Who defines your standard of beauty and physical appearance? Is it yourself? Your friend group? Social media and pop culture? This question has been on my mind lately after receiving this advertisement in the mail for a local gym.
These 2 athletic creatures graced the cover, and my immediate thought was “Yep. Everyone wants to look like her.” At the same time, my boyfriend scoffed, “Look at this picture. She’s got a six-pack and then zero muscle definition anywhere else. Obviously the abs were photoshopped because you don’t get ab definition without getting other definition.”
Fascinating. I realized that I had been in the middle of falling prey to exactly what the ad was trying to accomplish: reminding all of us that apparently the current standard of beauty and fitness for a woman is a six-pack. I had not even noticed the lack of definition in her arms or legs and had only thought “Wow. Awesome abs.” But he was absolutely correct. A person doesn’t really get abs like that without other evidence of fitness from head to toe. This brought up a slew of questions for me:
- Who decided that the six-pack is the current standard?
- Why wasn’t this woman photoshopped with defined quads and shoulders as well?
- Who told women to not desire having muscles other than abs?
- Pretty sure the quads on that man were photoshopped too. Who decided quads were the male standard?
- Why can’t gyms be about healthy bodies instead of “getting ripped” anyways?
- WHY DO MAGAZINES AND ADVERTISEMENTS INFLUENCE OUR CONFIDENCE IN OUR APPEARANCES SO DRASTICALLY?
I realize that last question is one that has been floating around for years. Many women and men alike are releasing the cultural expectations to look a certain way. But there is still a long way to go. Are you falling prey to the hundreds of expectations laid before you each day without even realizing it like I did with this flyer? Spend some time today asking yourself who or what is defining your standard. Somebody else’s standard will only serve to lead you on a wild goose chase since media is constantly redefining what it is. Define your own. Choose health and fitness for you and your quality of life. It just might be the only way to be truly beautiful, inside and out.