Apr 7, 2014

Why Airbrushed Women Should Not Hurt your Self-Confidence

By Wordsmith


We all have those feelings of insecurity about the way we look, especially as women. Bombarded with images of models/celebrities with the perfect hair, makeup, bodies, clothes; it really never ends.

But what does that do to our self-esteem? I personally feel like crap on some days, the days when everything looks or feels wrong.

But maybe it is not us who look wrong... maybe the standard we compare ourselves to is way off...

When most women think about their bodies and how “ideal” they are, their judgments are unfortunately not fueled by their latest medical check-up or even calculating their Body Mass Index (BMI). Their thought process is actually a very unhealthy one, based on extremely unrealistic images perpetuated through the famous (or in this case, infamous) film industry and mass media.

Writing this article was very therapeutic for me. I hope that these facts/tips help refocus your psyche on reality and boost your self-confidence, as they did for me.

1. Hollywood, models, and pretty much all women on TV are... FAKE
What if I told you that the typical female body type featured in the media is mirrored by only five percent of American women (1)? Is that not a reality check? Only five percent of the one hundred fifty seven million women in the U.S. have a figure that mirrors that of models/actresses in the media. The rest probably look a lot more like you and me and your voluptuous aunt Khadijah.

Most Hollywood performers are actually not the average human beings. Besides the fact that they have relatively rare figures, it is widely known that cosmetic surgery, ranging from breast implants to chin Botox, is a popular fad amongst celebrities. Toby Mayer, a plastic surgeon of Hollywood, states quite bluntly that “everyone in Hollywood has had surgery (2).” And besides the silicon, it is pretty obvious that no Hollywood star has ever performed without makeup, nor have they made a public appearance without the assistance of their professional prep-team. Pamela Anderson’s perfect beach waves were not a product of her own Do It Yourself curling session at home nor were her blinding pearly whites made by simply brushing twice a day.

The reality is that the media’s depiction of perfection, especially in Hollywood, is a fake one. Case in point, we all need to stop comparing ourselves to airbrushed, photoshopped, silicon-fashioned people. Being that we have established the fact that no one looks like that naturally, let’s move on to the next point.

2. Sex sells
I think it is important to recognize why we, as a society, are so manipulated by these images of retouched, perfect, and non-existent beauties. Why is the same highly-fabricated myth perpetuated as the only accepted depiction of beauty and femininity in mass media?

Well, for one thing, sex sells. It is really easy to sell someone a product by appealing to their human desire and sexuality. Heck, even Green Giant, a frozen vegetables company, uses an attractive female to sell their frozen broccoli. Because when people think of their product, they not only think of fresh broccoli but also a sexy woman dressed in radiant jade green. She is flawless and beautiful, so maybe their broccoli is equally fresh? In fact, research has found “[that] seeing an attractive man or woman in an advertisement excites the areas of the brain that make us buy on impulse, bypassing the sections which control rational thought (3).”

This does not mean that the typical image of a woman depicted in the media is what is the most attractive. Obviously, different people have different perceptions of what beauty is, especially among different cultures.

But, as a society, we have allowed ourselves to be convinced that only tall, thin, flawless, white women are beautiful because they are most often the “ideal women” on TV. Such is most evident when we use this non-existent standard to evaluate our appearances and try to match our looks to what is projected to us.

3. Stop Buying Tabloids
If you are one of those people who constantly keep up with celebrities and every detail of their personal lives, including their stretch marks, you should not be surprised at the fact that you are so dissatisfied with the way you look.

Keep in mind that awrah for women, even amongst women, is from navel to knee. So it is technically haram for you to be scrutinizing the bodies of every model and actress in Seventeen. Maybe that is the point.

Your obsession with unrealistic and far-removed human beings will only serve to hurt you in the long run. These people are not going to help you lose weight, and you will never look like them no matter how much you spend on your cover-up. Rid yourself of this attachment, because Angelina Jolie does not even know you exist.

But Allah does. Which brings me to my final point.

4. Perfect is how you were created
In surat At-Tin, Allah says the following:

“We have certainly created man in the best of stature (95:4)

If God Himself, has breathed His spirit into you and vows that you have been perfected in creation, of what importance are these insignificant, unrealistic standards in relativity to the one Allah has set for you?

Br. Wael Abdelgawad says from Islamicsunrays.com it much more eloquently than I can:

“You are perfect, whether you admit it or not. Go with it. Live up to it. It’s not a burden but a liberty. It is the freedom to be who Allah put you on this earth to be. It’s the freedom to dream and achieve without the chains of self-doubt or self-deprecation. It’s the freedom to accept yourself, love yourself, and allow yourself to love others fee-sabeel-illah, in Allah’s cause, and to live a full life of meaning and worth (4).”

In more practical terms, take the time to admire yourself the next time you look in the mirror. Smile and praise/thank Allah for whom He has made you, both in your individuality and appearance. Embrace your own uniqueness and think of this ayah when you feel your self-esteem riding low.

And when you are just having one of those days, make it a “Pick Yourself Up Day.” Make a homemade face mask. Get your nails done. Treat yourself. Put a little more effort into your appearance. Sometimes that’s what it takes, because looking good makes you feel good. Just beware of confining your definition of “looking good’ to one that reflects an exclusively surreal standard. Most importantly, take the time to admire the positive aspects of both your character and natural beauty, because both parts make you who you are.



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