Another Voice: Pressure to be perfect: The unreal image demands of society

I tried to change; closed my mouth more and walked the halls with my head down low. I tried to be someone who I am not. It’s haunted me, the feeling that I needed to look like everybody else, needed people to like me, needed to know that I was somebody. Wanting to be popular, pretty, and to “fit in.” This feeling of not being good enough will not go away.

Every day we strive to be this definition of “perfect,” when we don’t even know the definition. We wander the halls of middle school trying to hide and find ourselves, both at the same time. “I hate myself” is used so often these days it is almost a regular saying for some. We have grown up in a world with this pressure to be “perfect.”

For girls, there is a need to have the perfect hair, a perfect face, and mostly a perfect body. There is insane pressure from society and social media, but mostly from ourselves to be perfect. According to BBC.com, 610 out of 1,000, 11 to 21-year-old girls feel the need to be “perfect.” What their definition of perfect is, I don’t know. When will girls start to feel good enough in a world full of judgment and pressure to look and act a certain way?

photo

Campbell Roediger

Society has standards. Our world is full of plastic surgery, photoshop and ads with beautiful models. They all lead us to believe that being perfect is looking like everybody else. The definition of beauty has changed throughout the years. In the 1580s and 1590s, being obese was celebrated and thought to be very beautiful; it meant you were rich and had lots to eat. Now, being obese is frowned upon in our society. Dosomthing.org states that “91 percent of girls and women are unhappy with their bodies.” Look around, most of it’s a cover up, girls trying to be someone else to impress. Why do they have this need?

Scrolling through Instagram, we see perfect lives. That’s all they post. What we don’t see is the hard times. We look at profiles and think that is their complete life: All the pictures of them with their friends, the good pictures of them where they look amazing and all the fun times they are having. What we don’t see is their insecurities and troubles. On social media, the ads that pop up contain airbrushed and photoshopped models with tons of makeup. Our minds think that we need to be them. We need to stop comparing ourselves to people who get paid to look perfect, and be who they aren’t. Girls see over 400 ads a day. Most girls try to change to be like the airbrushed ads. My whole life, I never heard a girl or woman say to me, “I love my body”. They usually point out their flaws and things they need to fix, then move on. I can’t say I’m surprised. We spend too much of our time wondering why we are not good enough, wondering what we can change to look prettier.

“Don’t try to impress people,” and “always be yourself” is easier said than done. We tell ourselves to be unique, yet then go and try to be like everybody else. Our thoughts make us depressed. We are harder on ourselves than anybody else. Maybe we feel like we deserve it, or maybe we just hate the way we look. Not one girl can look in the mirror these days and not find a flaw in themselves. If the world was blind, who would you impress? Many girls have lists that go on and on about what they don’t like about themselves. You can’t convince someone they look beautiful. If they don’t believe it, then there is no way they are going to believe you, no matter how many times you try and tell them. We are way harder on ourselves than society.

When will all of this change? Who taught us to be so insecure, or that every little thing is a flaw? The size of your clothes is not what matters, but we somehow seem to think that it does, that looking like everybody else is what makes us beautiful. Our size, skin color, clothes, and appearance is not what makes us us. We are all human. Humans have flaws, but we can’t seem to accept that. We all have doubts and insecurities, too; that’s what makes us real. This definition of perfect is unrealistic and changes continually. Life goes on. Girls will be girls, continuing to live as if they are not good enough. This feeling is one we will carry with us until we stop caring what other people think. Someday this will all change, our views on ourselves and one another will become better, but for now we are not good enough, we are striving to be “perfect” under this unreal pressure of everyone and everything around us.

Eighth-grader Campbell Roediger wrote this for Ann McDonald’s Language Arts class at Hood River Middle School.



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