Dominique Lee

This conversation is closed.

How do we make a societal change to provide healthy body image and self-esteem in a culture that pushes unrealistic beauty norms on youth?

I've been researching positive body image and self-esteem works and wonder if as a culture we are able to provide a realistic portrayal of what beauty is in our youth and young women? Or are we setting them up with unrealistic expectations and failure? Are we rejecting those who do not fit in those cultural beauty standards? What are your thoughts? How can we make a difference?

  • thumb
    Feb 5 2013: How can we make a difference? By having a culture that encourages the free flow of the genuine goodness and loving empathy. I have a friend, who by any standard, is not a role model of positive body image. I know it. He knows it. After 20 years of having him as a friend, his pockmarked face with funny nose is one of the most beautiful sight for me.
    I think it is in our mind naturally unless negative memes make us believe otherwise.
  • thumb
    Feb 8 2013: This is a good question, and one that has been bothering me for some time.

    But I'd like to ask you - why is your question about beauty norms of youth? Why not older people too? At what age do we cease to be beautiful?

    I find the idea of beauty judged exclusively on outward physical appearance very strange indeed, because beauty of mind can easily override any physical characteristic that falls outside any modern idea of it. Beauty of mind also isn't age-specific. An older person can thus be far more beautiful that any young person who spends every waking moment preening themselves in front of a mirror.

    But there's a dilemma here in current trends of how beauty is defined and displayed. Although controversial and subjective to say so, it seems that ugliness is now the new beautiful in the things we own. We buy ugly cars, own ugly dogs, live in ugly houses with walls adorned with what is laughingly called 'art'.

    I can only suggest that if what I've said is true, then beauty seems to have moved from depth to shallowness; from the enduring to the temporary - with a kind of timidity of being anything other than youthful.
  • thumb
    Feb 5 2013: Your avatar depicts a well-crafted example of the very subject you address. The subject is important and influential in young girls lives particularly. The make-up, weight loss, hair and nail salon, clothing, and spa industries make billions of dollars a year feeding-off this media-conveyed image of perfection. The bad news is anorexia, bulemia, emotional turmoil, and even suicide. The "realistic portrayal of beauty" you mention should come from enlightened, intelligent, loving parents. Of course that is no longer the norm in our society. Many young folks are left to form their personality and self-image based upon peer pressure and media hype. To fix the problem we need to do something very difficult for a society to do. . . recognize the problem and deal with it. Historically that is not going to happen because there is too much money in the appearance game. It's up to each Mom and Dad to set their kids straight. Good question Ms. Lee. Thank you!
    • thumb
      Feb 5 2013: I agree, Ed, that home can make a difference in this. None of the females in my family, for example, wear make-up or ever have. None cares about being glamorous or fashionable.

      And it isn't about making a statement of any kind. It just isn't where priorities are or how time and money are spent.

      The males don't worry about fashion either.
      • thumb
        Feb 5 2013: Bravo, sir! Bravo to the whole Reisner family! God's beauty is everywhere in its pure, simple form. I feel for those who are, and have been, without parental guidance and have become obsessed with pursuing the imaginary perfect beauty and form. Maybe we need a "Green" (aka natural) movement focused on personal appearance. Be well!
  • thumb

    W. Ying

    • +1
    Feb 6 2013: .
    Yes. We need “to provide a realistic portrayal of what beauty is.”

    Real beauty leads us to reach the goal of our life ---- Keeping our DNA alive.
    Pseudo-beauty leads us only to make money, cheat our symbiotic members, and harm our offspring.

    (For BEAUTY, see the 1st article, point 9, at
  • thumb
    Feb 7 2013: I don't know, because it's not like we execute all non-beautiful people. Non-beautiful people have interesting, happy lives, too, and know it and feel blessed.
  • Feb 5 2013: At the risk of sounding sexist, IMO the tendency of women to want to appear sexually attractive is not completely cultural.

    The obsession that our culture has with female fashion and body image is a direct result of capitalism and mass media. Mass media is used to sell this obsession with the purpose of increasing sales, and it is an easy sell because it only has to amplify an innate tendency.

    I have tried sharing this idea with women, and even if they accept this idea, the behavior and feelings tend to remain the same. If there is any chance of providing future women with a realistic attitude about body image it is by teaching them starting at a very young age. Part of the lesson should be an emphasis on keeping a HEALTHY weight. Humans did not evolve with the kind of diet that our technology now provides for us, and we can anticipate that maintaining a healthy weight will continue to be problematic for both sexes.

    Another part of the lesson should be critical analysis of advertising of all kinds. Modern advertising will say and show anything to make a sale.
  • Feb 5 2013: I doubt it Each person chooses what to believe.
    • thumb
      Feb 5 2013: Belief is accepting what elders say when one is adolescent, what ideologues say when one is young and what wise say when one is old. True knowledge does not seek endorsement of belief - it stands face to face to the challenge of falsification and ready to be amended.
      I am very unsure if we really choose to believe anything - behind each person's belief there lie information, peer pressure, social memes and desire to conform.