OPINION | Your body, your rules: loving your body the way it is

The influx in social media usage over the years has increased the amount of unhealthy self-awareness surrounding people’s bodies. These new fashion trends can end up being harmful, so it’s important to take everything you see online with a grain of salt. Mason Britton | Sun News Daily

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In the United States, about 80% of women do not like how they look. Around 35% of men are anxious about their weight, and up to 85% are unhappy with their muscularity. This translates to the high number of $13.5 billion spent on aesthetic procedures in 2016.

Utah is ranked 5th in the nation for worst body image issues. The high standards for beauty in Utah often make women and men want to change the way they look.

Utah is seen as a more sophisticated and well-educated state from both people in and outside of the state. This can be for many different reasons, such as the culture or the ideals of beauty.

The culture in Utah is very specific to the area. A lot of the time, one of the main goals for many young women who grow up here is to get married, have children and be a good wife. This can make the focus on beauty very prominent.

There is a stigma in Utah that women must be very pretty or else they won’t find a good husband or won’t be pretty enough to get married. Billboards all over downtown Salt Lake City advertise aesthetic procedures, encouraging people to change their appearances. This does not help this stigma. It makes it worse.

Having this knowledge makes me upset and mad. I will never understand why there is a need to spend billions of dollars on surgeries to change the way our faces or bodies look. Being happy with who you are and what you look like is something that should be valued more, not changing the way you look to fit society’s standards.

If there is a realistic change that you want done to your body, find a natural way to do it. Whether that be working out, applying a little bit of makeup to brighten the eyes up, or even going outside and tanning during the summer, there are so many better alternatives.

For both men and women, the need or pressure from society to get that perfect match while you’re still young can be overwhelming. People change the way they look in order to appeal to those around them rather than just being who they are. 

All around the world, beauty seems to be a key element in how successful you are. The fear of being “ugly” or not the “right” kind of pretty can be detrimental. Trying to achieve that perfect body can cause lasting effects, from eating disorders to permanently altering your body to appease the masses.

About 23,000 cosmetic procedures were performed on teens who were 19 years of age or younger in 2022. Some of these cases can be for medical reasons, but those other cases were meant for appearances only due to insecurities or trends that took hold. This shocks me because these people are so young. A lot of these surgeries are not simple. They can be invasive and harsh to the body. For these young people to be changing their bodies based on opinions and thoughts from other teenagers around them in high school makes me really sad.

The mental state many of these young people get into in order to feel that they need these procedures done is often a negative one. The climb to get out of that headspace is incredibly difficult and can worsen as time goes on. The fact that this mindset is set in these teenagers at such a young age really worries me for future generations.

I can see how each state has its own sort of perfect image or what people find pretty based on the location, but society often forgets that each person is different. This is not just with their mental ideals and how they think, but biologically, everyone is different. 

Their face shape, bone structure, metabolism or even the way their hair grows is vastly different. Identical twins aren’t even 100% identical. For society to put up a picture of the “perfect” person is ridiculous and heartbreaking. 

Social media also has a big part in these images, and in Utah alone, it has impacted countless people. We all know how people on social media platforms edit or pose themselves in order to contort themselves into the “perfect” image

I have found, for my own mental health and well-being, that deleting or unfollowing all of those negative influencers or accounts off my devices has made the biggest difference. I limit myself to following people who show positivity both mentally and physically. I am still able to follow accounts like ballet, clothing or gym accounts with specific limitations.

I do my research and look into the platforms to find out what kind of message they are trying to send with what they are posting. If it is a negative message or they only focus on how they look and not deeper things in life, then I don’t support or follow them. This is something that I have found helps me stay away from that hard mindset that many of us fall into.

In the future, I really hope to see more people posting the reality of themselves and not being ashamed of it. Be proud of who you are and what you really value in life, more so than just the way you look or the way you think you should look. You are beautiful just the way you are. Having wrinkles, smile lines or freckles just shows the life you’ve lived and the emotions you’ve felt. There is nothing wrong with that.