Our Instagram, Facebook and social media is flooded with images that tell us we aren’t good enough.
Yes please ❤ #love #TagsForLikes #TFLers #tweegram #photooftheday #20likes #amazing #followme #follow4follow #like4like #look #instalike #igers #picoftheday #food #instadaily #instafollow #like #girl #iphoneonly #instagood #bestoftheday #instacool #instago #all_shots #follow #webstagram #colorful #style #swag A photo posted by Thigh Gap (@thighgapproject) on
It's hounded with images like these that tell you what you are supposed to strive for - the epitome of beauty.
So I put this question to you…
Is getting a thigh gap really going to make you happy? Is focusing on aesthetics your whole life going to be worth it?
The problem is:
You won’t be happy if you are constantly chasing this type of beauty because physical beauty is completely subjective.
So it’s a choice you will come up against – do you want to be happy or constantly agonizing over how you look? Let me explain more...
My story is your story
Like 92% of women (pretty much every woman), I had issues with my body too.
I was too butch, too athletic – thick thighs and broad shouldered. I didn’t fit the picture in the magazines. I wasn’t the ‘slim’ model that graced every page.
Do you remember the first time you realised your body was ‘wrong’?
That you hated what you looked like in the mirror or realised that your body wasn’t what it’s ‘supposed’ to be like the fashion industry demands/portrays?
I do – and it made me feel like there was something wrong with me. It produced years of torment growing up and is something that I speak about passionately.
I’m sure nearly every young girl is going through this same moment of realisation at some point as they grow up.
It makes me so sad that they should feel the same as I did. For no good reason other than the fact that society has decided on an aesthetic, which is nowhere near what most of us look like.
Only a small percentage of the population actually fit this aesthetic and they may have issues of their own.
I’m certainly not saying this is fair – that these industries and society decide what beauty is or what it’s not. But so far this has been and is the case.
Beauty is subjective and in the eyes of the beholder
The subjectivity of beauty is the cause of the problem – you’ll never be able to obtain what you’re searching for because the ideals of beauty are constantly changing and in the eyes of the beholder.
For example, chasing the thigh gap. This is a relatively newly named beauty phenomenon, which you might try to achieve by losing weight.
You diet for months and pound the treadmill at the gym to at least have some resemblance to your favourite models physique.
You actually achieve your goal. Super proud you walk out in a new pair of short shorts. Your chatting to a lovely guy you’ve had your eye on for ages. Talking about models you mention your love for your thigh-gapped #inspo.
Suddenly he spits out how he doesn't like skinny models and how stupid thigh gaps are. He likes women with more ‘cushioning ’.
Now this is just an example BUT it does illustrate how the subjectivity of beauty is a massive problem when chasing certain ideals of beauty because they are either constantly changing in society or not everyone agrees.
Although you might lust over thigh gaps because you’ve decided that its what’s beautiful – your lover boy has a completely different idea of beauty.
Therefore even if you have achieved your thigh gap you’ll never be able to please everyone.
This is not to say having a goal and moving towards it, is a bad thing. My point is if you obsess over certain beauty ideals, you’ll be unhappy if you can’t achieve them - in most cases your body simply won't allow you to reach them anyway.
Even if you achieve them, happiness is not always the outcome because you’re still not beautiful in everyone’s’ books.
If you are constantly focusing on these fleeting ideals, you will continually be unhappy with your looks and never truly be satisfied. Moreover, you could be the juiciest peach in the room but not everyone likes peaches.
It’s an uphill, exhausting battle and I’m sure many of you have been there before.
How do we decide what’s beautiful?
The ideals that we have are imagined. But because a majority believe these imagined ideals, they become cemented in our mind as true.
In US history, there was and still is a huge disparity between black and whites. During its history people began to associate typically features of the whites as beautiful - narrow slightly upturned noses, pale skin, straight hair whereas Negros had features deemed ugly - dark skin, flat broad noses, curly hair, wide hips.
These beliefs were rooted in deep racial discrimination – namely that whites were human and blacks sub human and therefore people attributed theses features to beautiful – white, and ugly – black.
But these beliefs are just figments of the imagination. There are many cultures where the features of black people are seen as deeply desirable. This is because these cultures, for whatever reason, have decided that these characteristics are coveted (usually based on traits which promote the survival of the species).
Beauty is fluid, beauty changes over time and it can be consciously taught and overturned.
I am literally suggesting that what you believe to be attributes of physical beauty today can be changed, amended and improved.
You have been taught what you believe to be beautiful and can consequently also be untaught. You can change the way you feel about yourself and find beauty in many places you previously did not.
Even attributes that you previously judged as ugly, you can in fact change if you understand how people decide what is beautiful.
So how can you change your mindset to be happier with your body?
How can you and how did I overcome this negativity?
1. Search for tangible physical improvement not intangible
I’m in the fitness industry and have found the most comfort in performance-based training. Finding a place to train where I can measure my improvements in strength based training, gymnastics training and cardio has been integral in understanding how amazing my body really is.
I now understand how my body works, responds and excels in certain training environments, which will be different for everyone. I also have a newfound respect for my mind, which is so powerful you really can’t believe what you’re capable of.
What does performance based training look like? Measuring reps and weights, times and workouts so you can see how you’re improving.
I recommend this type of training to everyone, as it’s measurable, thus allowing you to see your progress.
How do you measure beauty or working out to obtain a certain aesthetic? As these “goals” depend on a person’s perceptions, you can never set a realistic goal to measure your progress and therefore, success.
What you can’t measure, won’t improve.
2. Learn to appreciate beauty in its many different forms
There are many different forms of beauty in this world and they come in many shapes and sizes. In Western society for example we are told beauty is skinny, tanned, big boobs, shaved legs, long hair etc – This is changing of course, but the typical adverts still have similar themes.
In Africa though, certain tribes actually fatten little girls because their standard of beauty is different. They see the larger the women the more beautiful - a stark contrast to western society.
This is a prime example of how beauty is subjective. It changes in the eye of the beholder.
Expand your understanding of beauty and find beauty in different areas other than the aesthetics of others.
3. Inner beauty counts for the most
It might sounds cliché but focusing more on how you can be a better person for those around you than focusing on how you look can actually be a welcome relief and make you happier.
I think the question is: Why do you want to spend your time being unhappy and worrying about your body? Our societies have drilled beliefs into our mind on how we should look and that we are inadequate otherwise. How long are you going to let society rule your life?
Making the change to feel good about yourself and be happy in your own skin begins with changing your mindset.
4. Accept beauty is subjective and not everyone will see the beauty you see
Ever played rate the celebrity? Everyone has a different opinion as to who’s hot and who’s not. This game, shows just how different each individual views other people’s beauty.
You can learn to use this knowledge to your advantage. You can actually create the rules on what you decide is beautiful.
The ideals we have are imagined. But because a majority believe these imagined ideals they can also be reimagined as something different.
You can choose what you find beautiful and create meaning for yourself...