy to lay in the sand in sweltering heat. Trust me, in my experience, you usually get sand in your mouth, hair and eyes.

“Have you seen Kylie Jenner’s latest Instagram post? She looks so skinny. How does she do it? I’ll never look like that.”

These words echo in the dining halls when my friends and I are getting some much-needed sustenance at the end of an exhausting day. The same old insecure whine rings in my ears. We all stare at our meals miserably, picking at our food and wishing we didn’t experience hunger. I look at the cheese quesadillas longingly, wishing that I could devour three or four of them (five or six if we’re being honest) and not feel guilty about it afterward. Does Kylie Jenner even experience hunger pangs? Or hunger at all? My group of friends and I are just a few of her 55 million followers that are exposed to the heavily edited shots of the reality starlet’s toned, curvy body and glamor shots of her exfoliated, flawless skin. Essentially, we are made to feel worse about ourselves because we don’t look like her – she is every man, woman and dog’s dream.

I have grown tired of the way we perceive ourselves and how much pressure is placed on people, particularly women, to look a certain way. These people that we aspire to look like have carefully constructed themselves through fitness trainers, makeup and hair artists and professional photographers. Not to say that they are not beautiful the way they are naturally; we just don’t see that side of them as often as we see the airbrushed, photo shopped and “perfect” version of them.

I have also started to dislike social media for this exact reason and have vowed to focus on all the good things about myself other than my physical appearance. I have made an honest attempt to be grateful for all that is so wonderful in my life, instead of groaning about how out of control my eyebrows have gotten (finally got them threaded so no more groaning about that).

As much as I love to share my life with my friends and family, it’s important to realize that life is for living, not documenting for others to see. It’s also time to stop placing so much pressure on ourselves and conforming to society’s expectations. It may sound easier said than done – believe me, I know. But give it a try. You may be surprised at how liberating it feels.

Ruwan Teodros is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • H

    Hiba SobhMar 26, 2016 at 4:23 am

    Inspiring message Ruwan! 🙂

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Mar 25, 2016 at 7:19 am

    Bravo Ruwan!

    I recall many years ago reading about an effort to find the “next teen model sensation”. Over 10,000 young women sent in applications.

    Now understand that these were not random women; these were women who were aware of their appearance, doubtless worked on their appearance, and thus were – appearance-wise – the “cream of the crop”. How many were actually picked?


    One can see this insanity in men too, desperately attempting to obtain the “six pack abs” and chiseled physique seen and oh-so-admired.