Beyoncé on body image and the media’s influence on female self-worth

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Just recently I came across Bey’s video to Pretty Hurts and was quite surprised by its social importance. “It really tries to investigate the extremes women go through to maintain and achieve a sense of outer beauty,” says director Melina Matsoukas and I say: “Thank you!”

From plastic surgery, rivalry between women, eating disorders and low self-esteem due to the lack of what supposedly is outer perfection; the video really tackles all of it and more. Living in a world in which Miley and her clothes – or lack therefore – dominate the news and in which women are constantly confronted with standards of beauty that are unattainable unless one hires a personal trainer and does nothing but not eat and work out for the rest of one’s life, I find this very refreshing and dare I say, necessary.

“Some of the things young women go through (are) just really heart-breaking for me,” explains Beyoncé in the behind the scenes video, in which she also mentions that she thinks there’s too much pressure on women to be beautiful. Beyoncé, even though I’m not the biggest fan of your latest album, and you, yourself put the beauty bar quite high, I love you for this.

She certainly isn’t the first to tackle the issue, Christina Aguilera did it, Lady Gaga did it and, personally, I think that’s how it should be. If you are in the limelight, chances are people look up to you, therefore you have been burdened with the responsibilities of being a role model, so please try and act the part and do something (positive) with it.

It’s not news that the media, Photoshop, Instagram and some of those otherworldly creatures called models have made us normal women paranoid and crazy about attaining and maintaining a certain size, hair colour, muscle-fat-ratio, cheek bone shape and other body related things I learn to be conscious about on the daily.
Now, I am blessed with a good sense of confidence and an ability to put things into perspective. Hell, I am never going to be making money with my looks or work as a model, that career path shut itself to me pretty early in life,next to other things, I stopped growing at 1.64m. Therefore I am fine with not being the size of a twig.
And while I am a relatively strong individual with a, dare I say, good head on my shoulders, even I sometimes (read regularly) crumble. Like most women on this planet there are at least three things I can name on the spot which I wouldn’t mind changing about myself right now. It is crazy and unfortunately normal.

What’s even more upsetting is that it isn’t just the media who makes us girls this cray-cray, it’s also what we do to each other, the never ending rivalries, competitions and comparisons – there is another Beyoncé song featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s call to feminism, criticising this particular issue.

My head is spinning just thinking about all of the above, being a female does suck at times. And even though the affliction of beauty standards on society by the media isn’t a new phenomenon and neither is the occurrence of the matter in pop culture, especially in music videos, I think it is noteworthy and we should see much more of it. Because, as Beyoncé points out, perfection is the disease of a nation.

 

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