Body positivity a challenge

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If you were to take a look back into the early 2000s, you’d see the ideal body type for a woman: a small waist, small legs, small arms. Overall, a slim figure. 

Now, in the year 2022, that has seemed to change, but not to a more realistic, relatable or diverse standard. 

Although we still see this slim figure in modern society — especially in the fashion industry — the stereotypical ideal image for a woman on social media is large breasts, a small waist, wide hips, thick thighs, and a large butt. 

This “hourglass” shape has been around for years, but in the last couple of years it has been prioritized and idolized in social media culture. 

You may think that straying away from the unnaturally skinny body type is a step in the right direction, but argumentatively, praising a specific body type in general can cause the same issues for women as it has in the past — especially one that is unrealistic for most. 

Unfortunately, this creates no “in between” for women with natural bodies to feel comfortable and accepted. 

Social media’s portrayal of the hourglass body type has young women wanting to achieve the typical influencer and celebrity Kim Kardashian shape because of how it is glorified. 

Young women all around the world have taken it upon themselves to achieve this look with plastic surgeries, like Brazilian butt lifts (BBLs). This market that has seen exponential growth since 2020. 

According to Business Insider, “In 2020, surgeons performed 40,000 butt augmentation procedures that brought in $140 million worth of revenue … the number of butt augmentation surgeries increased 90.3% between 2015 to 2019.”

However, this new “look” is not the only changing beauty norm. 

Another popular trend that has been growing in popularity is fuller, softer lips. Although this one is more common among women of color, especially those of African descent, it is still one that women look to surgical professionals to help them attain. 

According to plastic surgeon Dr. George Sanders, “recent statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reveal that 27,000 lip augmentation procedures were performed last year.” This revealed that a lip augmentation procedure was performed nearly every 20 minutes. 

Fashion and beauty industries take advantage of the popular trends created by society and capitalize on them in marketing and producing their products. This can cause women to change their looks to what they feel “acceptable” and what is seen as “beautiful” by society. 

The popularity of the BBL, for example, and the desire for this overall body shape has created a shift in the fashion world. BBL culture and BBL fashion have become an entire category that refer to the way brands and businesses are advertising and making clothes — specifically for this body type. 

Brands like FashionNova or PrettyLittleThing are even using women with this exaggerated curvy body shape to model their clothing on their websites. It has even gotten to the point where the tailoring of the clothing mimics those of that body type, making it impossible to fit women of all shapes and sizes. 

Even makeup companies feed into this trend by selling products labeled as “lip plumpers” to achieve fuller, plumper lips.  

This can be mentally trying for women and can feed into their insecurities, or possibly even cause the insecurity in the first place. It can be hard for women to deal with when all they see is a certain body type or body features advertised that, more than likely, does not represent theirs. 

Jania Davis, third-year business administration student at FAMU from Atlanta, says the best way for her to stay positive mentally is to not compare herself to what she sees on social media. 

“Social media can be a false reality. At times, you don’t know what’s real and what’s fake so you could be comparing your beauty to something that isn’t real,” Davis said. “I don’t try to fulfill what society thinks is beautiful, I fulfill what I think is beautiful.”   

Although we advocate for women to do what they want with their bodies, the issue is about the unrealistic expectations that are continuously set for women, and the willfulness to change how we look to fit into what is prioritized in today’s world. 

Embracing natural beauty starts with understanding that there is more to beauty than what you see on the internet. Beauty should not be about what is accepted by society. Beauty should be about embracing all shapes and sizes and praising natural bodies and faces.