The problems with "standards" created for women

Women represent half the global population. We also represent one third of the labor force. We have paved the way for our own success throughout history. We have made huge strides to demand equality in a world where we still earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. Yet, we don't give up. We have strength, we have hope, we have power...so why do we let the world damage our self esteem?

Seeing and hearing about our flaws has become the norm. But, usually these flaws are not ones that actually exist. They are instead created by the media. Every day we are surrounded by air brushed Victoria's Secret commercials, magazines that feature photo shopped models, and television shows that feature actresses that look so perfect, they make you wonder if you are watching your favorite sitcom, or models on a runway. When we constantly look at women who are not realistic, we begin to look at ourselves in a different light, and see flaws that we didn't see before.

Social media can also impact the way we see ourselves. I personally realized this a few weeks ago, after following a few new accounts on Instagram. I followed accounts that, from their descriptions, featured healthy eating tips, workout tips, and overall fitness tips. During the following weeks, my feed was filled with women with perfect bodies; six pack abs, toned arms, sculpted butts...everything that is completely unrealistic, unless you are a body builder who spends most of your time in the gym. The "workout tips" I saw were executed through a few videos I saw, where the same women were scantily clad in sports bras and tight leggings, in full makeup and hair, "showing" the audience how to do the perfect squat. There were no "tips", just pictures and videos of toned, sculpted women.

I honestly didn't realize the affects the pictures and videos were having on me until a few weeks later, when I caught myself comparing my body to the women I saw. I was surprised at myself. When I was little, my mom told me I was beautiful every day, and eventually I began to believe her. Whenever I would say things like "I wish I had blue eyes" or "I wish I was a little taller" or "I wish I had curly hair like you, mom", she would simply tell me that I was perfect the way I was. Why should pictures on Instagram influence me more than the words of my mother? Why should a couple of photoshopped pictures break down the confidence that my mother has so carefully instilled in me? I won't let that happen to me. But, that doesn't mean it's not going to happen to other women. It's already happening right now.

This kind of behavior has become so normal to us, that we become enthralled in it. We don't even realize what we are doing. Our attention is captured by the Victoria's Secret models, by the photoshopped images, and by the next big "skinny pill" to hit the market. I think it's time to take a step back. Why does any woman need to meet a standard? We need to shift our attention to how to be content in our own skin.