The Problem with “Body Positivity” in Today’s Culture

d16388d8a9f6aee3e184b4ebe926e62cIn an age when anything on social media can and will go viral, celebrities and non-celebrities alike are turning to the Internet to share their messages of body positivity and acceptance. With all of the cyber-bullying out there, it’s great to see people using this platform for something good! However, the messages we see online (and in our media) about beauty and body image can be a little conflicting and sometimes more exclusionary than we think.

2015 has been a big year for the the makeup-free selfie craze — and truth be told, I’m not a fan. Let me clarify: I believe we should all have the right to take as many selfies as we want, with or without makeup (until, of course, our friends stop following us on social media for our liberal use of the hashtag #SelfieQueen… sorry, guys!). 🙂 Additionally, we all have the right to choose whether or not to wear makeup when we are in class, out for dinner, or even at the gym. However, we should do it because we feel like it… not because we are trying to make a particular statement about our media’s standards on beauty.

A big reason why I don’t buy into the makeup-free selfie craze is because it can be just as superficial as anything else, and a lot of the time, our online reactions to a celebrity’s photo are very different from our in-person reactions to a makeup-free friend or coworker. When Tyra Banks recently posted a photo of herself without makeup, people applauded her for showing the world her “real” self and demonstrating true body positivity. Meanwhile, when I forget to put on eyeliner, people tell me I look exhausted. 😦

b65f127c604ae9d71f6c6c03f5747923e09b934e84aa9625869487b28a215167Makeup or no makeup, the amount of cosmetics you invest in does not determine how real you are or what your value to society truly is. As women, we are often told to wear makeup, but not too much, and don’t let the guys know you’re wearing it! We should go for that natural look that 9 out of 10 men surveyed by Cosmo claim to like, and forgo the red lipstick even if we personally prefer it. Wearing “too much” makeup (as determined by your audience) means you’re only focused on the surface level and you aren’t true to yourself. It probably also means that you have little to no self esteem and that you are too worried about societal beauty standards. And God forbid you wear any makeup when you work out!

It is important to defend a woman’s decision not to wear makeup, and to instead value her for the light she brings into the world. However, it is just as important to defend a woman’s right to wear makeup, get her hair done or have cosmetic surgery without immediately dismissing her as superficial and sad. As women, we can make body positive statements by standing up for one another, treating each other with kindness, and  recognizing that our value is not determined by our looks.

Wear makeup because you want to wear makeup. Skip the makeup if it’s not your thing. Realize that everyone’s preferences on what is aesthetically pleasing can differ dramatically, so don’t hold others to your own.

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