What is beautiful? In the dictionary it is defined as “pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically”. We know that not everyone finds the same features to be beautiful in a person or an object. But in our western society today, beauty seems to have a clear cut image. According to our society beauty is mainly external. It puts little emphasis on the person’s character or personality. What is emphasized is having the perfect shape overall and every body part that can be seen.
The advancement of media and technology is probably one of the biggest successes of the recent century. You cannot watch any television program without seeing beauty products advertised by actors who fit the “image” of being beautiful. You cannot go on any social media site without coming across images and articles about a beauty trend and how to achieve it. Why are we so obsessed with having the perfect image? Why do we find a person’s appearance to be the most important part of that person? And the most important question in my opinion, why do we feel we have to be perfect?
In the eyes of adolescents who are searching for who they are and who they want to be, how close they are to being “perfect” is everything. For young girls, their physical image represents who they are and where they fit in society. Looking for “perfection” lands many teenage girls with issues such as eating disorders, depression, and even suicide. Cognitive development is at its most vulnerable emotionally in adolescent girls. Girls build self-esteem, confidence, and self-worth in their adolescent years. Also in Adolescent girl’s cognitive development is their feelings of being misunderstood by their family members, so they prefer to spend most of their time around their peers. Girls seek and desire being accepted by their peers more than anything.
Peer pressure is very much active in teen girl’s social circle and they often indulge in things simply to be rewarded and accepted by their peers. In 2016 What is most desirable to girls is of course to be beautiful. Without beauty girls are often seen as worthless and undesirable by themselves and by others. According to CNN teens today spend an average of 9 hours a day exposed to media. Celebrities often are who teen girls use as role models for beauty. Currently the Kardashian sisters are one of the most popular among teen girls. Their use of cosmetic surgery to obtain desirable features often inspire teen girls to achieve the same “perfect” bodies. Believe it or not breast enlargement surgeries are becoming a popular high school graduation gift for teen girls. Of course wanting to have the “perfect body” does not only occur among adolescent girls. Many adults around girls’ lives have the same attitudes to fix all their flaws and be considered “perfect”.
Many adolescent girls do not consider themselves to be beautiful and rely on multiple cosmetic products to feel desirable among their peers. Low self-esteem is very common among teenaged girls today. According to the Dove Self-Esteem Project 47% of girls are held back by low self-esteem. These girls are more likely to engage in harmful behaviors such as self mutilation,smoking, and alcohol and drug use. Acceptance and self-worth are two of the main reasons why teen girls feel they must be “perfect”. The pressure of being “perfect” takes its emotional tole on adolescent girls and is often desired into adulthood.
Author: Nicole Perez, Psychology Intern
Nicole is a psychology student at the University of Central Florida. She has always had a passion for psychology and helping people overcome the challenges in their lives. She especially has a passion for working with children and families. She plans on continuing on to receive her PhD in clinical psychology specializing in children and their development.