By Mariah Siddiqui
If you have been an avid social media user these past few years, you have probably been exposed to some ridiculous beauty trends that have gained popularity, or maybe even tried them yourself.
Today is International Women’s Day; a day where all over Canada and the rest of the world, women are being celebrated. In light of this day, let’s discuss these trends and their effect on the female image, how some may be dangerous, and what we need to do to create a future of acceptance.
Let’s begin with the Kylie Jenner lip challenge. When Jenner first revealed the drastic change on Instagram, she denied the use of lip fillers. The world took things into their own hands and started using a suctioning method to mimic her look. This was the start to another abnormal trend.
To achieve the “Kylie lip,” people would place their lips inside a shot glass and suck until the results came through. However, many didn’t achieve the results they were hoping for and ended up with significant bruising around the mouth. This technique can cause intense pain and swelling with a potential risk of scarring and permanent disfiguration. Many people, including Kylie made comments opposing others trying to achieve her look.
Up next is the thigh gap. A thigh gap is the space between the inner thighs that show when people are standing straight with their knees touching. This trend is almost impossible to achieve naturally, and many girls have leaned towards the plastic surgery known as “thighlighting” to transform their legs to look slimmer. This look mimics Victoria Secret models and superstars such as Beyoncé.
Victoria Secret is one company known to only hire models who are slim, tall and fit their “picture perfect” image. The company itself promotes unrealistic images for women when they should be promoting all the different body shapes and sizes of those who buy their products.
In addition to companies that promote unrealistic body expectations, social media plays a vital role in how women tend to view themselves and others. Many celebrities, models, YouTube personalities and bloggers have become what we now call social media influencers. These women tend to have a large following and the “ideal body” according to the media. Some have achieved their bodies naturally through a healthy and active lifestyle. However, there are also influencers who shamelessly promote weight-loss and toning supplements to their followers. They encourage their followers to do what they do in order to achieve their look. These influencers get paid to promote products, suggesting they work even if that isn't true. In reality, many of these supplements are unhealthy for the body and can actually do more harm than good.
In 2016, Canadian singer and songwriter Alessia Cara used her song “Scars to Your Beautiful” to showcase women from different backgrounds and sizes. She is a true icon for self-love and the idea of straying away from the image of perfection Hollywood and social media portray.
In an interview with HuffPost Canada Style after the release of her music video, the 22-year-old singer stated: "It was harder for me before I entered the industry, being young and not really that confident in myself, because I was just seeing all these images of what I felt I was supposed to look like and I was always really self-conscious about it.”
So why do us women continue to put ourselves through body-breaking trends in order to look a certain way? Why do we pay thousands of dollars for plastic surgery?
On one hand, people argue that if they don’t like something about themselves, they can just change it so that they won’t have to be insecure about it anymore. However, it is possible that these trends are causing greater insecurity because whatever is “in style” becomes their fantasy, and the need to make it their reality will always be in their mind.
On the other hand, people argue that you should embrace your insecurities and learn to love them, which is easier said than done. Women have so much pressure to fit a certain image because of social media and other media outlets that only represent women that look a certain way. Every type of body should be celebrated and be considered “in style” in order to break the trends that only celebrate one type of look.
All women should empower each other no matter what decision you make. Whether you decide to change a part of you that you don’t like, or say ‘whatever’ and embrace your natural self, it is ultimately your choice. Your choice is valid no matter which way you go as long as you remember to support all those around you, regardless of what they look like.
There is an International Women’s Day rally happening this Saturday in Toronto and all are welcome. This year’s theme is: “We are Fearless: Organizing our Communities, Supporting Each Other, Growing the Resistance.” Check out more on their Facebook page.