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Beauty Standards Don’t Define Beauty

Photograph by Pete DeVito

The ever-growing spectrum of beauty standards for the past generations is still judged heavily by society till this day. Despite the media saying that you should be comfortable in your own skin, there are still some people who are criticised because of their appearances. Imperfections, according to typical beauty standards, are deemed as unconventional by society. On an emotional and psychological level, you would not be satisfied if you actively sought validation of "beauty" from others. So let's normalise these skin conditions, also known as imperfections.

Some common skin conditions people may be judged for are freckles, acne, stretch marks, cellulite, scarring, birthmarks, moles and Vitiligo (which is pigmented skin). Society has come to equate humanity with external beauty. It's surprising how people view appearances as of utmost importance. If they don't see the beauty in one person externally, they tend to treat that person poorly.

In Malaysia, people are often told that to be beautiful, you must have fair skin. According to CNN, there is a high demand for skin whiteners in the Asian market. Some skin conditions, such as freckles, have become more acceptable because of American influence. However, some still go for laser treatments to remove them because they may feel insecure about how they look with them.

Photograph by Pete DeVito

Skin Positive Movement

The idea of this movement is to create a realistic, healthy point of view on skin imperfections, instead of the overly glorified personifications of beauty depicted in advertisements and magazines. It strives to emphasise the importance of embracing different types of skin conditions.

People may not have the courage to show their so-called imperfections to the world. So these photographers and models combine forces with changing the perspective of society which derived from the internet or beauty influences.

Photograph by cxpturingsouls

There is a portrait series taken by Malaysian photographer, Amanda, known as @cxpturingsouls on Instagram and it aims to empower people and help them realise that they are not alone. The project, "I'm more than", shares the stories of multiple people with skin conditions, encouraging them to be confident in their own skin, no matter what they’re going through.

When speaking to @cxpturingsouls about her experiences growing up with vitiligo, Malaysian model, Sonya Danita Charles, says that “growing up as a girl who didn't look like everyone else around her was tough,”. However, she learnt to not give such negativity the time of day. Eventually, she got to a point in life where she became comfortable and happy in her own skin.

Social media plays a massive role in everyone's life. It is hard to avoid the many pictures that were photoshopped to display the unattainable, flawless idea of beauty. The endless photos of airbrushed skin from magazines, advertisements, and social media that are exposed to us daily only causes us to devalue our self-worth. This can be misleading because it wrongly dictates the true beauty standard and none of it shows natural skin imperfections in the media.

Media Impact

There are both positive and negative sides regarding beauty standards presented in the media. On the negative side, there are online trolls who hide behind screens commenting insensitive or malicious messages towards those who are merely trying to be accepted. On the other hand, with accessible and powerful platforms on social media, it has the opportunity to promote social awareness. The 'skin positive' movement helps audiences understand more about the cause, how to better one's self-esteem and advocate for acceptance for all.

Embrace Your Natural Beauty

All in all, our perception of beauty is mainly guided by cultural influences. The future of skin-acceptance is in our hands to make imperfections a norm. The definition of true beauty is continuously expanding. However, there is still a long way to go if mainstream beauty imagery keeps on glorifying unrealistic complexions.

Your beauty goes beyond your face and body. Focus on yourself instead of dwelling on other people's opinions.

By Xin Jie Jaye


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